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Chapter 21: Mufti Day
The Enclosure Acts:
A series of Acts of Parliament that empowered enclosure [eg with fences] of open fields and common land in England and Wales, creating legal property rights to land that was previously held in common. Between 1604 and 1914, over 5,200 individual enclosure Acts were passed, covering 6.8 million acres.
When the bell went there followed the usual noisy, chaotic movement of pupils through the corridors as everyone relocated to a different classroom for their next lesson. Luke and Joe rushed into Mrs King’s room ahead of the rest of their class to get the best seats – at the back desk by the window. They’d heard from their form tutor at registration that Mrs King was off sick again and when Mrs King was away it was imperative they got a window seat.
History was one of the few subjects at school that Luke was interested in. He wouldn’t go as far as to say he looked forward to the lessons, because things that required him to sit still, be quiet and do as he was told were never going to be a preferred use of his time, but he didn’t mind them. That was probably because he liked Mrs King.
Mrs King absolutely loved history. She made everything interesting because she talked about it with such energy and enthusiasm. Unfortunately she’d been off sick a lot lately and that meant a substitute. Substitute teachers weren’t bad people, Luke had nothing against them personally. But a teacher who doesn’t know anybody; who has no idea where the class is up to in their lessons; and who didn’t even know they’d be teaching at that school until half an hour before school started, is probably going to just give them printouts.
“Good morning,” said the woman behind Mrs King’s desk, “I’m Mrs Abbot and I’ll be taking you for History today.” A few people started rummaging in their bags for their text books and pencil cases. “Hold your horses,” Mrs Abbot said, “you won’t need those today, we’ve got some printouts.”
Luke looked knowingly at Joe.
“See,” he whispered.
“I know,” whispered Joe, a little irritated, “I knew as well as you did.”
“When the pile gets to you, please take one and then pass them to the next person.” Mrs Abbot gave a stack of photocopies to Caroline at the front and everybody waited for it to arrive at their desks. Nobody was impatient to see what was on it.
“Okay,” Mrs Abbot went on, “as you’ll see from your sheets, we’re going to be thinking about the Enclosure Acts which changed the way land was used in this country. I want you to read the information I’ve given you and then consider whether you think Enclosure was a good thing or a bad thing.
“Many scholars have discussed it over the years and have come to very different conclusions. I want you to read their opinions and then decide what you think.” When she stopped talking everyone looked down at their sheets and began to read. Before most of them had got to the second paragraph she added, “Read both sides.”
After ten minutes – the time by which Mrs Abbot expected everyone to have read the texts, she began the discussion.
“So, what do we think – was Enclosure a good thing or a bad thing?”
Andrew Bennett put up his hand.
“Yes, blonde boy at the front – what do you think?”
“I think it was all necessary for progress. We had a growing population that needed to be fed so farming needed to be more efficient and less wasteful.”
“Okay, and what would you say if I told you that, according to Dr Michael Turner, a History lecturer at Hull University, in the second quarter of the eighteenth century there was actually plenty of cheap food for a population that was only slowly increasing. Why would Enclosure be needed then, if the existing farming practices were providing everything everybody needed?”
“Some people wanted more – the land owners wanted more,” called out Nicky Witticomb.
“Indeed they did young man,” said Mrs Abbot, “yes, in fact cheap food at the market meant farmers’ incomes weren’t increasing as they would have liked so, in an effort to get more money from their land, they moved away from the broadly fixed incomes of arable farming, and into the expanding area of pastoral farming. Then, as demand for meat and dairy products increased, farmers were able to earn more from their land by substituting grass for crops.” She looked around the room for more contributors. “Anyone else? Was Enclosure a good thing or a bad thing?”
“Both,” said Lucy Evans. “It was good for the land owners because they could use all their land without wasting strips in between … strips. But it was bad for the people who didn’t own land because they couldn’t farm those common strips any more. They used to be able to grow their own food and be self sufficient, but after enclosure they had to go to the cities to earn a wage.”
“Good, good, okay well …”
“All property is theft!” interrupted Nicky, “those land owners didn’t have any right to own the land – they just took it, or their ancestors did. The land belongs to everybody. Everybody should have the right to build their little log cabin wherever they like, and collect their fuel from the woods and grow their own food.” He concluded with a quote. “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
Mrs Abbot smiled. “Okay, we’ve got some strong opinions here. Good. Anybody want to take issue with this young man … what’s your name?”
“Does anyone want to take issue with Nicky’s opinion?”
“Enclosure made farming more efficient,” said Andrew, “less labour was needed to produce more food. It stopped farm animal diseases spreading to all the animals in the village, and they could do more selective breeding to get better animals which produce more milk or meat.”
“Hmm, okay, anyone else? Young man at the back, would you like to venture an opinion or are you more interested in how many red lorries are travelling west?”
Luke, who had no interest in lorries but was gazing out of the window anyway, didn’t realise at first that the teacher was addressing him. A nudge from Joe got his attention.
“What do you think?” Mrs Abbot asked again, “good thing or bad thing?”
“What?” asked Luke, “is what a good thing?”
A couple of people laughed at his apparent ignorance and Luke scowled at them.
“Enclosure,” Mrs Abbot repeated patiently.
“Well,” said Luke, who was perfectly capable of listening while he stared out the window. “I agree with Nicky.”
“Do you?” said Mrs Abbot, “and what specifically do you agree with?”
“I agree with what he said about no one should own land, it belongs to everybody.”
“Okay, and you don’t think this young man had a point?” she asked, pointing to Andrew.
“No,” said Luke. “There wun’t be any farm animal diseases if they din’t farm animals. And farmin’ more animals didn’t make farmin’ more efficient coz you can get a lot more food out of land if you just grow crops on it.”
“So, in conclusion – your opinion is that Enclosure was – ?”
“Bad.” The brief pause that followed, though due to Mrs Abbot searching her sleeve for a tissue, led Luke to assume that further explanation was required. “If there were no fences,” he went on, “an’ everybody could have a strip to grow their own food like they used to, then everybody would have enough to eat an’ there’d be enough land left over to grow forests and have places where the wild animals could live.”
Celia Brook snorted.
“Something to add?” asked Mrs Abbot.
“Well he’s living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that would work!” said Celia. “If you had no fences then some people would do all the work and other people would steal their food. Or the wild animals would eat what they’d grown because they don’t have fences to keep them out.”
“It worked then so why wouldn’t it work now?” argued Lucy. “When people all have the same they don’t get jealous of each other’s stuff. Everyone would be able to use as much land as they needed to feed their own family and there’d be no need for money so no one would sell their food, they could trade it for other people’s food if they wanted to and everyone would co-operate so that they all had enough.”
Celia scoffed. “That’s never gonna happen! People only look after number one! That’s what capitalism is!”
“I’m not a capitalist, I’m an anarchist!” said Nicky.
“Okay, okay,” said Mrs Abbot, “I think we might be going off on a tangent here. Let’s look back at the diagram on the first page of your …” She was interrupted by a knock at the door. “Come in.”
A teenager entered and gave a note to Mrs Abbot. She thanked him and he left. After reading the note she stood silently for a moment before clearing her throat and telling everyone that their lesson had been cut short because they had been called to assembly. They should take their bags and coats with them because they would go straight to lunch afterwards.
Luke and Joe followed everyone else back out into the corridor to join the rest of the school heading down to the assembly hall. There was lots of speculation regarding what might be the cause of their summons.
“I heard the school’s closin’ down,” Kenny told anyone who cared to listen.
“Says who?” asked George sceptically.
“My sister – she’s in the sixth form and she said Mr Davies said it might be merging with Bishop’s.”
“Bishop’s?” asked Christopher with some concern, “that’s way over the other side of town. If they make us go there I’ll have leave home even earlier.”
“We won’t be merging with Bishop’s,” Celia told them confidently, “it’s not big enough.”
“They’re addin’ new buildings,” said Kenny, “there’s builders there now. That’s where all them lorries were going.”
Luke and Joe were a little concerned, like Christopher, that a move to Bishop’s would mean an even earlier start to the day, but they needn’t have worried.
The hall was rarely this full of people. Years Seven and Eight had their assemblies on Mondays and Wednesdays; Years Nine and Ten on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and Year Eleven had just one per week, on Fridays. It was only on special occasions that the whole school attended assembly together. Everyone waited for Mr Strang, the Headmaster, to finish talking to the Head of Year Seven, Mrs Oakley. She looked like she’d been crying. When she left the stage, Mr Strang cleared his throat and talked into the microphone.
“I’m sorry to – “ his words stuck in his throat. He coughed and gestured to one of the other teachers for a glass of water. After swallowing a mouthful he tried again. “Excuse me, erm, …”
A Year Eleven boy pulled back the chair of the girl in front of him and it slid forward on two legs. She shrieked and was left hanging at a 45 degree angle with her shoulders against his knees and her feet kicking the back of the person in front of her. The commotion caused some laughter along two rows of seats and inspired the rest of the assembled to turn and see what was going on.
“You two! Out! Leave this room NOW!” Mr Strang’s voice boomed over the P.A. System and the laughter was immediately curtailed. One of the P.E. teachers dragged the boy and girl from their seats and marched them out of the hall. Everyone else turned to face the front and waited silently for Mr Strang to resume.
“I’m sorry to tell you that Mrs King passed away at 6.42 this morning,” Mr Strang’s voice was quivering, “she has worked here for eleven years and was a valued colleague and friend. I’m sure you’ll all agree that she was an excellent teacher who was devoted to her students and always had time for anyone who needed extra help.”
The atmosphere in the room changed instantly from one of curiosity and impatience to one of melancholy. Luke and Joe hadn’t known Mrs King for long but they’d liked her and were sad she was gone. No one said anything. Mr Strang continued.
“As some of you may know, Mrs King battled with cancer for years. She was brave, uncomplaining and always cheerful. She was an inspiration to us all. We have decided, therefore, as a tribute to Mrs King, to organise two fund raising activities in support of an organisation which has for many years funded life-saving research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer – Cancer Research UK.
“The school Swing Band – which Mrs King loved – will play a concert at The Tower Theatre, at the end of March. Volunteers can go home today with tickets to sell in aid of the charity and there will be a prize for the person who sells the most. Secondly, there will be a Mufti Day on Friday for the whole school. Every pupil who wishes to take part must pay £2 to their form tutor for the privilege of not having to wear school uniform that day. If everyone takes part, the mufti day alone will raise £2000 for the charity.” Mr Strang cleared his throat, took another swig of water and turned to say something to Mrs MacGregor who sat behind the piano. He then left the stage and Mrs MacGregor led the school in Mrs King’s favourite hymn.
At the end of the day Isabel and Tania pushed through the crowd to find Luke and Joe in the bus queue.
“What are you doing here?” asked Luke.
“Can’t stop,” said Isabel, a little out of breath, “but did you get some of those concert tickets to sell?”
“Yeah,” said Luke, “Mr Flanagan gave everybody ten.”
“Don’t sell them!” said Tania, grabbing Isabel by the elbow and pulling her away.
“Why?” Luke asked the retreating pair.
“Meet us tomorrow lunchtime,” Isabel called across the noisy crowd, “usual place.” And they hurried to their rendezvous with Tania’s mum at the back of the school.
“Ooh, a hot date!” said Simon Butler who had unfortunately been standing within earshot. His friends laughed. Luke and Joe, who had learned from experience that Butler was best ignored, got onto the bus. They ascended to the top deck and managed to get the seat in front of the stairs where no one could sit behind them. Luke took the concert tickets out of his bag.
“They got these printed pretty quick considerin’ she on’y died this mornin’,” he observed.
“They’d already organised the concert,” said Joe, “Janet’s in the Swing Band and they’ve been practising for weeks.”
“But the tickets say ‘in aid of Cancer Research UK’.”
“Yeah, I know, they’d already planned to do it for them, before she died.”
“Oh,” said Luke, and he put the tickets back in his bag. “It’s a shame about Mrs King. I wonder why Isabel and Tania don’t want us to sell the tickets.”
“I guess we’ll find out tomorrow,” said Joe.
“Yeah,” agreed Luke. “D’you wanna come with me to check on Curly an’ Squirt?”
Tania and Isabel were in the top set for just about everything. Luke and Joe were not. For that reason, though they went to the same school, they rarely bumped into each other unless they made a point of doing so. On Wednesday lunchtime they met, as agreed, on the old tennis courts. No one played tennis on the old tennis courts. There were no nets; the tarmac was cracked and most of the court lines had worn away. A rusty ride-on lawn mower, awaiting repair, was parked at one end, and two wooden benches, damaged by vandals, laid on their backs at the other. There were rumours that the courts were going to be renovated but, until they were, they made an ideal meeting place.
“We can’t sell the tickets and we can’t do the mufti day,” said Isabel.
“Why not?” Luke asked again.
“Look at this,” she said, passing him a small piece of paper, concertina folded to the size of a library card.
“What is it?” he asked as he opened it.
“Look at it,” she told him.
One side had a red border and was titled
PLEASE BOYCOTT THESE CHARITIES UNTIL THEY STOP FUNDING ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS:
The other side was bordered in green and titled
THESE CHARITIES DON’T CONDUCT OR FUND ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS:
Under both headings were long lists of medical charities in tiny writing. Cancer Research UK was on the red list.
“Where did you get this?” asked Luke.
“From your friend Kris, with the stall, who we met in Belton.”
“She gave you this?”
“They had loads of them on the stall, I just took one.”
“Did you get us all one?”
“No, sorry, I …”
“Anyway,” Tania interrupted, “what are we going to do about it?”
Luke frowned. “What are they doin’ to the animals? Testin’ drugs on ’em?”
“Sometimes,” said Isabel, “but first they give them a disease so that they can try to cure them of it.”
“And sometimes,” added Tania, “they make them eat or inhale things that cause cancer and then cut them up to see what it did to their bodies.”
The boys were sickened.
“Cancer Research UK does that?” asked Joe.
“Well these are the kind of things that happen all the time with cancer research. We’re not sure exactly what CRUK itself does,” Tania admitted.
“But it does do these kind of things,” said Isabel, “because they’re on the list of charities that do.”
Luke’s jaw tensed and his eyes narrowed. “If we’re gonna stop the school givin’ ’em money we need to know exactly what CRUK does, so we can tell everybody.”
“Agreed,” said Isabel. “You should all come to my house after school so we can do some research.”
“Oh, I can’t tonight,” said Tania regretfully, “it’s my grandma’s birthday and we’re doing a party for her. What about tomorrow night?”
“No, it’s got to be tonight. We’ve got to get this info out tomorrow ’cause Mufti Day’s the day after.”
“Aren’t we already too late?” asked Joe, “they’ve put ‘in aid of CRUK’ on the concert tickets.”
“Well, there can’t be that many sold yet, and the concert’s not for another month so they’ll have time to re-print them. Or if they won’t do that they could send a note home telling everyone the money’s going to help cancer research in the UK, not Cancer Research UK. They should be able to sort something out if we tell them about it early enough,” Isabel explained.
“Well I can’t come tonight either, I’m busy,” said Joe without elaborating.
“Just you and me then Luke?” said Isabel hopefully.
“I can’t come to yours after school,” said Luke, “coz I’ve got to check on Curly an’ Squirt. But I can do some research at my own house.”
“Okay,” said Isabel, “we’ll find out as much as we can about CRUK tonight and then I’ll email the teachers first thing in the morning. I’ll use my Society email address to keep it anonymous.”
“Who are you going to email?” asked Tania.
“I’ll write to the school email address,” said Isabel, “and put FAO THE TEACHERS in the subject bar.”
“That’ll just go to the school secretary,” said Joe, “and if she doesn’t forward it to the teachers they won’t see it.”
“D’you know any of the teachers’ email addresses?” asked Tania.
Isabel detected a flaw in her plan. “Blast. No I don’t.”
“Oh well,” said Tania, “you’ll just have to use the intranet.”
“Mum, can I use the computer?” Luke asked when he got home.
“Jared’s using it at the moment,” she told him, “his laptop’s playing up.”
“That’s not fair,” Luke complained, “Jared’s got his own computer, he should ‘ave looked after it prop’ly.”
“He said you broke it.”
Luke was momentarily stumped. He didn’t remember breaking it. He was fairly sure he hadn’t.
“I didn’t,” he said eventually.
Mum recoiled from the blast of heat when she opened the oven door and reminded herself not to lean in when she did that. “What do you need it for? Homework?” Before Luke could answer she turned away from him and transferred twelve chocolate chip cookies to the cooling tray. “Is it for something important?” she added.
Thankful he could answer truthfully he told her that yes it was absolutely very important.
“Okay,” she said, “ask Jared not to be too long.”
Luke tutted and went into the living room to do that. “How long are you gonna be?”
“As long as it takes,” said Jared unhelpfully.
“How long d’you think that’ll be?”
“Well the more you bother me, the longer it’ll take.”
“Mum said you’ve got to hurry up because I’ve got some important work to do.”
“I don’t think so,” said Jared, “you don’t do anything important in Year Seven.”
“Well what’re you doin’ that’s so important?” said Luke as he leaned in to look at the screen. “You’re playin’ cards!” He pulled at Jared’s shoulder. “You can play cards with actual cards! Let me use the computer!”
“Get off!” Jared elbowed Luke without taking his eyes off the screen, “I was here first!”
Luke took hold of the office chair and tried to wheel it away from the computer but Jared held tight to the desk with his hands and feet. Jared grinned when his brother gave up and let go, but when the chair jolted back against the desk, his can of lemonade toppled and splashed its contents all over the keyboard. Both boys instantly forgot their squabble and were silent. The playing card images stretched and distorted on the screen before being replaced by a mass of fuzzy lines.
“You’re not supposed to have drinks by the computer!” Luke pointed out.
“It’s your fault it fell over,” said Jared angrily, “if you hadn’t pulled the chair …”
Confined to his room Luke had no idea how he was going to get the research done by tomorrow. It really wasn’t fair. It was Jared’s fault for having a drink on the desk which he knows he’s not supposed to do. It was Jared’s fault for playing games on the computer and refusing to let him do his important work. It was all Jared’s fault so it wasn’t fair that they both got punished. He laid back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. It wouldn’t be so bad if he could at least phone Isabel and tell her he didn’t have access to a computer. Then at least she’d know it was all down to her. He hoped she was getting somewhere with it. He wished he’d picked up some leaflets from Kris’s stall when he had the chance. There might have been some useful information there that could have helped with this research. He continued to stare at the ceiling with these pointless regrets going round and round in his head until, finally, a useful thought emerged. A month earlier Dad had given him his old mobile phone. It had £5 credit on it but he was only permitted to use it for emergencies.
“Well if this isn’t an emergency I don’t know what is!” thought Luke aloud.
He took out his phone and sent a carefully worded text to Kris.
Early Thursday morning Dad put the car in reverse and looked over his shoulder before backing out of the drive. Before he’d changed into first gear, an old brown Talbot Sunbeam pulled up in front of him. A woman with short green hair and rather too many piercings for his liking, got out and began to walk up the path to his house. Dad rolled down the passenger side window and leaned across the seat.
“Can I help you?” he called.
The woman turned back. “Is this Luke Walker’s house?”
“Who wants to know?”
“I’m a friend of his,” she said, smiling, “he asked me to bring him something.”
Luke’s dad turned off the engine and got out of the car. “Really?” he asked, walking towards her “and what might that be?”
Kris didn’t want to put Luke in a difficult position with his parents by saying too much. “Is Luke here?” she asked.
“My son is eleven years old,” said Mr Walker, who was turned a little frosty by her evasiveness, “so I like to know who his friends are and what they get up to.”
“Yes, of course,” said Kris apologetically, “he needed some information for school.” She handed him the envelope she was carrying.
Luke drew back his bedroom curtains in time to witness the scene. He pulled on his trousers in record time, rushed downstairs and flung open the front door just as Kris’s car rattled out of view. His dad handed him the envelope.
“This is from a friend of yours,” he said, “where do you know her from?”
“Thanks,” said Luke, “oh, she’s jus’ one o’ the leaders at youth club.”
Dad raised his eyebrows, “is that right?” he said, “because she seems to think you met at the health food shop where she works.”
Luke froze almost imperceptibly before saying, “oh, yeah, health food shop, I forgot,” and he hurried back inside.
“Read these,” said Luke to Joe on the bus, “Kris got ’em for us an’ we need to learn ’em so we can tell Mr Flanagan.”
Joe flicked through several pages of information, “I can’t learn all this by registration,” he said anxiously.
“After lunch then,” said Luke, “we’ll learn it at lunch time and tell him at afternoon registration.”
“Okay,” said Joe, and began to read.
Isabel, meanwhile, had arrived at school a few minutes early and was making her way to the I.T. lab while it was still empty. Entering the corridor at one end she saw a cleaner leaving the computer room at the other and disappearing into the stairwell. There was no one else in sight. She had timed it perfectly. Within moments she was sitting at one of the desktop computers. It took a worryingly long time to start up but once it was running she inserted her memory stick and opened the document she needed to copy. She clicked Select All, and Copy, before signing in to the school intranet network.
Then she clicked Compose;
selected To All Users;
selected High Priority from the drop down menu,
and typed in the subject bar: BOYCOTT CANCER RESEARCH UK
Just as she was about to paste in her message the screen froze. The school bell declared the time to be half past eight and Isabel frantically moved the mouse in circles on its mat, trying to get the cursor to reappear. But nothing happened. She tapped Ctrl, Alt, Delete and opened a Task Manager. She selected the only task running and clicked End Task. She could hear footsteps out in the corridor and tried desperately to make her shaking hands behave. She told herself to focus and began again.
To All Users
Subject: BOYCOTT CANCER RESEARCH UK
She right clicked in the message box but there was nothing to paste. Her text was no longer on the clipboard. Desperately she pulled out the memory stick and re-inserted it. She double clicked on the icon, opened the document, selected all and copied. Again she right clicked in the message box and this time was able to select Paste. With great relief she clicked Save and was rewarded with the notification Sending … at the top of the screen just as the door opened and the IT teacher walked in. Before turning to face him, Isabel swiftly clicked Start, Shut Down and then switched off the monitor.
“Hey! What are you doing in here?” asked Mr Frakes suspiciously.
“I left my memory stick here yesterday,” Isabel told him with a smile, “just came to collect it,” and she held it up to show him.
Mr Frakes, noticeably relieved to see that it was only Isabel, congratulated her on remembering where she’d left it and encouraged her to get to registration. It was done. She could breathe again.
Isabel slipped into her form room where Tania waited expectantly. Her eyes asked the question and Isabel nodded. So far so good.
“I answered to your name on the register,” Tania told her, “so you won’t be marked late.”
“Thanks,” said Isabel.
“So, how did it go?”
“Good I think.”
“Did you send it to all the teachers?”
“All users? That’s everybody! Staff, students, everybody!”
Isabel grinned. “Yes indeed!”
“Well done,” Tania grinned back, “very very well done. So now what?”
Mr Flanagan closed the register and told his form to head out to afternoon classes. Luke and Joe walked against the tide and approached the teacher’s desk.
“Problem boys?” Mr Flanagan asked.
“We can’t sell these,” said Luke, putting his ten concert tickets down on the desk. Joe did the same.
Mr Flanagan looked disappointed in them. “Well you haven’t tried very hard, you’ve only had them a couple of days. Give it a couple of weeks before you give up.”
“No,” Luke explained, “we mean we won’t sell them, not if they’re gonna give money to CRUK.”
“Cancer Research UK.”
Mr Flanagan looked from Luke to Joe and back again. “Why? What have they done to deserve your disapproval?”
“We think the school should give the money to a good charity that won’t waste it on animal testin’,” Luke explained.
Mr Flanagan looked at the ceiling, took a deep breath and then looked at his watch. “I’ve got a class waiting boys and you’re supposed to be in your next lesson. We’ll talk about this later.”
“When?” asked Luke.
“I don’t know. Tomorrow,” he suggested brusquely.
“Tomorrow’s too late. We need you to tell ’em before Mufti Day to give the money to a different charity.”
“I’m not going to do that,” said Mr Flanagan firmly. “Cancer Research UK is a very worthwhile cause. They do a lot of good work. They help a lot of people.”
“Maybe they do,” Luke conceded, “but they also do a lot of bad, cruel work and you never know what your money’s gonna go on.”
Mr Flanagan shook his head despairingly, as if he’d heard it all before. “They’re not cruel Luke, they’re doing vital research. It’s not a happy fact but they have to use animal models to see how the disease grows and spreads in a living body.”
“But it’s not the same in animals as humans,” argued Luke, “so it’s pointless. They’re killin’ ’em for nothing.”
“You’re talking about highly qualified scientists. Why would they do it if it didn’t work?”
Joe read aloud from one of the leaflets. “’There are, in fact, only two categories of doctors and scientists who are not opposed to vivisection: those who don’t know enough about it, and those who make money out of it.’ Dr Werner Hartinger wrote that, in 1989. He was a German surgeon.”
“What have you got there?” asked Mr Flanagan, taking the leaflet out of Joe’s hand. “An animal rights leaflet. Surprise surprise. Don’t you think this might be a little bit biased?” he asked condescendingly. Immediately regretting his irritated response, he took a breath and tried to be patient. “Look, boys, I really don’t have time for this now. Let me lend you one of my biology textbooks.” He picked through the pile on his desk. “Here you go,” he offered them a copy of Animal Models For The Study Of Human Disease. “Take this home with you and read the first chapter. I think it’ll help you understand the issue better and if it doesn’t we can set aside some time to talk more.”
Joe shook his head. “No thank you,” he said.
“We don’t need to read that,” said Luke. “We already understand the issue. We already know for a fact it’s wrong to poison animals, and give ’em diseases, and cut ’em up and kill ’em. Even if it did help humans that wun’t make it right. But it don’t help humans coz animals are different to humans and different animals give different results in the experiments so why would they think humans would give the same results? And how would they know which animal results would be the same as humans?”
“Ibuprofen causes kidney failure in dogs,” said Joe, “and Aspirin causes birth defects in mice and rats.”
Mr Flanagan put the textbook back down on his desk. “Time to go boys,” he said flatly.
“Adverse drug reactions to medicines that were proved safe in animal tests, kill a hundred thousand people every year in America,” recited Luke.
Luke tentatively stretched out his hand to retrieve the leaflet from his tutor’s grasp, before both boys did as they were told.
The first lesson on Thursday afternoons was P.E. Tania and Isabel were getting changed for hockey.
“Oh no!” said Isabel as she tipped out the contents of her kit bag, “I forgot my socks!”
Tania laughed. “Oh well, you’ll just have to wear your other socks.”
“What other socks?”
“The socks you came to school in.”
“I wore tights.”
Isabel slumped down on the bench. “I’m going to have to wear my boots with bare feet. I’m gonna get blisters! Have you got any spare socks?”
“Isabel Jessop!” Miss Stremp’s voice preceded her.
“Ooh, ask Miss Stremp,” suggested Tania, “she’s bound to have some spare kit around. See if she’ll lend you some socks.”
Isabel wrinkled her nose at the prospect just as Miss Stremp caught up to her voice.
“Off you go girls – three laps of the field!” she ordered the class. “Not you Miss Jessop.”
Tania shrugged apologetically at her friend and followed the rest of the girls outside. Isabel pulled her boots onto her bare feet.
“Get dressed please Isabel, Mr Strang wants to see you in his office,” said Miss Stremp.
“I imagine you’ll find out when you get there.”
Isabel thought she’d be glad of an excuse to avoid running around a cold, wet field but she wasn’t. When she got to his office, Mr Strang wasn’t alone.
“Miss Jessop,” he said, “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“No sir,” said Isabel apprehensively.
“I presume you know Mrs Oakley.”
Mrs Oakley’s stone cold face remained silent.
“Mrs Oakley wanted me to speak to you regarding the email you sent this morning. Were you aware that students are not permitted to send messages to All Users?”
“er, no, I didn’t …”
“That facility is for senior staff only. For the purpose of informing staff and pupils of rule changes, procedure changes, or snow days. Things like that.”
“Oh, sorry, well …”
“And I have to say, aside from that infringement, you have upset a lot of people with your email.”
“How dare you be so insulting about people who dedicate their lives to helping others?” Mrs Oakley found her voice and there was a painful edge to it. “They’re good people! Working hard to cure this horrible horrible disease!”
“Well, they …”
“Mrs King has only just died and there was nothing I could do to help her. I had to watch … and she never complained.” Mrs Oakley was overcome with emotion.
Mr Strang handed her a tissue and took over.
“What Mrs Oakley means is that this is not the time for political debate. Emotions are running high at the moment, a lot of people are hurting, and you have just rubbed salt in the wound.”
“I’m sorry, I …”
“Up until now I have heard nothing but good things about you Miss Jessop. At the end of last term all your teachers wrote glowing reports about the quality of your work, and more than a few of them noted that you were a pleasure to have in the classroom. So I’m very surprised that you would do something so thoughtless, so inconsiderate and so offensive. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I’m sorry I upset people,” said Isabel, “that was the last thing I wanted to do. I’m sorry Mrs King died, I really liked her. And I’m sorry for anyone who has cancer. That’s why I had to tell everybody now. So that you’d give the money to a charity that does human-relevant research.”
“How dare you?” said Mrs Oakley angrily, “this charity has been working for decades to help end cancer! Are you an expert? Are you a scientist? Are you a doctor?”
Isabel shook her head.
“So how come you think you know better than people who are?”
“I’ve read …”
“Let’s not get into this now,” interrupted Mr Strang, “this issue is highly contentious and there are a lot of points of view. My point of view is simply this: the school intranet is not your own personal soapbox. You are not permitted to send messages to all users. Is that understood?”
“You may return to class.”
Isabel was in no hurry to get back to P.E. so she dawdled miserably through the empty corridors. She walked to the top floor and looked out the window at the hockey players chasing the tiny hard ball across the muddy pitch. It was difficult to see who was who. They were too far away. She swallowed hard to stop herself crying. She knew she’d done the right thing. So why did she feel so guilty?
She didn’t head back to the changing rooms until she saw her class leave the field. By the time she got there, Tania was dressed and ready.
“Where have you been?” she asked with concern. “What happened?”
“Mr Strang and Mrs Oakley had a go at me for sending the email,” Isabel told her.
“Oh no, what did they say?”
“Only teachers are allowed to send messages to all users.”
“Oh. Is that all?”
“No, but it doesn’t matter, it’s done now,” said Isabel, putting on a smile. The bell went. “Come on, let’s go to music!”
Tania chatted cheerfully as they moved through the crowded corridor to the music room. She made Isabel laugh.
“… and she said, ‘not if I can help it’ and she picked up the ball and threw it as far as …”
“I thought you were a nice person,” Madame DuBois stepped in front of them and interrupted. “How could you do this thing? You care more about a little mouse than a living person? Je suis très déçu de toi.”
Tania watched in stunned silence as the French teacher walked away. Then she turned back to Isabel. “What’s her prob… hey, Izzy, what’s the matter?”
Isabel rubbed her watery eyes and forced a grin. “I’m okay.”
“What did you put in that email?”
“Only the truth.”
The following morning everyone arrived at school in clothes of their own choosing. Some had clearly taken ages with hair and make-up; some wore ridiculously impractical shoes; some wore the latest High Street fashions; most wore jeans and T-shirt. Nine wore school uniform. Joe Currant, Luke Walker, Isabel Jessop and Tania Spriggs, all in year seven, wore school uniform because they were not afraid to stand up for what they believed in. Kristin West in year eleven, Jake Guest and George Broughton in year ten, and Ellie Baxter in year nine, wore school uniform because they’d read Isabel’s email. Nigel Salter in year eight wore school uniform because he’d forgotten it was Mufti Day. None of them paid £2 to their form tutors. Between them they collected £21 for Animal Free Research.
PLEASE DON’T GIVE DONATIONS TO CANCER RESEARCH UK BECAUSE THE CHARITY WASTES SUPPORTERS’ MONEY ON CRUEL AND POINTLESS EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS WHICH DON’T HELP HUMAN CANCER SUFFERERS.
The following are just a couple of examples of the horrible things CRUK has done:
Researchers funded by CRUK conducted experiments on nude mice
in order to give them bone cancer [nude mice are bred in laboratories with a genetic mutation which causes a deteriorated or absent thymus, resulting in an inhibited immune system and no body hair].
The baby mice had cancer cells injected into their hearts. The male mice received prostate cancer cells and the female mice received breast cancer cells. These cells were made to glow so that tumour growth could be identified while the animals were alive. This was also confirmed after their deaths. Over several weeks the animals developed tumours in their bones and some, who had been injected wrongly, developed tumours in their hearts. The animals were killed at various times after the injection into their hearts.
Relevance to humans:
- Researchers admit that as the animals had no thymus, they could not determine the role of the immune system in regulating the bone cancer spread.
- Researchers admit that their method of creating cancer in these animals is very different to how humans develop cancer. In these experiments, the males were injected with approximately 100,000 cancer cells and the females with approximately 75,000 cells in one injection.
CRUK co-funded a complex study on rats and mice designed to investigate whether disrupting a particular network of proteins could help treat bile duct cancer.
Three different types of animals were used:
Nude mice were injected under the skin with tumour cells from people with bile duct cancer. After three weeks some of them were given treatments to reduce the severity of the tumours.
A second group of genetically modified mice were chemically poisoned for around six months so that they would develop cancer.
Rats were subjected to the same chemical poisoning regime as the mice. After about five months, some of them were given substances designed to target the tumours. One of these was the treatment that depleted levels of some white blood cells (macrophages) and therefore damaged their immune system.
Relevance to humans:
- Researchers are unclear as to the exact cause of bile duct cancer but contributing factors can include a rare type of liver disease, abnormalities of the bile duct and parasitic infections. Being forced to ingest an industrial chemical for six months, therefore, does not provide an accurate ‘model’ of how the disease develops in humans.
- Genetically modifying mice to develop cancer is no more reliable than injecting them with human cancer cells. It is an over-simplistic approach, since human cancers are usually caused by multiple mutations in co-existent cells, and depend on a highly individualised cellular environment.
- The researchers admit that only a small proportion of bile duct cancer patients have the mutation inflicted on the GM mice they used.
While being very secretive about the specific details of the animal research they fund, CRUK states:
“At the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, we only use mice. We breed some strains ourselves and obtain others from suppliers who are licensed to supply animals for research. Most of the mice we use have altered genetics”
When considering this one should be aware that the creation of GM mice generally involves several painful and invasive procedures, including major surgery and mutilation. Creating just one ‘founder’ mouse with the required genetic alteration can entail the deaths of hundreds of others. These unwanted mice are often killed by being gassed or having their necks broken.
It is incomprehensible that CRUK continues to waste its supporters’ money on animal research despite the fact that pharmaceutical companies acknowledge the failure of animal-based research in their drug development process and write about this openly and often in the scientific literature.
A leading oncologist, voted one of America’s Top Doctors, Dr Azra Raza, made the absolute failure of mice models of cancer the focus of her
“The fact of the matter is, that we cured acute myeloid leukemia in mice back in 1977 and today, in humans, we are using exactly the same drugs with absolutely dreadful results. We have to stop studying mice because it’s essentially pointless and we have to start studying freshly obtained human cells.”
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
SEND THE SCHOOL’S DONATIONS TO AN ETHICAL CHARITY SUCH AS
ANIMAL FREE RESEARCH UK
WHICH IS DOING SCIENTIFICALLY VALID, HUMAN RELEVANT RESEARCH THAT WILL HELP HUMAN SUFFERERS.
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