New Penelope Pitstop-esque story starts on Monday!

We used to love the old Penelope Pitstop cartoons and Miranda thought it would be great fun to make something similar.

So she did! 😀

She made Marvellous Mildred and the Girl Scout Twins!

So, instead of the Ant Hill Mob:

there’s Marvellous Mildred and the Girl Scout Twins:

And instead of Penelope Pitstop being pursued by the Hooded Claw:

There’s Daisy Dewdrop:

being pursued by the Flat-Capped Menace:

This story’s got it all!

An evil villain with elaborate schemes and contraptions, the defenceless innocents on whom he preys, and the fearless protectors who outwit him in their daring rescues.

Don’t miss Marvellous Mildred and the Girl Scout Twins by Miranda Lemon.

Starts here on Monday! 😀

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vegan, vegan comic, children’s comic, cartoons, vintage cartoons, animals, animal rescue, humour, children’s story,

 

Wandering off

For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues from Tuesday:

Mum smiled.  “Looking good.  Do you want some furniture?  I’ve got a couple of deck chairs and a coffee table you can have.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks Mum.”

“I’ve got some old curtains as well, if you want privacy,” she offered.

“Why? You can’t see in the shed window from the house can you?”

“No, of course not.”

“Okay, good.”

“So you do want privacy.  Top secret stuff is it?”

“No, course not, well …. we just don’t wanna be watched, that’s all.”

“I quite understand,” said Mum, trying to suppress a smile. “Do you want lunch?  I could bring some sandwiches down here if you like.”

Luke shook his head.  “Thanks, yeah, but no, we’ll come up to the house for ’em.”

******

FRIDAY 13 JUNE

When Luke got home from school there was no one else there.  The house was silent.

“Dudley? D’you want to go outside?” he asked when he stepped into the kitchen.  The clang of an upended stainless steel water bowl was preceded by the sound of four clawed paws hitting the floor.  Dudley was at the back door in seconds.

As they walked to the allotments Luke and his oldest friend talked everything over.  Well, Luke talked, Dudley couldn’t get a word in edgeways.  Luke had always been grateful for good listeners.  The best, he’d found, were those who didn’t try to push their own opinions into the discussion; those who let him get out all his jumbled thoughts and feelings without comment or judgement; those who just listened.  That left Mum out.  And Dad.  At one time Luke’s first port of call when he needed to clear his head or puzzle a dilemma was the damson patch.  The rabbits’ listening skills were second to none.  Sadly Ash and Rusty had grown old and passed away in recent months.  Scratcher was still around but she’d moved into the house for company and was often so busy rearranging soft furnishings that it was hard to get her undivided attention.  That very morning she’d spent half an hour dragging the back doormat into the dining room.  She seemed to prefer it there, no one knew why.  Thankfully Dudley was always ready to lend an ear.

“Tomorrow’s C-Day,” said Luke, as if Dudley didn’t already know.  “Mum an’ Dad are goin’ to London to help Aunt Clara move so that’s perfect timing.  We should be able to get the chickens all tucked in before they get back.  As long as Tania’s dad gets ’em here in time.  She told him to go early but he said it was a long drive so he doesn’t know how long it’ll take.”

Tania had told her dad a white lie.  She didn’t want to but Luke reminded her the chickens would be killed if she didn’t.  She told him that Luke’s mum had an ingrowing toenail and his dad had to take her to hospital to have it removed so they wouldn’t be able to pick up the chickens they were adopting.  She asked him if he’d mind doing it instead and he kindly agreed. Tania’s dad had never met Luke’s parents and with any luck he never would.
Luke arrived with Dudley at the allotments, unlocked the gate and walked between the immaculate plots en route to his own.  The weird thing was, some of them didn’t look quite as immaculate as usual. What was yesterday a neat row of cabbages, now looked as though it had been trampled by a football team.  Some were strewn across the path and a couple of them had rolled under someone else’s bean poles.  The carrots on an adjacent plot had also been rudely and prematurely unearthed.  Dudley attempted to investigate but Luke wouldn’t let him.

“Dudley no!”  Luke wound the lead more tightly around his hand.  “If anyone sees you doin’ that they’ll think you made this mess.  An’ they’ll blame me!”

In fact the blame was fast approaching Luke’s position, as he soon realised.  The trail of destruction led all the way back to his own plot, at which the gate was swinging open.  There was no sign of Curly and Squirt.

“Curly! Squirt!” he called frantically.  He rushed to the shed and looked inside; he looked behind it and under the bushes.  They were gone.  Dudley started sniffing eagerly.  He seemed to be onto something.  “Where are they boy?” Luke let go of the lead.  “Find them boy, find Curly and Squirt!”  Dudley followed his nose across the grass to the open gate, out of the gate and along the path until he arrived back at the scattered carrots.  He loved carrots.

“No!  Stop it Dudley!  We’ve got to find Curly and Squirt!”

“Young man,” Luke was startled by the deep voice behind him.  He turned to face Allotment Committee Man, otherwise known as Mr Fred Tipton.  “I believe these belong to you.”  Mr Tipton offered Luke one end of a long piece of rope.  At its other end stood a very curly haired ewe, accompanied by her son.

“Thank you!” said Luke, “where have you been?” he asked them, “you had me worried sick!”

“Where they’ve been,” said Mr Tipton, “is all over these garden plots.  They’ve done a heck of a lot of damage.”

“I’m really sorry about that,” said Luke, “I’ll put ’em back now.  It won’t happen again.”

“No it won’t because you won’t be keeping them here any more.”

“What?  That’s not fair, it wasn’t my fault!”

“Whose fault was it then?”

“I don’t know.  Whoever opened the gate!”

“Who checked on them this morning?”

“Me.  But I bolted the gate!  I know I did!  I always bolt the gate!”

“You must have forgotten today.”

“I didn’t!” Luke insisted. “Somebody else must have let ’em out!  On purpose to get me in trouble!”

“They’re your responsib…”

“Somebody who wants an allotment!  Whoever’s next on your waitin’ list – they’ve got motive!”

Mr Tipton shook his head.  “I can’t run the risk of this happening again.”

“It won’t,” said Luke pleadingly, “I’ll get a lock, so no one else can open it!  Please don’t make us leave!”

“I’m sorry, the decision’s been made.  No more animals are to be kept on these allotments.”

Luke, Curly, Little Squirt and Dudley walked slowly home.  They cut through the park and Luke racked his brains for inspiration.  Would Mum and Dad let him keep the sheep at home?  After all, the garden was big enough.  And there was nowhere else they could go.  Plus, it wasn’t his fault.  He’d bolted the gate that morning, he knew he had. Someone else had let them out, whatever Mr Tipton said.

Half way across the playing field his cogitation was interrupted by someone calling his name.

“Walker!  Nice sheep!”

A group of boys by the swings laughed but Luke ignored them. He had more important things to worry about.

“Got kicked off the allotments did ya?”  They all laughed again, even louder.  Luke kept walking.

“You should’ve kept the gate shut!”

This voice he recognised.  Luke stopped and looked across at the laughing boys.  At that moment he knew.  Butler did it!

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Story continues on Monday but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s stories, humour, animals, animal rights, animal rescue, vegan children, veggie kids, vegetarian, animal farming, chickens, birds

Getting ready

For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues from yesterday:

Joe changed the subject.  “How do we tell them we want to adopt some. Is there an email address?”

“Er, … oh no, it says we have to phone this number.  We’ve got to talk to them.”

“The farmer?”

“No, Wixham Animal Action.”  Isabel was concerned.  “They’re not going to let us adopt without parental consent are they?”

“You do it,” said Luke.

“Me?”  Tania was apprehensive.

“Yeah, you’re good at soundin’ grown up.  Like when you did that impression of Mrs Tyler.  You sounded just like her.”

Tania smiled.  “Okay,” she said, picking up her phone, “what’s the number?”

While she waited for the call to be answered her heart beat hard and fast.  She turned away from the others so they wouldn’t make her laugh.

“Hello?” said the woman who eventually picked up.

“Oh, hello,” said Tania in her best Mrs Tyler voice.  “I would like to adopt some rescued chickens please.”

“Oh great, hang on a minute, let me get a pen. ….. Right, how many can you take?”

“Erm,” Tania looked at the others and mouthed ‘how many?’ but they didn’t understand her.  She put the phone on speaker.

“We like people to take at least three,” the woman advised, “because they’re sociable creatures.  Wouldn’t be happy on their own.”

“Oh yes of course,” said Tania, looking at the others for a sign.

“Shall I put you down for three?” the woman suggested, “or have you got room for more?”

Luke held up his open right hand.

“Five?” said Tania uncertainly.

Luke nodded.

“Five?” asked the woman.

“Yes,” Tania smiled, “five please.”

“Good.  Okay, now do you have a garden and a house for them?”

“A house?”

“A chicken house for them to sleep in.”

“Oh yes, a shed.”

“It’ll need nesting boxes and perches.  And it’ll need to be fox-proof,” the woman explained.

Luke nodded at Tania.

“Yes,” she said, “it will be.”

“Okay then, I’ll just take your name, address and phone number and then we’ll get back to you on the thirteenth to give you a pick up location and time.”

“Pick them up?”

“Yes. Is that a problem?”

“No no, that’ll be fine,” said Tania with feigned confidence.  “Absolutely fine.”

******

SATURDAY 7 JUNE

When the doorbell rang Luke rushed to answer it.

“Expecting someone?” asked Mum.

“Joe and the others.”

“Oh.  Will you be going out?” she called after him.  She’d been hoping to have the house to herself so she could give it a good spring clean.

Luke returned from the front door with his friends in tow.  “We’ll be in the garden,” he told his mother as they headed for the back door, “where’s Dad?”

“Working in the garage.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Mum was relieved until she remembered, “oh but you can’t go in there!” she shouted after him as he approached the garage door.  Luke stopped and looked back as Mum rushed down the garden path in her slippers.  “What do you want Dad for?” she asked, “he’s busy, doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Just wanted to borrow a screwdriver.”

“Okay, I’ll get it.  Flathead?”

“Phillips.”

“Okay.”  She entered the garage and closed the door behind her.

“Dad’s a bit grumpy,” Luke explained to his friends.  They nodded.  Moments later Mum emerged with the screwdriver and the Society resumed course for the damson patch.  They entered the shed.

“Not bad,” said Isabel.  “It’s solid.  Bit dusty but we can sweep it out no problem.  This’ll make a good chicken house.”

“Let’s put this on,” said Tania, “where do you want it?”

Luke showed her the hole he’d hammered in the wall years ago to make a door for the rabbits.  “Down here,” he said, moving the boxes that were blocking it.

“Perfect, that’s just the right size,” said Tania, holding the new cat flap up against it.  “Once we’ve got this on, the chickens can go in and out during the day and at night you can lock it closed to keep them safe.”

“Great,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks.”  He handed Tania the screwdriver and she got to work.

The others swept the floor, dusted off the cobwebs and cleaned the window.  In less than an hour, the shed was almost fit for purpose.

“What are you going to do about bedding?” asked Isabel.

“I’ll get straw from the bale in Curly and Squirt’s shed.”

“I thought it was better to use shavings.”

“Straw’s all I’ve got, it’ll have to do.”

“That’ll be fine,” said Tania. “What about nesting boxes?”

“Ahh,” said Luke, smiling.  He opened the door and went outside for a moment.  When he came back he was dragging an old rabbit hutch.  “This was what Butler kept Scratcher in before I rescued her,” he explained.  “When he left it out for the dustmen I went and got it.”  It was in good clean condition.  Luke opened the doors.  “I’ll take the doors off and make a straw bed on both sides.  They can lay their eggs in there if they want to.”

“There’s only room for two though,” said Isabel.

“Three,” said Luke, “I’m sure three of ’em could fit comfortably in there, and they’re not likely to all wanna lay an egg at the same time are they?”

“Actually,” said Joe, “don’t take the doors off.  If you open them wide and fix them open, the chicks can perch on them.”

“Good thinking!” Luke agreed, “What can we fix ’em with?”

At that moment Mum put her head round the door.  “Ready for lunch?” she asked. “Ooh, this looks tidy.  You have been busy.”

“Muuum!  This is a private meeting!” Luke escorted her back outside.

“What are you up to in there?” she asked, “is it going to be your HQ?”

“Er, yeah, that’s right,” it was as good a cover as any.

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s stories, humour, animals, animal rights, animal rescue, vegan children, veggie kids, vegetarian, animal farming, chickens, birds

Emergency Meeting

For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

SUNDAY 1 JUNE

An emergency meeting of the Secret Society was held in Luke’s bedroom.

“Did anybody’s parents say yes?” asked Luke. Everyone shook their heads.

“My dad said they’d ruin the garden,” said Tania.

“Yeah, that’s what my mum said,” agreed Isabel.

“Joe?  What did yours say?”

“Didn’t ask them.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why not?” Luke was more than a little affronted.

“To keep ’em at mine I mean, I don’t know what my lot would do to ’em.”

Luke nodded.  “There’s on’y one thing we can do then.”

“What?”

“Keep ’em at mine.”

“I thought your mum said no,” said Tania.

“Yeah but the way I see it, I’ve got the perfect place for ’em: the damson patch.  It’s fenced, it’s got a shed, and the rabbits don’t live there any more.”

“But if your mum said no …”

“It’s really overgrown now so I don’t think they’d notice.”

“They’re bound to tidy it up one day,” warned Joe, “they’ll see ’em eventually.”

“Yeah but not straight away.”

“But when they do – what will you do then?”

“By then I’ll have proved that I’m lookin’ after ’em properly, and still gettin’ all my homework done, and lookin’ after the other animals.  I’ll have proved her wrong so she’ll have to let me keep ’em.”

The others shook their heads again.

“You’ll never get away with it,” said Isabel, “even if you do at first you’ll be in a heck of a lot of trouble when they do find out.”

Luke shrugged.  “I’ve been in trouble before.”

“Ookaay.  It’s your funeral.”  Isabel opened her laptop.  “What’s that address again?”

When they reached Wixham Animal Action’s website, the chicken re-homing appeal was on the front page.

“It says here there’s nine thousand!”

“Nine thousand?  That’s a big farm!  Is it closing down?” asked Tania.

“Erm …. no.  They’re just getting new hens.”

“Why?”

“Says here it’s the law.  Hens can’t be more than seventy two weeks old because after that their eggs aren’t good enough for supermarkets.”

“So they replace them with new ones?”

“Yeah.  Look, it says they would normally go to slaughter at seventy two weeks but this farmer doesn’t want them to be killed.”

“Why is he a farmer then?” asked Luke.  Isabel continued to read silently.  “Why is he a farmer if he don’t like killin’ animals?” Luke asked again.

“She.  Well, they.  It’s a family farm,” explained Isabel.  “Look at this picture – it’s an organic free-range farm.  The chickens look happy don’t they?”

“Yeah but they’re still gonna be killed.”

“Well she’s trying to get them re-homed so they won’t be killed.”

“Let me get this straight,” Luke’s hackles were up.  “These are nice farmers who don’t want their chickens to be killed so every seventy two weeks – what’s that, a year and a half? – they’ve got to find homes for nine thousand birds?”

“Yes.”

“But if they can’t find enough homes they go to slaughter anyway?”

“Yes but that’s why …”

“And then they breed another nine thousand new chickens who are gonna need homes the next year otherwise they’ll go to slaughter as well.”

“Yes.”

“So this’ll happen every other year.”

“Erm, I guess so – yeah, it says here they’ve done it eight times before.”

“And in all that time it never occurred to ’em that the best way to make sure your birds don’t get slaughtered is to stop bein’ chicken farmers!”

Isabel did her best to zone him out while she continued to read.  “Well, the farmer says that most people won’t go vegan so if she closed down her high welfare, organic, free range farm, people would just buy their eggs from low-welfare factory farms and that would be much worse for the chickens.”

“That’s a rather defeatist attitude,” said Tania.

“She says you should blame the consumer not the farmer,” added Isabel, “if consumers didn’t buy them the farmers wouldn’t produce them.”

“Of course,” said Tania, “the farmers are blameless!” and she winked at Luke.  Luke sighed.

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s stories, humour, animals, animal rights, animal rescue, vegan children, veggie kids, vegetarian, animal farming

Luke Walker Chapter 24 starts here!

For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀

Chapter Twenty Four:
Rescue

SATURDAY 31 MAY

“Can I wait for you at the park?”

“No.”

“Can I wait at the library?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not going to be long.”

“I won’t be long either.”

“Luke.  I’ve just got a couple of things to get in here and then we’re going straight home.  I haven’t got time to run around after you.”

Luke hated shopping.  It was so boring.  “I’m waitin’ outside then.”

“Fine.  But don’t go anywhere.”

The health food shop was small and crowded so he was glad that at least he didn’t have to follow Mum in.  However, time never passed quickly for a person waiting.  After standing there for a couple of minutes he decided to read the posters on the window.  One in particular interested him very much.

As soon as Mum came out of the shop Luke rushed to help her.  “I’ll carry that for you.”

“Oh. Thank you.”  They walked back to the car.  “I got a big peanut butter this time.  You boys get through it so quickly.”

“Great.”

“And I found some mushroom and leek pies that look good.  They’re organic and gluten-free.”

“Great.”

“The shop lady says they’re lovely.”

“I bet they are.”

Mrs Walker was pleased that Luke seemed in a better mood than he was ten minutes earlier but there was something odd about him.  “You alright Luke?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said absent-mindedly, “jus’ thinkin’ about … the pies.”

“Really?”

“Mmm?  Yeah. ….. Er, Mum?”

“Yes?”

“Can we rescue some chickens?”

“No.”

“I’d look after ’em – you wouldn’t have to do anything.”

“Don’t you think you’ve got enough on your plate?”  He shook his head but she continued.  “You’ve already got Curly and Squirt to look after, and Scratcher, and Dudley.”

“I could do it!”

“Plus you get a lot more homework than you used to.”  She started the car.

“Please!”

“No.”

“They’ll kill ’em if we don’t take ’em!”

“I said no!”

When her son dropped the argument Mrs Walker assumed the matter was settled.  But really, she should have known better.

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s stories, humour, animals, animal rights, animal rescue, vegan children, veggie kids, vegetarian

Luke Walker chapter 23 starts here!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

Chapter Twenty Three:
Activists

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Good luck with it.  I’m glad someone’s finally taking them to task for this,” the old lady smiled and continued on her way.

“How many does that make?” asked Luke.

“Seven hundred and eighty one.”

“That’s pretty good.”

“Yeah but I’d rather have a thousand.”

“When we’ve got a thousand we should send it to ’em.”

“Yeah.  Then they’ll have to listen.”  Tania put the petition clipboard into her bag and the Society made their way back along the pedestrianised precinct.

“Sponsor us to do the fun run?”  Two small boys dressed in Cubs uniforms sat at a table behind a pile of sponsor forms.

Isabel smiled.  “What are you raising money for?”

“Hearts Foundation,” answered one of them.

“The British Heart Foundation,” their Akela corrected him.

Isabel looked at her list.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” she told them, “the British Heart Foundation is on the red list.  We can’t support them.”

“What’s the red list?” asked the other boy.

Isabel showed him.  “Charities on the red list do experiments on animals.”

“What kind of experiments?”

“They poison ’em, give ’em diseases, cut ’em up and then kill ’em,” Luke explained.

The boys looked shocked.

“Why’d they do that?” asked one of them.

“They say they do it because they’re trying to find cures for human diseases,” said Tania, “but it’s pointless because human bodies are not the same as other animals so they don’t react the same to diseases or medicines.”

“I’m not doing it!” said one of the Cubs firmly.

“Nor am I,” agreed the other one.

“Are you sure?” asked the Akela, “The British Heart Foundation?  Surely they already know what causes heart disease, and how to prevent it.”

Isabel showed her the list.

“My goodness, there’s a lot of them on here,” she said, making a mental note to cancel her standing order to the Wellcome Trust.

“Shall we pack up?” asked a Cub.

“There’s a list of good charities on the other side,” said Isabel, “you could support one of them instead.”

The woman turned the leaflet over and looked at the green list.  “Oh yes, there’s a lot to choose from .…… Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research …… ooh there’s a heart one – Heart UK, the Cholesterol Charity.”

“Let’s do that one!”

The Akela picked up the sponsor forms and thought for a moment.  “Okay,” she said, “this is actually an easy fix. We’ll get some new sponsor forms printed at the library with Heart UK on them instead of British Heart Foundation and then we can come back here and pick up where we left off!”

The boys were slightly disappointed, having reasoned that the abandonment of BHF would mean they could pack up for the day, but they were very pleased that at least they wouldn’t be supporting animal cruelty.

“Where can I get one of those by the way?”

Isabel looked at the small print at the bottom of the list, “Animal Aid makes them,” she said, “animal aid dot org dot UK.”

“Right.  Thank you for telling me.”  The Akela smiled and escorted her Cubs to the library.

****

“That’s the third time that’s happened to me,” said Isabel.

“Cubs asking you for money?” asked Joe.

“No, someone thanking me for telling them about a charity that’s experimenting on animals.  And they all said they won’t support them again.”

“It just goes to show,” said Tania, “most people don’t want their money spent on animal torture.”

“Yeah!  So it should be the law that when charities ask for money they have to tell people exactly what it’ll be used for.”

“Yeah,” said Joe, “they should put it on their posters.”

“And on their shop windows and their collectin’ tins and their adverts,” added Luke.

“Yeah!” said Tania, “let’s have some real transparency!”

“If only!” said Isabel.

“If wishes were horses,” said Luke, without really knowing what that meant, “we could make a horse of a different colour!”

“What?”

“We should do it!”

“Do what?”

“Put the truth on their posters.”

“You mean stickers,” said Joe, the only person who could follow Luke’s train of thought.

“I do.”

Isabel and Tania looked at each other and smiled.

“On’y thing is,” said Luke, “where do we get the stickers?”

 

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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vegan, vegetarian, animal rights, children, vegan children, vegan activists, short story, humour, juvenile fiction, veggie kids, vegan stories, vegan children’s stories

Luke read the letter

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Story continues from yesterday:

Luke read the letter.

“Explain,” said Dad, “and the truth this time.  What did you send that caused alarm to the receivers?”

Luke explained.  “They’re s’posed to be lookin’ after animals, not killin’ em!  They’re pretendin’ it’s not cruel to kill ’em for meat so I found a picture on the internet of a bull bein’ killed in a slaughterhouse an’ I printed it out to show ’em how cruel it is.  To show ’em so they wun’t keep doin’ it!”

Mum and Dad looked at each other without saying anything.  Luke couldn’t tell whether they were still mad.  He was about to make another attempt at convincing them he was right when Dad spoke up.

“And you sent this to their homes?”  Luke nodded.  “Well of course they were upset! You shouldn’t be writing to people’s home addresses Luke, that’s out of order!  If you’ve got a problem with a company, you write to the company!”

“I did!  We did!  We wrote loadsa times to the sanctuary and they ignored us!  For months!  Then Tania’s mum said it was trustees who decided things at charities and they’re s’posed to run the charity for the reasons it was set up which is to prevent unnecessary sufferin’.  So Maybury’s payin’ for unnecessary sufferin’ – coz it’s not necessary for people to eat animals – instead of preventin’ it.  So Tania said they had no right to ignore us coz they should be countable for their actions and they’re breakin’ charity law so someone’s got to hold them to count for that!  So one of us found their addresses from, erm, a website and we started writin’ to them at home.”

“One of us?”

“Don’t matter who.  It’s not illegal.”

“And did that make them answer you?”

“No.”

“If you were hoping for a response you must have put our address on your letters,” said Mum.

“No. I didn’t,”  Luke insisted.  “We give ’em an email address to reply to.”

Dad took a deep breath.  “These are good people Luke, they donate their time and their expertise to help an animal sanctuary.  You’ve made your feelings clear and they’ve heard you.  There’s nothing more you can do.  You can’t force them to change.  Sending them grisly pictures of slaughtered animals is going too far.  No wonder they were upset.”

Luke was incensed.  “They’re upset?!  They’re the ones who did it!  D’you think I liked lookin’ at that picture?  No – I didn’t.  Nobody wants to look at that, but people who pay for it to happen have no right to complain!”

“Luke,” Dad began.

“No, he’s right,”  interrupted Mum.  “It’s these people’s responsibility to run the charity by the principles it was started on.  And if they go astray they have to be answerable.  They should have answered the children’s very reasonable request in the first place.  Ignoring them left the children with no other recourse than to write to them at home.  They brought it on themselves.”

Luke was relieved that he’d finally got through to somebody.  He nodded and looked at Dad who was harder to read.

“But you mustn’t be abusive in these letters,”  Mum added.

“I’m not.”

“Or threatening, or use any foul language.”

“I don’t.  I wouldn’t.  I never have.  I jus’ tell the truth.  We all just tell the truth and ask ’em to stop.  To save all the animals like they’re s’posed to.”

Dad still didn’t say anything.

Mum nodded.  “Good, okay.”

Perceiving that the inquest was over, Luke left the room.

“Weird though,” Mrs Walker commented, “how did the police get our address?  That creeps me out.”

Her husband shrugged. “I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation.”

****

Luke opened his bedroom door and grinned at his friend.

“What?” asked Joe.

“We’ve had a reply from Maybury!”

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More Luke Walker coming soon.  For the first twenty chapters click here 😀

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“I didn’t do it!”

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Story continues from Friday:

When he entered the kitchen Mum had her back to him but she knew he was there.

“I got a letter from the police,” she told him.

“About what?” asked Luke, trying to sound casual.  Mum turned to face him.

“Luuuke!”

“Whaaat?”

“Your face!”

Luke rubbed his face and smeared the tattoo.  “It’s alright, it’ll come off.”

“Is that my eye liner?”

Dad stepped out of the pantry and suppressed a smile.  “Sit down please Luke, we need to talk to you.”

Luke sat down.

“The police seem to think I’ve been harassing the Maybury trustees,” said Mum.

Luke raised his eyebrows.  “Why would they think that?”

“I can’t imagine,” said Mum, “unless someone else has been writing letters and signing my name on them.”  She clearly thought it was him but it wasn’t.  He wouldn’t do that.  Why would he?  That would be a very stupid thing to do.  Anything that led back to her led back to him.  He never signed his letters and he certainly didn’t put a return address on them.  So how had the police got her name and address?  Was he being watched?  Was he under police surveillance?  What else did they know?  This was very troubling indeed.

There was, in fact, a very simple explanation.  For over two years the Secret Society of animal stick up for-ers had been writing to Maybury Centre for Animal Welfare, asking them to make their cafe vegan.  At first Luke wrote once a week, sometimes twice.  But when the Society realised the charity trustees were the decision-makers they decided to write directly to them.  There were six trustees so that meant writing six letters a week and stamps became prohibitively expensive.  But Luke wasn’t going to let a little thing like insufficient funds prevent him from doing something this important.  So, he continued to write and when he didn’t have enough money for the stamps he scavenged them from his mother’s purse.  He was sure she wouldn’t mind.  After all, it was Mum who suggested he write to them in the first place.  A couple of times, when there were no stamps to be found in her purse, he had hidden his letters in a pile on the kitchen counter.  Mum was quite a devoted correspondent herself.  She wrote to her friend Margaret in Wales; to Uncle Max and Auntie Beatrice who lived in Torquay; and to a couple of old school friends, Kath and Myrtle, who had moved to Stoke-on-Trent and Edinburgh respectively.  Sometimes there wasn’t much to tell them so she’d just write a brief note on a postcard but she always put whatever she was sending in a plain white envelope from the box in the sideboard.  Luke was getting all his envelopes from the same box so it was easy to slip his letters into her pile without her noticing and then she would put stamps on them at the post office by lifting the top right hand corner of each envelope just enough to add the stamp.  He’d seen her do it.  She never reviewed the names and addresses once she’d sealed the envelopes.  What Luke didn’t know was that she also put one of her return address labels on the top left hand corner of each envelope in the same way.

Mum was staring at him, waiting for an answer.

“I didn’t do it,” he said truthfully.  “I didn’t!  Why would I?”

“Did you write offensive letters to these people?” asked Dad coldly.

“I just ask ’em to make the cafe vegan.  Maybe that does offend ’em, I don’t know.”

“Nothing else?  You’re not threatening or abusive?”

“No!” said Luke, annoyed at the accusation.  “I jus’ tell ’em, like you said.  I tell ’em I don’t like ’em sellin’ meat an’ fish an’ everything that’s cruel to animals, and I tell ’em they should know better.  Stuff like that.”

Mum handed him the letter.  “So how do you explain this?”

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

but if you don’t want to wait you can click here to read it now!

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vegan, vegetarian, veggie kids, vegan children, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, juvenile fiction, humour, animals, animal rights, animal welfare

Luke Walker chapter twenty starts here!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 20:  The Letter

When the envelope dropped onto the mat it looked ominous.  Mum was nervous about opening it.  Why the police would be writing to her she couldn’t imagine.  Well, actually, she could imagine but she didn’t want to.  She reassured herself that it wasn’t to inform her that someone close to her had been in an accident, they wouldn’t do that by second class post.  So what could it be?  Jury duty?  No, that doesn’t come from the police.  The quickest way to find out, of course, would be to just open it, but before doing that she really wanted to think of something not horrible that it might be about.  Sadly, Luke’s mother found it impossible to do that.  She took a deep breath and ripped it open.

****

“I’m in.”

“Bio-dampers are workin’ at optium.  They can’t detect you.”

“Good.”

“Work fast.  Dampers are fluttuatin’, I don’t know how much longer I can keep you hidden.”

“Just placing the. Last. One …. Done!  One to beam up.”

“Can’t get a lock.  The Borg shields are too thick.  Get to the cargo bay – I should be able to beam you out from there.”

“’scuse me Captain Janeway, Mum wants you.”

“Jared!” Luke scowled at his brother.

“Ha ha ha ha, oh, I stand corrected.  Sorry Commander Chakotay.  Nice tattoo.”  Jared walked away laughing.

Joe climbed down from the top bunk and picked up his doodle pad. “I’ll wait here.”

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Story continues on Monday, but if you don’t want to wait you can click here now 😀 

Have a great weekend! ❤ 

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vegan, vegetarian, veggie kids, vegan children, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, juvenile fiction, humour,

There was a young man who swallowed a fly

There was a young man who swallowed a fly.

He didn’t mean to swallow a fly – I doubt he’ll die.

****

There was a young man who swallowed a fish,

A sad grey fish, dead on the dish.

And he did mean to swallow the fish

Unlike the fly – Perhaps he’ll die!

****

There was a young man who swallowed a bird,

How absurd, to swallow a bird!

And he did mean to swallow the bird

Unlike the fly – Perhaps he’ll die!

****

There was a young man who swallowed a pig,

Poor little pig who wasn’t big.

And he did mean to swallow the pig

Unlike the fly – Perhaps he’ll die!

****

There was a young man who swallowed a lamb,

Sweet little lamb, a baby ram.

And he did mean to swallow the lamb

Unlike the fly – Perhaps he’ll die!

****

There was a young man who swallowed a cow,

A gentle cow who’d grazed under the bough.

And he did mean to swallow the cow

Unlike the fly – Perhaps he’ll die!

****

And when the young man was not so young,

He felt the weight of all he’d done.

The fat in his liver and fuzz in his mind

Made him wish he’d at least been kind

And swallowed some tofu instead of fish,

And put beans not birds in his oven dish,

And swallowed brown mushrooms instead of piglets,

And cooked lentils and onions instead of lamb cutlets.

If only, he wished, he’d not eaten a cow

Then surely he’d be in good health right now.

****

There was a young man who swallowed a fly.

Of course he’ll die, but that’s not why.

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan nursery rhymes, vegan poem, nursery rhyme parody, humor, vegan children

“WE COME TO WARN YOU …”

For the story so far, click here 😀

“This was on the news?”  Joe was incredulous.

“They hijacked the news!” Luke explained.  “The picture of the news reader stayed the same but instead of him reading the news all anyone could hear was this crackly message from Vrillon of the Ashtar Galactic Command!”

Joe pulled a face. “That sounds made up.”

“Well some people say it was made up but they never found the hijacker and they couldn’t find any actual evidence that it was a hoax.  Plus, it fits with what they say in the Unacknowledged film.”  Luke paused to give Joe time to take it all in before continuing.  “And another bit of the message says there are more beings around the Earth than your scientists admit; and it says there are lots of false profits telling us lies.”

“Well we know that.”

“Exactly.”

“We can’t trust anyone,” said Joe, repeating what Luke had told him many times before.  “We have to find out for ourselves what’s true.”

“Yeah.  So then I found this other book online that was written by a man who talked to aliens by meditatin’ with big groups of people and the aliens talked back to them and there’s a conversation between two of the aliens that he wrote down.  It’s an old alien tellin’ a young alien all about planet Earth and he says it’s the only planet where mankind don’t seem to care about the rule ‘thou shalt not kill’.”

“So that proves it then!” said Joe excitedly, “they agree with us and they’ll definitely help us!”

“Definitely!” agreed Luke.

****

On Saturday afternoon the Society met at Gingham country park.  Curly and Squirt came too – they loved the country park.  In a quiet grove, away from the main path, Isabel showed them how to meditate.

“Find yourself a comfortable spot,” she said, making her voice as soothing as she could.  “Sit or lay down, and close your eyes.”

They all closed their eyes.

“Focus on your breathing.”

They all breathed deeply and slowly.

“Stop it!” Luke whispered firmly, “get off!”

Squirt relinquished Luke’s hair as ordered and joined his mother at a patch of dandelions.

“Concentrate on each breath.  Notice how each inhalation moves your chest and your shoulders.  And notice how your body moves with each exhalation.”

“Blackcap.” Joe opened his eyes to look for the bird.

“What?”

“Listen. That’s a …”

“Shh,” Isabel commanded gently without opening her eyes.  “Bring your focus back to your breath.  Put the birds in the background.  Put everything else in the background.  Concentrate on each breath.”

After about three minutes, Isabel’s soft voice instructed them all to open their eyes.  “Well done,” she told them, “that’s meditation.”

“That was easy,” said Luke, “how long d’you think before we can talk to aliens?”

“Well, it’s going to take a while before you’re ready for that.  You have to practise every day and gradually do it for longer and longer until you can be completely absorbed by the meditation.  Not easily distracted.”

That wasn’t what Luke wanted to hear.  “For how long – a few weeks?”

“It can’t be rushed.  It’ll take as long as it takes.  The idea is to separate yourself from your thoughts – to observe them without judgement; to know that you’re not your mind so that you’re not limited by it.  When you know that you won’t be confined by who you thought you were.  You’ll be a free ocean of awareness that can do anything.”
Luke grumbled.  “That sounds like it’ll take ages.”

Joe closed his eyes again and listened to the birds. “I don’t mind,” he said.

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More Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er coming soon 😀

Have a great weekend 😀

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#vegan, #vegan children, #veggie kids, #vegan children’s story, #humour, #creative writing, #aliens

Keep it low-tech!

For the story so far, click here 😀

Luke walked home with the documentary going round and round in his head.  According to all these people – scientists, astronauts, pilots, army people, loads of people – aliens had already visited Earth and they’d been visiting for ages.  It felt good to know there were powerful beings out there who might make the humans look after the world and the animals.  He felt sure they would.  He felt it in his gut.  He just had to find a way of contacting them.  When he got home he asked Mum if he could use the computer.

“What for?”

He decided against sharing his ideas with her at this stage, she had a way of slowing things down.  “Homework,” he said.

“Shut it down properly when you’ve finished and don’t be too long, dinner will be ready in forty five minutes.”

Luke googled ‘how to communicate with aliens’ and found pages and pages of information.  He put the forty five minutes to good use and his pen moved faster than it ever had before.  By the time he was called to dinner his notebook was crammed with fascinating ideas.  The following morning, at breaktime, he shared them with Joe.

“I looked it up.”

“What?”

“How to communicate with aliens.”

“Did you find anything?”

“Loadsa stuff.”

“Great!  So how do we do it?”

“Well, there’s lots of people already tryin’ to do it, with messages sent up into space, and radio waves broadcast into space and stuff like that.”

“Stuff we wouldn’t be able to do.”

“Yeah, but some websites think that people who are really enlightened …”

“Enlightened?”

“People like us who don’t eat anybody or kill anybody an’ are tryin’ to save the planet.”

“So we’d be able to talk to the aliens?”

“Yeah, but we have to meditate to do it.  Like telepathy – talkin’ to ’em with our minds.”

“How do we do that?”

“Well, I’m not ezzactly sure yet but the thing is, it’s somethin’ people can learn to do and you don’t need any expensive equipment for it, you just need to concentrate an’ be peaceful.”

“Like yoga?”

“erm, yeah, I guess so.”

“Isabel does yoga!  She could teach us!”

“Great!”

“I could phone her tonight.  No.  Let’s email her now! I’ve got her school email address.  She said she checks it every lunchtime.”

“No.  We have to keep it low-tech.  You never know who’s watchin’ and listenin’,” said Luke whose outlaw guard was never down.  “We’ve got to talk to her in person.  We’ll show her this as well.”

He handed Joe his research notes and pointed to the transcript of an alien message which hijacked the television News in the south of England on the 26 November 1977.

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Story continues tomorrow, or if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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#vegan, #vegan children, #veggie kids, #vegan children’s story, #humour, #creative writing, #aliens

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er, chapter nineteen starts here!

For the story so far, click here 😀

Chapter Nineteen:  Aliens

As the credits rolled at the end of the documentary, Joe shared a revelation of his own.

“I think I saw one,” he said, confidentially.

Luke’s attempt to gasp sent a morsel of his beetroot sandwich down the wrong way.  After a long fit of coughing he spoke. “When?”

“Are you alright? Your eyes are watering.”

“Yeah,” said Luke and after another couple of small coughs insisted that Joe tell him more.

“On holiday, last year.  We went to Stonehenge.  Remember I told you?”

“Mmm,” Luke had taken another bite and was careful not to talk with his mouth full.  He gestured for Joe to continue.

“It was a nice day but quite windy.  We had a picnic and I was laying on my back looking at the sky.  There were lots of white fluffy clouds moving quite fast in the wind but one of them didn’t move.  I thought it was weird so I watched it for a while. Loads of clouds blew past it but it never moved.”

Luke was disappointed.  “Is that all?  It was prob’ly …”

“I’m not finished!”

“Oh.”

“I showed it to the others but they weren’t interested.  But I knew there was something weird about it so I kept watching.”

“That’s not rea…”

“I kept watching it,” Joe was determined to finish, “and after a few minutes it was the only cloud there.  All the other clouds blew past it so it was on its own in the blue sky.  Then suddenly it shot up, straight up, and disappeared.”

“You mean it flew?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t the wind again?”

“Yes.  Definitely.  It didn’t move along sideways in the wind like the others.  It flew straight up, really really fast.  It was gone in a second.”

“So you think a spaceship was hiding in the cloud.  Or disguised as a cloud.”

“Yeah, it must’ve been.”

There was a brief pause while Luke absorbed the enormity of it.  “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”

“I didn’t think you’d believe me.  I could hardly believe it myself.  But after seeing this film …”

“You saw one – I’m sure of it!”

Joe smiled broadly.  “When I saw this film and it said the Americans tried to chase a UFO over Stonehenge it made me really sure I didn’t imagine it.  Maybe they like Stonehenge.  Maybe they built Stonehenge!”

That made a lot of sense to Luke.  “Yeah. Coz how could people have built it five thousand years ago?  They didn’t have lorries or cranes or anythin’ that could’ve lifted them massive stones, let alone bring ’em all the way from Wales.”

“Exactly!” said Joe, “hang on, Janet’ll be home in a minute.”  He closed his sister’s laptop and returned it to her room, being careful to leave it exactly where he’d found it.  When he got back to his own room, Luke had plenty more to say.

“I think we should try to contact them.  Send them a message.”

“How?”

“I dunno yet but we need to tell ’em how the nuclear bomb people are gonna hurt them.”

“I think that man on the film is trying to do that already.”

“Oh yeah. Good.”  But that wasn’t Luke’s only idea.  “Hey – since they’re good aliens who want peace and not bombs and violence – maybe they’d help the animals if we could get a message to them.”

“How d’ya mean?”

“Like openin’ all the cages and closin’ down the farms.  Jus’ like when they went to that army base an’ shut down all the nuclear weapons.  I’m sure they could do it, they just might not know it needs to be done.”

“It’s a good idea,” said Joe, supportively, “I just don’t know how we could tell them.”

“We have to find out.”

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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Alien illustration by Clker Free Vector Images of Pixabay

vegan, vegan children, veggie kids, vegan children’s story, humour, creative writing, aliens

The Not-So Crazy Cow

Here is an adorable book for little ones: The Not-So Crazy Cow by Dragana Vucic Dekic.

The Not-So Crazy Cow is a humorous, rhyming story about a cow who believes that the grass is greener somewhere else. Despite having royal treatment in her homeland of India, she longs to discover the big world. One day, she packs her bags, puts on her best hat, and sails from India to Europe. One wise stork tries to warn her of the upcoming challenges, but the cow follows her adventurous spirit to discover this for herself. Her journey is full of unexpected situations and very soon, the cow starts missing her homeland. This amusing book also presents an important question: who is crazy here? The cow or the world who treats her as if her life doesn’t matter?

This bright and colourful, energetic tale, told entirely in rhyme and filled with beautifully quirky illustrations by Szucher Agnes, is an absolute delight.

A gem for tiny tots who will love the funny, happy pictures and pick up the subliminal message that cows deserve to be valued and esteemed the whole world over.  Don’t worry, the not-so crazy cow returns home safely at the end 😀

I think this book would make an ideal gift for little non-vegans because the story’s not overtly vegan but it sows a precious seed that might inspire them to question the choices of their non-vegan caregivers in the future.

You can find out more about the author and her humorous picture books that bring across a positive message by encouraging empathy between all living beings, by going to her website: momthemuse.com

Author:  Dragana Vucic Dekic

Illustrator:  Szucher Agnes

Genre:  picture book/stories in rhyme

Recommended for pre-schoolers

Published July 2019

Format:  Paperback (43 pages) and Kindle Edition (20 pages)

ASIN:  B07VD6YGN5 (Kindle)

ISBN-10: 1077863551
ISBN-13: 978-1077863552
Paperback Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.3 x 21.6 cm

Paperback Price:  £8.22

Available from Amazon 😀

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vegan, vegan book, vegan children’s book, vegan picture book, vegan rhyming story, vegan children, animals, animal rights, cows, humour, illustration, books

What are you doing?!!!

If you want to read this chapter from the beginning, click here 🙂

Story continues from yesterday:

************

“What are you doing?” said an angry man.

“What are you doing?” returned Luke.

“Did you move my horse?”

“She’s your horse?” asked Luke, “you should look after her better! She don’t like it by the road!”

The man slammed his car door and climbed over the fence. “I know she doesn’t like it,” he said angrily, “that’s why I tied her there, so she can get used to it!”

“Why does she have to get used to it?” asked Luke, equally angry.

“I’m training her to pull a buggy,” said the man, “and if she’s easily spooked by traffic she could get us both killed!”

“You shun’t make her pull the buggy then!” said Luke, stating the obvious, “you shun’t make ‘er do anything she don’t wanna do!”

The man was livid. “Shouldn’t you be in school? What have you done with her bridle?”

“Don’t you tie her up again, that’s illegal!” said Luke, desperately, “an’ I should know, coz me mum and dad are police!”

“What?”

“Yeah, an’ they just arrested someone last week for leavin’ his horse tied up by the road!”

“What? That’s ridiculous!”

“Oh, is it?” said Luke with increasing confidence, “I’d have to disagree with you on that coz it happened. They arrested him on charges of ….. bad animal welfare.”

“The Animal Welfare Act?”

“Yes!” said Luke, thankful for the help. “The Animal Welfare Act makes it illegal to tie horses by the road because they don’t like it and it’s cruel!”

“I would never …!” the man was offended. “I have always taken exemplary care of my horses,” said the man, a little quieter, “I’ve done this training many times and none of them have ever been hurt.”

“Well, I wun’t do it again if I were you,” said Luke, “coz they’re crackin’ down.”

The man was uncertain whether to believe him but the boy seemed confident of his information. He decided to test him. “What police force do your parents work for?”

“Belton,” said Luke without hesitation.

“What are their badge numbers?”

“My mum’s is 2357, and my dad’s is 111317.” Mrs Cassidy was right, it is important to remember the prime numbers.

“I’ll check,” threatened the man.

“D’you wanna borra a pencil?” asked Luke.

The man shook his head and commenced retrieval of the bridle. “Stupid law!” he grumbled, “how am I supposed to train her now?”

“Well, I mean, who’d look after ‘er if you got arrested?”

The man didn’t answer, he just put her bridle back on.

“Has she got any friends?” Luke asked, sad that she wouldn’t be able to go to the horse sanctuary.

“I’ve got two other horses,” said the man, which was something of a relief.

“Bye Cocoa,” said Luke as the man led her into his trailer.

Luke watched wistfully as his new friend departed before his mind was brought sharply back into focus by the sight of his school bag on the ground. He looked at his watch. It was 9.25. The bell had gone almost an hour ago and his plight seemed hopeless. School was still half an hour away. Hopefully that was enough time for him to think of something.

He walked briskly, coming up with ideas and then dismissing them almost immediately. When he was just ten minutes away he was annoyed by a plastic carrier bag in the hedge.

“Flamin’ litter bugs!” he said with disgust, “I am sick an’ tired of clearin’ up other people’s mess!” He yanked the bag angrily from its roost and stuffed it into his pocket. Then he had an idea. A good one. He smiled. No need to worry. He wouldn’t have to stay after school today.

Twenty five minutes later Luke entered the school gates and made his way directly to the Deputy Head’s office. The Deputy Head, Mr Paxton, had been a teacher at Graywood Comp for over thirty years. He’d been there when Mum was there. She remembered him. According to her he was just as horrible in her day. He was one of those teachers who sorely missed corporal punishment. Inflicting it, not receiving it. He told them that every time someone talked in Assembly. Another important thing to note about Mr Paxton was his bad memory. He was always forgetting things – even things that had only just happened half an hour earlier – and he was very embarrassed about it. He seemed to think it would show weakness if he admitted his lapses so he never did. He always pretended to remember, even when it was obvious he didn’t. Luke knocked on his door.

“Come in!”

Luke entered with a carrier bag full of litter. “I’ve done it sir,” he said.

“Done what?” Mr Paxton scowled.

“Picked up the litter.”

Mr Paxton had no idea what Luke was talking about but, assuming he must have forgotten, he faked understanding. “Ahh, good!” he said gruffly, “and I hope you’ve learned your lesson!”

“Yes sir,” said Luke.

“Alright, go on with you, get to class!”

“But sir, ….” said Luke with feigned timidity.

“What? What now?”

“Well, you said you’d write me a note for Mr Flanagan. To explain why I was late.”

“Ahh, yes, quite right, I did,” said Paxton, almost remembering it himself. “Quite right,” he said again as he began to scrawl a brief explanation for Luke’s form tutor. “And your name? Come on come on, a thousand kids in this school and they expect me to remember all their names!”

“Luke Walker.”

“Yes, of course,” he said, finishing the note. “Here you go – now get to class!”

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For more Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

 

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vegan, vegetarian, veggie kids, vegan children, animals, horse, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour,

 

An unusual amount of traffic

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 18 continues from last week:

He stepped off the bus and looked up just in time to see Joe peering down at him from the top deck asking inaudibly what was going on. When the bus pulled away Luke felt like going home to bed. Why not? he thought. After all, he’d made every effort to catch the bus; it wasn’t his fault the driver was unreasonable. If he went to school now he’d be in trouble for being late whereas if he called in sick he could avoid that and have a day in bed. It was very tempting. However, today was woodwork and he didn’t want to miss that. It was the final day for working on his toolbox. Next week they’d got to start making picture frames. His toolbox was brilliant. He already had a padlock for it. It would fit his walkie talkies, the wire cutters he’d bought with his Christmas gift voucher and Jared’s Swiss Army knife for which he was currently in negotiations. With obvious effort, Luke hitched up his heavy rucksack and set off at a brisk pace. It was quarter past eight. If someone gave him a lift, he might still make it before the bell.

As he walked past the village shops, the pub, the cemetery and the allotments, he noticed that there was an unusual amount of traffic coming through the village, but his hoped-for offer of a lift didn’t materialise. Normally, since the dual carriageway had been built, the only vehicles entering the village belonged to residents or delivery vans. It was quicker now for drivers to bypass Gingham if they were headed anywhere else. But as Luke approached the northern edge of the village it was clear that today, for some reason, the main road was closed. Not only cars but vans, lorries, even ambulances, were taking the slower route, too fast, through the village. It was noisy and smelly. Luke kept walking.

When he crossed the boundary into the adjacent town he saw, across the road, a horse, tethered on the grass verge. She recoiled every time a vehicle rushed past her and if it was something big like a lorry she tugged and pulled at her reins, trying desperately to get away. She was tied to a wooden fence on the other side of the grass verge. She had no room to retreat from the traffic and was in considerable distress. Luke, no longer caring how late he was, crossed the road towards her at the first opportunity.

“Easy girl, easy,” he spoke soothingly in an effort to calm her and carefully took hold of the reins under her chin. Thanks to a brief lull in traffic she calmed and watched Luke as he smilingly whispered these same words to her over and over. He rested the heel of his left hand between her nostrils and softly stroked her beautiful nose. The next few passing cars were considerate, giving the horse a wide berth and driving slowly. Now that she was more relaxed, Luke took the opportunity to drop his bag to the floor and rummage in it for his apple. When he turned to look back up at her he was startled by a huge lorry that came out of nowhere. The horse panicked again, pulling her head up and back, trying desperately to free herself. Luke knew he had to get her away from the road. On the other side of the fence was a meadow. No crops, no animals. She would be much happier in there. Luke unbolted the gate and pushed it wide open. Then he stood with the mare, stroking her and talking to her to keep her calm while he waited for the traffic to die down again. Once he was sure she was calm, he untied her from the fence and encouraged her to come with him. Happy to move away from the road she followed him into the field.

“This is better isn’t it?” he smiled, “you’re safe from the traffic in here. The grass is short but there’s plenty of it. Oh, and there’s this,” he offered her his apple and she took it eagerly.

As the traffic built up again Luke was relieved to see that she remained relaxed. When she’d finished the apple, she bent her head to the grass at her feet and grazed comfortably. In this position her reigns dragged on the floor so Luke was worried she might trip on them. Best to take them off, he thought. He gently unfastened all the straps and lifted the bridle over her ears. She dropped the bit from her mouth and was free. Luke disposed of the tack over the fence, out of harm’s way. Now she looked happy and so was he.

He wondered how someone could just abandon her on the side of the road.

“I should think of a name for you,” said Luke, “erm, how about Cocoa? Yeah, that suits you.” He realised he was going to have to come up with a very persuasive argument to get his parents to let him keep her. Then again, maybe that wasn’t the best idea because she’d be lonely without another horse to keep her company. A better idea would be to ask the horse sanctuary to take her. The one that Isabel had told him about. Yes. Then she would have friends.

Just as Luke was deciding that he couldn’t possibly go to school now, a car pulled up at the gate.

“What are you doing?” said an angry man.

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Story concludes tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegetarian, veggie kids, vegan children, animals, horse, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, humour,

Sheep treats

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

A few minutes later, Luke and Dudley were en route to the allotments to see Curly and Squirt. It was cold. The scarcity of light before sunrise made it feel even colder but when they got there they were eagerly welcomed by mother and son. Luke reached into his pocket for the expected treats. He let his friends choose who had which. Squirt snatched the carrot before his mother got a look in but that was okay because Curly liked parsnips. Little Squirt had learned not to hesitate when it came to accepting treats because Dudley was rather partial to carrots too. In this instance, Dudley was compensated for his lack of carrot by the tasty piece of cardboard which had fluttered from pocket to ground, unnoticed by Luke, when he pulled out the sheep’s treats.

Luke let Dudley off the lead while he went to the big shed. He refilled the nets with alfalfa hay and cleaned up the muck before laying down a thick bed of clean straw. Then he went back outside to check on the water trough. As expected, it had frozen over. He looked for the trowel they used to break the ice. Mum had done it yesterday. Where had she put it? Luke looked at his watch: 7.35. It would take ten minutes to get back home and another five to return to the bus stop so he didn’t have much time. He looked under the tarpaulins at the back of the shed; he looked in the old wooden chest under the tarpaulins. Where was it? He didn’t have time for this! He went back outside and scanned the area. Hurrying around the whole of his plot, he looked under shrubs and behind the wood pile. Nothing. He tried without success to break the ice with his elbow and then rushed over to his dad’s plot, maybe she’d left it there. Finally, he found it. She’d stuck it into the ground behind the coiled hose. He tugged on it but it wouldn’t move. The ground was frozen and the trowel was stuck.

“Great,” thought Luke, “thanks Mum!” Then he had an idea. The tap to which the hose was connected had its pipe lagged. With any luck it hadn’t frozen. He attempted to turn it on. The cold metal hurt his hand but he tried as hard as he could to twist it. It was stuck. He looked at his watch again: 7.46. He pulled his hand into his thick coat sleeve and tried again. The padding helped. The tap started to give and then, finally, there was running water. He wet the earth around the trowel to soften it, turned off the tap, agitated the trowel back and forth until it came free and then ran back to the water trough. With all his strength he hacked into the thick ice and broke it into floating chunks. As fast as he could he tossed the chunks over to Dad’s plot so that they wouldn’t re-join. Luke’s gloved hands were wet and stinging with cold. Curly and Squirt ambled over for a drink. The trough was half empty now. Would that be enough water for them for today? Maybe not. But he didn’t have time to refill it. He’d tell Mum to do it. No, Mum said she was going to be out all day. She’d probably left already. He ran back to the tap, turned it on and directed the hose at the trough. It took two minutes to fill. Finally, everything was done. Luke unfastened the gate.

“Dudley,” he called, “c’m ‘ere boy, quick!” Dudley was so busy playing with Squirt that he didn’t notice he was being summoned. Luke made his voice deep and stern. “Dud-ley!”

Dudley looked over at Luke, thought for a moment, and then resumed his game. Luke growled. He re-fastened the gate and ran after his dog. Dudley and Squirt were very happy Luke had decided to join them and ran ahead of him around the shed, wagging their tails and shouting with joy. After three circuits of the shed and one sudden and uncomfortable slip to the ground, Luke changed tactics. He went into the shed where Curly was enjoying the hay.

“Alright Curly?” he asked as he gently stroked her back. She turned to nuzzle her nose against his hand briefly before resuming her meal. In less than a minute, Dudley and Squirt put their heads around the door, wondering if they could get some of whatever Curly was getting. Luke smiled and put his hand in his pocket. The playmates hurried over for whatever he’d got for them and Luke clipped the lead to Dudley’s collar before they realised their mistake. They got over their disappointment easily while Luke, with a quick goodbye over his shoulder, ran with Dudley all the way home.

It was gone eight when he passed the bus stop which was still crowded with people. There was still hope. Luke stopped to catch his breath and Dudley took the opportunity to sniff for evidence of interlopers on the grass verge.

“Come on Dudley!” Luke chivvied, and the two of them pushed themselves to the limit. As soon as they got home, Dudley headed back to bed for a well-earned rest and Luke envied him. When he rushed back down the hill, slowed only slightly by his heavy school bag, he was relieved to see the bus had still not arrived. It pulled up just as he crossed the road to join the back of the queue. Ten past eight. Not bad considering. Sweating and out of breath, Luke undid his coat and took off his scarf as the queue moved forward. Passengers raced up the stairs and threw themselves onto the seats, making the bus sway. With just a couple of people now ahead of him, Luke put his hand in his pocket for his bus pass. Not there. He checked his other pocket. No. He checked his back pocket, he checked his coat pockets. Nothing. He looked up to meet the driver’s weary gaze.

“I can’t find my bus pass,” he confessed.

“I can’t let you on then,” returned the driver.

“I have got a bus pass,” Luke explained, “I am s’posed to be on this bus. I’ve just lost it.”

“You’ll have to get a new one then won’t you?”

“Yeah,” said Luke, relieved, and climbed aboard.

“Not without a bus pass. Step down please.”

“But I’ll be late!”

“So you will. Not my problem. Get. Off.”

*********************************************************

Story continues on Monday 😀

but if you don’t want to wait the whole chapter is right here 😉

Have a great weekend 😀

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Luke Walker chapter 18 starts here!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 18:  Late

“Katie Treacle.”

“Yes.”

“Michael Vickers.”

“Yes.”

“Justine Waits.”

“Here.”

“Luke Walker.” Mr Flanagan looked up from the register. “Luke Walker,” he said again.

Luke still hadn’t gotten used to catching the bus to school. He didn’t like rushing but he also didn’t like getting up early, and one or the other was now necessary. Graywood Comprehensive began its day at an uncivilised 8.30 am. What was even worse was that everyone was supposed to be on the premises ten minutes before that. The school bus, therefore, arrived at Gingham village square at 8 am every weekday morning and thirty two eager minds were supposed to meet it there. It was rare that all of them did. Luke, for one, would have preferred to make the two and a half mile journey by bike, but Mum said no because the roads were dangerous at that time of day. Then he thought he might walk, but when Dad told him he’d have to leave home at quarter past seven he was forced to reconsider and accept his fate on the noisy, smelly, crowded bus. The biggest problem with buses was that they amplified lateness. Luke had always had trouble getting out of bed but he’d found that if he hurried his breakfast, didn’t have a wash, and cut through the vicar’s garden instead of going the long way round, he was rarely late for school. That wasn’t possible any more. If he was just one minute late for the bus, he would be an hour late for school.

On Monday his form tutor, Mr Flanagan, told him that, from now on, every time he was late he would be forced to stay late at the end of the day. This motivated him more than anything else had to make sure he was on time. Luke had things to do after school, he couldn’t afford to get stuck there. So, for the first time ever, he decided to use the alarm clock Auntie Jane bought him for his last birthday. He set it for 5.30am.

It was cold and dark on Tuesday morning when Luke was rudely provoked into consciousness. He reached for the alarm but couldn’t find the off button so he pulled it under the covers and held it tight in an attempt to mute the noise. After a few very long seconds of fumbling he found the off switch and relaxed again. He closed his eyes and started to drift back to sleep. Luckily Dudley, who had also heard the alarm, started scratching at his bedroom door. Luke opened his eyes again and forced himself to sit up. He was determined not to stay late at school today. He had plans to watch Unacknowledged with Joe on Janet’s computer while Janet was at Judo. Janet only went to Judo on Tuesdays and by next Tuesday Joe’s free trial of Netflix would have expired. It had to be today. Luke had to be on time.

He dragged himself out of bed feeling very hard done by. It was true that he often missed the bus but he was rarely late for school. There was usually some friend of Mum’s, or some mum of a friend, who took pity on him and offered him a lift as he hurried on foot lugging his heavy book bag. So on average he wasn’t late to school more than twice a week.

By the time the rest of the family came down to breakfast, he was rinsing his cereal bowl in the sink.

“My goodness,” said Dad, looking out the kitchen window.

“What?” asked Luke, “what are you lookin’ at?”

“The flying pigs,” said Dad.

“Oh ha ha,” said Luke sarcastically, “you’re so funny!”

“Groan,” said Jared, “that’s such a dad joke.”

Mum walked in and headed straight for the pantry. “Who wants toast?”

“Me!”

“Sorry Jared, what was that?”

“Me please.”

“Oh, and me, thanks love,” said Dad.

“Okay. Luke? Toast?”

“No thanks,” he said, turning to leave the kitchen, “I’ve finished my breakfast.”

“Well,” said Mum, pausing absorb the moment, “I never thought I’d see the day! My youngest son, all dressed and breakfasted before seven. What’s the special occasion?”

“Nothing,” said Luke, “just wanted to walk to school.”

Mum nodded slowly. “Or, … you could walk Dudley before school for me and then catch the bus as usual. I’ve got a lot on today,” she appealed with a smile, putting her hands together as if in prayer.

Luke tilted his head back and looked blankly at the ceiling. “Alright,” he said begrudgingly, “I’ll catch the bus, as usual!”

************************************************

Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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Wait a minute

Sherman and Geynes episode 3 continues:

S&G3 p13 reducedS&G3 p14 reducedS&G3 p15 reduced

Come back tomorrow for the end of the story!

Can’t wait? Click here to read the whole story now.

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Ta da! Is this the book you’re looking for?

Sherman & Geynes episode 3 continues:

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Story continues on Monday 😉

Or if you can’t wait, click here to read the whole story right now.

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Finders keepers

Sherman & Geynes episode 3 continues:

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Story continues on Monday 😉

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********************************************

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Do you have any theories?

Sherman & Geynes episode 3 continues:

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Story continues on Monday 😀

Or if you can’t wait, click here to read the whole story right now.

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We’ll retrace her steps and look for clues

Sherman & Geynes episode 3 continues:

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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The mystery of the missing book

Sherman and Geynes #3 starts today

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Find out what happens next tomorrow 😀

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Are they railway bandits?

Sherman and Geynes episode 2 continues:

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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Wild speculation

Sherman & Geynes episode 2 continues:

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Story continues on Monday 😀

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Cunning criminal masterminds

Sherman & Geynes episode 2 continues:

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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Listening to the mouse in the wall

I lay in bed listening

To the mouse in the wall.

He doesn’t know I’m here,

I think I’ll call him Paul.

****

He always comes at bedtime

To find his winter stash.

He must be very hungry,

Scratch and scrape and bang and bash.

It sounds just like marbles

That he rolls above my head,

But I think it must be nuts,

They sound loud when I’m in bed.

****

I’m glad Paul won’t go hungry,

He works hard for every bite,

But I wish he’d work the day shift

So I could sleep at night.

 

 

The Christmas Market

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 15, the denouement :

At ten forty-five on Tuesday morning, Luke and Joe climbed aboard the school minibus and grabbed two of the back seats.  Tania and Isabel grabbed the other two.

“This should be good,” said Isabel.

“Yeah, I need to get something for my mum and something for my grandad,” Tania replied.

“Is that all?” Isabel was impressed, “I’ve still got to do all mine.”

The engine started.

“Okay everybody,” Thomas shouted from the front, “seatbelts on.  Off we go!”

Luke and Joe pulled their lunch boxes out of their bags.  Isabel laughed.

“We’ll be there in ten minutes,” she said, “you shouldn’t spoil your appetites – I bet there’ll be some delicious Christmas food at the market.”

“Nah, we’d rather eat now,”  said Luke as he bit into his blueberry muffin.

Tania looked over at their lunches and it reminded her of something she’d been meaning to tell them.

“Thomas is a veggie.”

“Is he?” said Joe.

“I think so.  I saw Mrs Tebbut offer him one of her homemade mince pies yesterday and he asked if they had vegetable suet in them.  She said she wasn’t sure so he said no thank you.”

“He’s cool,” said Luke approvingly.

“Yeah,” Joe agreed, “it’s good he works in our class and dint stay with Ms Robinson.”

***

The Christmas market was really crowded.  It stretched the whole length of Fish Street which had been closed to traffic.  Mr Beardsley told everyone to make sure they were always in sight of himself or Thomas.  They were not to go off anywhere by themselves.

There was a Christmas tree at the car park end of the street, huge and covered in twinkling white lights.  Next to it the Salvation Army band played Christmas carols and the whole atmosphere was happy and festive.  The first stall sold reindeer food at a pound a bag, for anyone who wanted to leave a treat for Santa’s friends on Christmas Eve.

At the second stall, if you weren’t short of cash, you could buy a hand-calved Buddha.

The third stall looked more fun – they were selling robots playing snooker.  Luke thought he wanted one but forgot about it as soon as he saw the bird whistles on the next stall.  He’d always wanted to be able to communicate with birds.

The fifth stall sold snake-length marshmallows; the sixth sold Turkish Delight; the seventh had models of owls and elephants in jars; the eighth sold rock crystal lamps; the ninth had reindeer-shaped planters. Before long the market lost its charm for two boys with no money.

“Let’s go over there,” Luke suggested, pointing to an empty bandstand on the lawn behind the stalls.

“Mr Beardsley said we’re s’posed to stay in sight,” said Joe.

“We will be,” Luke assured him, “we’ll be able to see everybody from up there.”

The boys squeezed between the chocolate scissors stall and the cannabis incense stall and climbed onto the raised platform of the bandstand.  They sat comfortably with their feet dangling and tucked into their sandwiches while they watched the merry throng.

“This is good,” said Luke smiling, “I don’t mind shoppin’ if I don’t have to actually shop.”

By the time they’d finished their lunches their classmates were out of sight and Joe felt they should try to catch up.  Luke disagreed.

“No, we might get lost.  We should wait coz they’ll have to come back this way.  Look, I can see the minibus from here.”

“That’s not our minibus.  Ours doesn’t have a green stripe down the side.”

“Doesn’t it?” said Luke, a little thrown.  “Oh, well, they’ll still have to come back this way.  I think we should wait.”

They only had to wait for another quarter of an hour before they saw a couple of familiar faces.  Tania and Isabel were hurrying across the lawn towards them.

“There you are!” said Isabel, gasping for breath.

“Luke! – You’ve got to come!  They’re selling reindeer skins!” said Tania.

“And reindeer burgers!”

Luke and Joe, crestfallen, climbed down from the bandstand and followed the girls to the far end of Fish Street, where all the food stalls were. Luke was sad but not surprised to see what looked like hundreds of people eager to indulge in deep fried flesh foods, jostling to hold their positions in the queues.

“Say something!” Tania implored.

“What d’you want me to say?” Luke asked.

“Tell them they’re despicable to kill reindeer!  Tell them it’s sick to sell reindeer burgers at Christmas!”

In addition to the stalls selling reindeer, there was one selling inferno cheddar (cheese laced with chillies); another was selling turkey sausages spiced with chilli and paprika; another was using a cute-looking model pig to sell pork scratchings.

“You can tell ’em that if you want,” Luke said, loud enough to be heard by anyone who wanted to listen, “an’ I agree with you, but it won’t do any good.  Not while there’s so many stupid people who want to buy this stuff.”

“Who’s stupid?” said a large man in the spicy sausage queue.

“You lot,” said Luke unapologetically, “all you lot in these queues.”

“Is that right?” he said slowly, turning to face Luke with eyes narrowed.

Tania and Isabel blushed and took a step back.  Joe looked at his feet.  Luke didn’t move.

“Yeah,” said Luke, “Don’t you think it’s stupid to pay for somethin’ what’s killin’ the planet?”

A few more people turned to listen.  Luke went on.

“Well, I call it stupid coz animal farmin’ kills the sea and the rainforests and makes more greenhouse gases than cars an’ planes an’ all transport put together!”

“Says who?” asked the man sceptically.

“Said the United Nations.  Over ten years ago.”  He paused briefly to let them absorb it before concluding.  “Yeah, it’s pretty stupid to spend your money on killin’ the planet you live on.  You’re killin’ yourselves.  An’ your children.  An’ your children’s children.”

Luke was surprised and disappointed to get almost no reaction to his shocking revelation, but he didn’t give up.  He had more.

“An’ I should say it’s pretty stupid to let people starve coz you paid for their food to be given to seventy billion farm animals, just so you can eat meat an’ cheese.  Yeah, anyone who pays for that is pretty stupid alright.  And selfish.”

The large man laughed stupidly.

“But it tastes so good!” he scoffed and turned back to wait for his sausage.

In the silence before the conversational hubbub rose again, three or four people walked away from the food stalls.  Luke turned back to Tania and Isabel.

“See, there’s no point tellin’ people they’re horrible for sellin’ horrible things.  They don’t care.  They’ll sell anythin’ if people’ll pay ’em for it.  It’s the people what pay for it who make it happen.  If they didn’t buy it, no one would sell it.”

The girls nodded.  Isabel looked guiltily at the half-eaten bag of pork scratchings in her hand and quickly tossed it in the bin.  All four children walked back to the bandstand to look out for the rest of their class returning to the minibus.  When they were back in their seats on the bus, Tania made a declaration.

“I’m going to make an early new year’s resolution,” she paused for effect before announcing, “I’m going vegan!”

“Me too,” said Isabel, smiling.

Luke looked wonderingly at Joe.  Joe nodded.

“D’you want to join our secret society?” they asked.

  • Good Spirit, your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life! I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

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Christmas is just around the corner, for Luke as well.  Join us tomorrow for the beginning of a Christmassy final chapter of the second Luke Walker book 😀

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Everything was tidy except Mr Beardsley’s desk

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Chapter 15 continues from yesterday:

The chairs were turned upside down on the desks; the bins were empty and the paint pots were washed up and stacked on the draining board.  Everything except Mr Beardsley’s desk was swept and dusted and tidy.

Mr Beardsley’s desk was always a mess – he said it was the only way he knew where to find anything.  Luke decided to see if there was anything worth finding.  There were post-it notes, pencils, pens, two coffee mugs, a pencil sharpener, a stopwatch, a calculator – a calculator?!

“One rule for them, another rule for us!” thought Luke.

There were two piles of exercise books – blue maths ones and yellow history ones.  Luke sought out his own for a sneak preview of his grades.

“He hasn’t even marked ’em yet!” he grumbled, exasperated, “what’s the point of makin’ us hand ’em in on Friday if you’re not gonna mark ’em ’til next week?!”

There was nothing else of interest on top of the desk so Luke tried the drawer.  It was unlocked.

“Aha!”  He lifted out a large hardback diary, “let’s see what you’re gonna make us do next week.”

He dropped the dog-eared book onto the desk and opened it to the first week of December.

Monday was left blank so Luke, cleverly imitating Mr Beardsley’s handwriting, wrote:

On the Tuesday page was a barely legible scribble which seemed promising:

The Wednesday page foretold a spelling test and a fire drill.

The Thursday page confirmed what Luke already knew: there would be a full dress rehearsal of the Christmas concert in front of the rest of the school and the senior citizens from the village. He smiled, knowing that meant no lessons.

The Friday page contained a still more glorious statement:

  • “Yo ho there! Ebenezer!”

Luke flinched at Kenny’s very loud portrayal of Fezziwig and knocked over one of the mugs which was still a quarter full of cold coffee. Thankfully, his reflexes were second to none and in slamming the diary shut he ensured the rest of the desk stayed more or less dry. He carefully placed the book back where he’d found it and rejoined his fellow Thespians.

***

“Will you check on Curly ‘n’ Squirt for me after school?” Luke asked Joe on Monday afternoon as the credits rolled at the end of Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

“Yeah, why? Another rehearsal?”

“Yeah. I’ll be glad when it’s over an’ done with.”

“Not long now.”

“Thank goodness!” said Luke with relief, “I think it was a mean trick them tellin’ us we can be in the play without tellin’ us we wunt be doin’ the practices in lesson time.”

“It was,” Joe agreed, having had to give up a lot of his own free time to paint the scenery.

Mr Beardsley switched on the lights and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.

“Wakey wakey everybody, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. It’s nearly half past three, so let me just remind you to bring your Christmas shopping money tomorrow. Full school uniform is compulsory – we don’t want to lose anybody.”

The bell rang loud and long, precipitating a riot of excited voices and chair legs scraping the floor.

“Exit quietly please,” he requested, “see you tomorrow.”

“I haven’t got any money,” said Joe to Luke confidentially.

“Me neither,” Luke replied, “but that doesn’t matter. It’ll still be good to get out of school for a few hours.”

Luke and Joe went their separate ways.

“See ya.”

“See ya.”

***

Luke made himself comfortable in the middle of the row of chairs at the back of the hall. He put his bag on the chair to his left, his coat on the chair to his right and his feet on the chair in front of him. He took out his reading book and his notebook, popped his gobstopper back in his mouth and, keeping one ear open for the approach of his cue, read.

  • “Your reclamation, then. Take heed! Rise and walk with me!”

After reading page 71 he wrote:

After reading page 78 he wrote:

After re-reading page 69 he wrote:

  • “Remove me! I cannot bear it!”

  • “I told you these were the shadows of the things that have been. That they are what they are do not blame me!”

After reading page 80 he wrote:

  • “… but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Luke swiftly returned his books and his gobstopper to his bag and hurried to stage left. It was time for the Third Spirit.

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See you Monday for the next instalment 😉

But if you don’t want to wait, you can read the whole of chapter 15 now 😀

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Luke, it’s your line!

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 🙂

Are you sitting comfortably? 

Then we will begin chapter 15: Luke Walker and the school play

  • “I am here today …”

“Tonight.”

  • “I am here tonight to warn you, that you ‘ave yet a chance and hope of escapin’ my fate. A chance and hope of my procturin’, Ebenezer.”

“of my procuring.”

  • “Of my procurin’ Ebenezer.”

  • “You were always a good friend to me, thank’ee!”

  • “You will be haunted by three spirits.”

  • “Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?”

  • “It is.”

  • “I—I think I’d rather not.”

  • “Without the visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One.”

  • “Couldn’t I take ’em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?”

“Don’t move that, it’s mine!”

“Luke! It’s your line.”

  • “Expect the second on the next night… hey! Leave it I said!”

“Luke!”

“That’s my bag!”

“She’s only putting it in the cloakroom, it’s in the way out here, someone might trip over it.”

“Oh.”

“Can we please finish this scene! Go from ‘Couldn’t I take ’em all at once’.”

Butler pulled a face at Luke who reciprocated.

  • “Couldn’t I take ’em all at once and have it over Jacob?”

  • “Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!”

Ms Robinson breathed a sigh of relief.

“Okay, that’ll do. Well done for getting the lines memorised both of you, but try to put a bit more feeling into it. Simon, remember you’re really scared, and Luke, don’t forget to rattle your chains and try to make your voice sound more ominous.”

Simon laughed.

“I don’t think Luke knows what ominous means,” he said with a smirk.

“Yes I do!” Luke replied indignantly.

Ms Robinson elaborated.

“Try to sound menacing, sinister. Make your voice deeper if you can.”

“I knew what you meant!” Luke lied, flashing Butler his most withering scowl.

“Okay Luke, take a break,” said Ms Robinson, “Simon, get in position for scene 3.  First Spirit – where are you?”

Luke went to the cloakroom to find his bag. He didn’t trust anyone else with it – there was important stuff inside. He was relieved to find it safe on his peg, looking as though it hadn’t been tampered with. He confirmed this with the retrieval and measurement of his gobstopper – it was the same size it had been an hour and a half earlier when he’d put it in the zip pocket. He put the large sweet back into his mouth, took an orange plastic chair from the stack in the corner, and sat down to read his book. It wasn’t really his book, he’d borrowed it from the library, but it was so good that he thought he’d get his own copy if he got any book tokens for Christmas. The funny thing was, if Mr Beardsley hadn’t given them the book report assignment, he might never have picked it up. Its cover, a boring photograph of a corn field with a mountain behind it, would not normally have caught his attention, but its title – The Sustainability Secret – was intriguing. The word ‘secret’ had made him think of spies, secret agents, action and adventure, so he’d put the book on his ‘maybe’ pile and checked it out. He checked out seven books that day and after first trying and giving up on the other six, he decided, unequivocally, that The Sustainability Secret would be the subject of his book report. It turned out not to be about spies or secret agents but it was engrossing. He read it, and re-read it, every chance he got. Even when he was supposed to be watching rehearsals.

Participation in the school play had annoyingly failed to get him out of lessons because rehearsals were scheduled for after school and at weekends. On top of that Luke had had to spend an enormous amount of his free time learning his lines. Well, not an enormous amount, but some. As it turned out Luke was very good at memorising lines. Not only his own but those of everyone else in the scene. This was a very valuable skill to have and he determined to put it to more productive use in future. For example, there were lots of important facts in The Sustainability Secret that he wanted to commit to memory. A lot of it was scientific stuff which was harder to memorise but he wrote things down, over and over, until they stuck.

After reading page ten he wrote in his secret society notebook:

After reading page eleven he wrote:

  • “Good Heaven! I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!”

Butler’s voice could really carry.

Finding it difficult to concentrate, Luke closed his book and put it away.

“If they’ve on’y jus’ got to ‘I was a boy here’ it’s gonna be ages ’til I’m on again.”

He considered popping out to see Curly and Squirt but since time passed quicker when not at school he knew it was too risky. If he missed his cue again everyone would moan at him. He decided instead to hang out in the classroom. Pupils weren’t really allowed in the classrooms without adult supervision, not since the “mindless vandalism” of class 6, but Luke felt that since he wasn’t a mindless vandal, the rule didn’t apply to him.

*************************************

Story continues tomorrow 😀

Enjoy your weekend 😀

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Easy for seasoned outlaws

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

A noisy, activity-filled party with only two adults in attendance was easy to sneak away from.  It hadn’t even been difficult to get the matches from Mr Beardsley’s desk drawer.  Fortunately there had been no rain for a couple of weeks so it didn’t take long to find ample dry twigs and fir cones in the churchyard over the road.  Now all they needed was a big stone each and that would be no problem either because Luke remembered seeing some different coloured pebbles, curiously arranged in the shape of a fish, close to the church entrance.  They’d just been left there.  No one was using them.

It was just after nine o’clock and very dark in the churchyard.  Two owls hooted back and forth.  Every so often bats flew overhead between the bell tower and the vicarage.  Now it really felt like Halloween.  The children made themselves comfortable on the ground near the oldest gravestones they could find.  Covered in lichen, the writing on them was almost illegible.

Making sure there was nothing flammable nearby, Luke built a small fire with the twigs and fir cones on the crumbling horizontal stone base of one of the graves.  He had no trouble getting it going with the few scraps of paper found in Mr Beardsley’s desk drawer earlier.

As their teacher had told them, the game was simple.  On Halloween night, participants made a fire and when the fire burnt out they placed a ring of stones in the ashes, one for each person.  The following morning they would check the circle and if they found any stone displaced, it was said that the person it represented would die before the year ended.

Luke drew a circle in the ash with another stick.  Their pebbles were easy to distinguish from each other.  Luke’s was the biggest and the darkest.  He put it in the twelve o’clock position, closest to the gravestone.  Joe’s was a little smaller and had a notch on one side.  He placed it at nine o’clock.  Isabel’s looked like it had a nose, hers was placed at six o’clock and Tania’s, the smallest of them all, was placed at three o’clock.

“What was that?” Isabel turned suddenly to look behind her.

“Just a rabbit prob’ly,” said Luke, “or a badger.”

“Or a fox,” added Joe.

The boys looked around eagerly, hoping to see some majestic nocturnal wildlife.  They weren’t so lucky.

“We’d better get back,” said Tania, looking at her watch, “it’s nearly five to ten.”

“Wait!” whispered Luke as he ducked behind a tree, “that’s my dad!”

The churchyard was a short-cut between the school and Luke’s road so he might have known his dad would come this way to meet him.  Everyone laid low until he’d passed.

“My mum’s probably at the school by now too,” said Tania.

“They’ll all be there, waiting outside the classroom for us,” said Isabel anxiously, “how will we get back in without them seeing us?”

Luke and Joe smiled at each other.  For seasoned outlaws like them, this wasn’t going to be a problem.

“Follow us,” said Joe, and they led the girls to a little known entrance to the school which was always left open when the caretaker was around so that he could duck out quickly for a smoke without going past the kitchens or the offices.  The door led to the school hall which had a connecting door to Mrs Tebbut’s classroom which shared a cloakroom with Class 5A.

“Don’t tell anyone about this,” Joe added as an afterthought.

Without raising suspicion all four of them rejoined the rest of their class as they emerged from the party. They parted with a secret promise to meet early Saturday morning and check on the fire circle.  Each agreed to wait until they were all together before they looked.

When all children had been collected Mr Beardsley and Thomas returned to the classroom to clear up the mess.  They were tired but it had been fun; they were glad they’d done it.

“Excuse me,” Mrs Butler put her head round the door.

“Oh, hello,” said Mr Beardsley, “are you looking for your plate?  It’s in a stack in the sink.  I’ll wash it up and send it home with Simon on Monday.”

“Er, thank you, no, I’m looking for Simon.  Did he leave with someone else?”

Mr Beardsley’s jaw dropped.  Filled with dread he looked at Thomas.  Thomas shook his head.  At that moment the classroom door opened again and Simon walked in.

“Simon!  Where have you been?” his mum asked, awash with relief.

“Looking for you,” he lied, “shall we go?”

********************************************************

Chapter 15 starts tomorrow 😉

***************

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They’re not Halloween!

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

“Hey!  They can’t have them on Halloween!  Who brought them?” he asked, pointing with disgust at the flesh food and surveying the faces around the table.

“What’s wrong?” asked Isabel.

Luke didn’t hear her.  He angrily snatched the plate from the buffet, intending to dispose of the offending items.

“Mr Beardsley said it’s a Halloween tradition to be vegetarian,” Joe explained to Isabel, “so Luke is cross that somebody’s not doin’ it right.”

“So I see,” said Isabel as she watched Luke trying to move through the crowd holding the large plate of Scotch eggs above his head with both hands.

“Hey!  Where you going with those?”  Butler asked as Luke passed the music centre on his way to the toilets.

“Gettin’ rid of ’em!” said Luke, “they’re not Halloween.”

“Hey! Bring them back!  My mum made them!  Bring them back!”

Luke hurried through the cloakroom door with Butler close behind him.  The music stopped and everyone could hear the two boys arguing loudly on the other side of the door.

Mr Beardsley hurried after them.

“Don’t come any nearer or I’ll drop ’em,” Luke threatened, forcing Butler to back off.

“You’ve got no right to throw away other people’s stuff!” he shouted angrily, “you think you’re better than everybody else!  You think you’re so good but you’re not – you’re a thief!  Give them back!”

“It’s no meat for Halloween!” Luke asserted, “dint your teacher tell you that?!”

“We don’t have to do what you say!  Some of us want to eat meat – most of us actually – coz it tastes good!  Mmm, I’d love a nice bacon buttie right now, or a nice bit of fish and chips, or a big juicy burger.”

His infuriating smirk pushed Luke to the limit and he lunged for the toilet door.

“Stop!”  The boom of Mr Beardsley’s voice did not encourage disobedience.

Luke froze, plate in hand, his back to his teacher and his adversary.

“Could someone please tell me what on Earth is going on here?”  Mr Beardsley asked more calmly.

Both boys talked at once: “He’s throwing my mum’s food in the toilet” / “Meat’s not allowed on Halloween!”

“Stop!”  their teacher said again, “Luke, what are you doing out here with that plate of Scotch eggs?”

“They shouldn’t be here!  You said people dint eat meat on Halloween!  It’s tradition!”

“Yes, that’s true, I did, it is traditional not to eat meat on All Hallows’ Eve.”

“But my mum made them!  He’s got no right to throw them away!”

“Simon!” Mr Beardsley quieted him, “no one’s going to throw away your mother’s food.  Go back in to the party please and get the music going again.”

Simon reluctantly did as he was told and Mr Beardsley turned back to Luke.

“Give me the plate please,”  he instructed.

“But they’re not …”

“Luke, now please.”

Luke handed him the plate.

“But you’re not gonna put ’em back on the table are you?   They’re not s’posed to be …”

“Luke, I know you feel strongly about this and I respect that but you can’t force your beliefs on other people.  Everyone has to be free to make their own choices.”

“Yeah right!  Tell that to the chickens and pigs they’re made out of!  If they’d had free choice they would’ve said NO THANK  YOU  VERY  MUCH, I DON’T WANT TO BE A SCOTCH EGG!”

“Yes, alright Luke you’ve made your point.  Now kindly return to the party and stay away from Simon Butler.”

Back in the classroom Luke found his plate and his friends and told them the whole story.

“You’re right,” said Tania, “Simon knew he was supposed to make something from the traditional vegetarian recipes Mr Beardsley gave us.  He should’ve been reprimanded for not doing it right.”

“Typical!” added Isabel, “look at that, Beardsley’s just putting the scotch eggs back on the table.  That flies in the face of everything he taught us!  What’s the point of teaching us about historical tradition and saying you want to have a traditional party if you’re just going to let people be inauthentic?”

“Yeah!  It’s fraudulent!”  Tania concurred.

Luke hungrily polished off his sweetcorn while he listened to the impressive but unfamiliar vocabulary being employed by the girls and was in no doubt that they agreed with him.

“I think we should boycott this party!”  Isabel declared.

“Whaddaya mean?” asked Joe.

“On the grounds that it’s a sham.”

“What?” said Luke and Joe at the same time.

“She means it’s bogus,” Tania explained, “spurious, phoney, false, fake.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s fake alright,” said Luke, catching up, “he’s ruined it.  It’s not thentick at all now!”

“If we want a truly educational, authentic, realistic, traditional Halloween experience, we’ll have to do it ourselves,” Isabel went on, “we should go now and play the other game he told us about.  The one he said we couldn’t play.”

The others gasped and then grinned.

“That’s ezzactly what we should do,” said Luke.

*************************

story concludes tomorrow 🙂

but if you can’t wait you can read the whole of Chapter 14 now 😉

*********************************

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Changing the subject

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

Luke decided to change the subject.

“Where shall we put these then?” he asked.

“Not here,” said Mr Beardsley, “or they might get eaten.  Put them on my desk behind the screen.”

The boys did as they were told and made their way through small huddles of various royalty, warriors and poets, a couple of Shakespeares and a Jesus.  No sooner had they placed the food on the desk than Mr Beardsley asked Joe to give him the treacle scones and string so that he could set up the game.  They would be starting in about ten minutes he told them.  Music was already playing and a few people danced self-consciously in the middle of the room.

“This one’s for you Joe,” came a familiar voice through the speaker when the record changed.

Luke and Joe looked around to see Simon Butler behind a turntable across the room, dressed in a short blonde beard; a gold fitted jacket zipped up to his neck; short gold trousers fastened below the knee; long socks and large-buckled shoes.  He thought he was so cool because Mr Beardsley had let him be the DJ.  The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum by Fun Boy Three filled the room and Butler laughed excessively at his own joke.  Luke and Joe paid him a visit.

“So glad you took my advice Joe,” he said privately, “you look even more like a loon than usual!”

“I’m Pythagoras,” said Joe, holding up the right-angled triangle he’d made out of three rulers.

“Oh, yeah, I know you think so, lunatics often think they’re somebody famous,” he chuckled smugly.

“I’m not a lunatic! I am Pythag…”

“What are you s’posed to be anyway?” Luke interrupted their pointless argument to draw attention to Butler’s ridiculous ensemble.

“Sir Walter Raleigh,” Butler confessed without shame.

Luke cast his best contemptuous glance at his arch enemy and said nothing.

“Okay, switch the music off now Simon, it’s time for the games to begin,” Mr Beardsley called across the room.

Mr Beardsley and Thomas had put out four small tables at intervals around the room.  They were set up with different traditional Halloween games.

“Take it in turns to play the games at each table,” Blackbeard instructed, “have fun!”  He was the kind of teacher who didn’t believe in too much control.  He liked to give the children enough room to find their own way and, since he’d already explained the games in class, he chose not to recap.  “You can put the music back on now Simon,” he added.

“This table is for apple bobbing,” said Thomas who, unlike his colleague, preferred to make sure things were being done properly.  “One at a time.  Katia – you go first.”

Luke and Joe decided to come back later for apples and wandered over to see what was on the next table.  Joe’s treacle-covered scones, with long lengths of string tied to them, were suspended above the table and dangled at different heights.  Queen Elizabeth I and Boudicca were already tucking in.  With hands held behind their backs, Tania and Isabel tried to bite the scones and every time they got a nibble, the sticky pendulums swung away and then back, bumping their noses, their chins, their cheeks and their hair.  Boudicca, being less concerned about her appearance than the Queen, finished her scone first and bowed her grinning, sticky head in gratitude for the applause of her peers.  Queen Liz, dignified in defeat, shook her opponent’s hand and went to the sink to wash her face.

“Us next!” said Luke, standing beside the table and leaning forward.  “Go!” he shouted before Joe was ready, and tried to grab an untouched scone in his teeth.

Joe hurried to join in but found himself at a disadvantage when one scone stuck to his thick beard, just below his bottom lip, and prevented him from getting close to any other.  Thomas laughed and reminded Joe that he couldn’t use his hands but he needn’t have said anything because Joe was not a cheater.  Luke was the clear victor, finishing his scone in just four bites, and afterwards Joe was allowed to manually detach his scone from his beard and eat it normally.  There were less hairs on it than one might expect.

At the next table were small plates with chunks of barm brack on them, cut from the fruit breads that Luke and a couple of other people had made.

“I’ve got a coin!” said Isabel as she broke up her piece with a fork, “that means I’m going to be rich!”

“I think you’re s’posed to just bite it,” said Joe, “it might not work if you pull it apart like that.”

“I don’t wanna risk choking!” Isabel explained sensibly.

“Plus it’s dirty,” added Tania, “money’s really dirty you know.  Just think how many people have touched it without washing their hands.”

Joe had already bitten into his chunk of barmbrack and discovered that he too had a coin.  He spat it quickly into his hand.

“It’s not dirty,” Luke assured him, “don’t ya think I washed ’em before I put ’em in?”

“Is this the one that you made?” Joe asked, a little relieved.

“Yeah,” said Luke confidently, “well, it looks …, yeah, definitely.”

Luke bit into his piece of bread and found only currants and orange peel.

At the next table were three large dishes of colcannon, accompanied by a stack of small bowls and spoons.  The game was the same.  If you found a coin it meant you would be rich; if you found a ring it meant you would find true love.  Luke hadn’t had any rings to put into his baking, and he’d put all his spare coins into his barm brack, so he loaded his bowl from the colcannon he’d made himself, knowing that the only thing he was in danger of finding was a pile of delicious grub.  Thoughtful as always, he didn’t spoil the game for the others by telling them that.

A few minutes later, Luke, Joe, Tania and Isabel, all happy in spite of finding nothing but cabbage in their mash, found their newly stimulated appetites craved more and made their way to the long table.  It was a good job they hadn’t left it any longer as many of the other children were already digging in and the good stuff was going fast.  Luke took a large paper plate from the pile and filled it with roasted sweetcorn, monkey nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, bonfire toffee and … oh no, Joe got the last toffee apple.

“Oh, do you want it?”  Joe offered when his hand reached it just before Luke’s.

“Nah,” said Luke, trying to sound casual, “it’s yours.”

“We’ll share it,”  Joe decided.

Luke smiled.

“Okay.”  This was a good party.

Then he noticed something bad on the table.  Something not in keeping with the celebration.  Something odious.  Something which was in shockingly bad taste: Scotch eggs.

*********************************************

story continues tomorrow 🙂

but if you can’t wait you can read the whole of Chapter 14 now 😉

*********************************

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Not Mr Darcy

To read the rest of the Luke Walker stories, click here 😀

Chapter 14 continues from yesterday:

“Not Mr Darcy!  Mr Wilberforce!” Luke insisted.  “I don’t want to look like some posh bloke from Priden Precipice!”

Mrs Walker pulled the black trousers, white ruffled shirt and long black coat from The Village Players’ costume trunk.

“William Wilberforce would have dressed like Mr Darcy Luke, these will be just the thing,” she assured him, “I’ll just give them an iron.”

“Okay,” Luke tentatively agreed, “but what about Joe?  Is there anythin’ in there that Joe can wear?”

Luke’s mum set up the board and plugged in the iron.

“Who’s he going as?” she asked.

“Depends what costumes you’ve got,” said Luke, keeping an open mind.

Mum had only recently joined the local amateur dramatics group so she wasn’t sure what costumes they’d got.  Most of them were a bit worse for wear but they were lucky to be allowed to use them.

“See for yourself,” she suggested, “have a rummage and see if anything captures your imagination.”

Luke rummaged.  Pink tights, brown tights, knickerbockers, caterpillar costume, spider costume, Cheshire Cat costume, blue dress with white pinafore.  So far not so good.  Red ball gown, green ball gown, yellow ball gown, purple tutu, red clown shoes.  Really not good.

“Rubbish!” said Luke ungratefully, “it’s all rubbish!”

Mum sighed and switched off the iron.

“Luke – don’t just throw them around like that!  You’re lucky we’ve been allowed to borrow these,” she said, exasperated.

Luke was sorry.  He just wanted to find something good for Joe to shut Butler up.  He helped Mum pick up the costumes and re-fold them.

“Sorry,” he said.

She pressed her lips tight together and looked him in the eye.

“That’s alright,” she said.  Then, just as she was about to put the folded pile back in the trunk, she noticed a couple of things Luke had missed.

“What about these?” she said.

“A nightgown and a Father Christmas beard?” said Luke, unimpressed.

“Not a nightgown, a robe,” she explained, “men used to wear these in the olden days, especially in hot countries.”

Luke’s blank expression indicated he needed another clue.

“Who’s that maths guy you like?”

Still blank.

“Vegetarian?  Triangles?”

“Pythagoras!”

“Yes!” Mum smiled, “I bet he would have worn something like this.  And he probably had a long white beard when he got old.”

“Yeah!” Now Luke was excited, “We’ll both be veggietareun people from history!  Joe can be Pythagoras and I’ll be William Wilberforce’s ghost!”

“Why not just William Wilberforce?  Why do you have to be his ghost?”

“Coz it’s a Halloween party.  Ya know: Ha-llow-een.  It’s all about ghosts and scary stuff.”  He thought his mum would have known that.

“Yes, but you’re all going as people from history.”

“Yes.”

“So they’re all dead.”

“Yeah.”  There really was nothing confusing here.

“So why doesn’t Joe go as Pythagoras’s ghost?”

“It’s supposed to be someone who’s dead.  So he’s Pythagoras.  The man.”

“Yes, I see, so why aren’t you the man?”

“I’m going to be William Wilberforce’s ghost.”

“Not man?”

“No.”

“But if you’re a ghost why isn’t Joe going to be a ghost.  Or if he’s the man, why aren’t you the man…?” She caught sight of her own reflection in the mirror and paused, wondering why she kept asking questions to which there could be no satisfactory answer.

“Can you iron this one as well please?”  her son asked, handing back the white robe, “I’m goin’ to phone Joe and tell ‘im.”

***

On Friday 31st of October at 7.08 pm, Luke and Joe said goodbye to Luke’s dad at the school gate and walked towards the classroom carrying their contributions to the party food.  Luke had followed the Halloween recipes given to him by Mr Beardsley for barm brack (a kind of fruit bread) and colcannon (mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage).  Mum had helped a bit.  Joe brought the treacle-covered scones he’d made with Janet’s assistance, using another of their teacher’s traditional recipes.  He’d also remembered the string.

Mr Beardsley’s classroom was almost unrecognisable.

Hanging from the ceiling were two large imitation crystal chandeliers, covered in cobwebs and emitting a very dim, creamy light.  Long dark-purple velvet curtains replaced the Venetian blinds that usually hung in the windows, the bottoms of which sat in folds on the floor around large pumpkins carved with grotesque gargoyle faces.

The boys approached a long table at one end of the room.  It was draped in a ragged, dark red table cloth whose dusty hem skimmed the dusty parquet.  On it fifteen white candles stood tall on three candelabra, complete with realistic-looking orange and yellow tissue paper flames and untidily littered with long drips of dry wax.  Various plates and bowls of food, brought by the children, were set upon the table.  Luke and Joe added theirs.

“No, not on there boys,” Mr Beardsley startled them, suddenly appearing as he did.  “Those are for the games, remember?”

Luke and Joe looked at their teacher and then at each other and laughed.  Mr Beardsley had really pulled out all the stops for this party.  His already lofty frame appeared even taller than usual, and his apparently-severed head rested in front of his chest, supported by his left arm.  Atop the severed head sat an enviable black hat, with wide upturned brim and a sinister-looking white skull and cross-bones on the front.

“Who are you supposed to be?” asked Luke.

“Can’t you guess?” teased his teacher, rubbing his brand new coal-black beard.

“No,” said Luke.  Joe also shook his head.

Mr Beardsley tutted.

“Boys, boys boys,” he said, shaking his head, “don’t you ever listen to my lessons?”  he asked rhetorically. “I’m Blackbeard.  Remember?  The famous pirate who was beheaded in 1718?”

“Pirate?” said Joe, looking daggers at Luke.

******************************

story continues tomorrow 🙂

but if you can’t wait you can read the whole of Chapter 14 now 😉

*********************************

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Not even pretending to listen

For all the Luke Walker chapters so far click here 😀

Here begins Chapter 14: Luke Walker and the Halloween Party

Luke, Joe, Isabel and Tania looked at the circle and gasped.  They hadn’t believed it could happen.  Now that it had, they were scared.

“That’s it then,” said Luke eventually, “I’ll prob’ly be dead by Christmas.”

***

Three days earlier everything had seemed so ordinary.  Boringly so.  Class 5A were doing History.  History was sometimes interesting, sometimes exciting and often-times boring.  This particular lesson seemed like it was going to fit into the last category.  Mr Beardsley was talking whilst writing on the board, which meant he had his back to the class, which meant very few people were even pretending to listen.

“… historians believe that many of these traditions originate from Celtic harvest festivals, but others are of the opinion that it has always been a Christian ….”

“T,” whispered Luke.

“No,” said Joe, as he drew a diagonal support on the gallows.

“F,”

“Yes,” said Joe and filled in the Fs.

“Ooh, two Fs!  Is it coffee?”

“No,” and he drew the noose.

Mr Beardsley rambled on and Luke found it disturbed his concentration.  He felt sure he was close.  There couldn’t be that many words with double F.  Then the teacher said something that caught his attention.

“… Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, which is why it was traditional to eat certain vegetarian foods on this special day.  In particular they ate apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.”

“What’s he talkin’ about?” Luke asked Joe.  Joe looked at him blankly.  Isabel Jessop tapped him on the shoulder and passed him a note which said ‘Halloween’.

Luke nodded a thank you to her.  He pushed the note across to Joe.

“Halloween is a veggietareun day!  We’d better listen coz he might want us to explain things to the others.”

Joe nodded and smiled uncomfortably.  He’d never been called upon to explain anything to anyone and the idea didn’t appeal to him.  However, realising that if any explanations were needed his friend would certainly provide them, he regained his composure.  The boys watched their teacher and listened.

All Hallows’ Eve, otherwise known as All Saints EveAllhalloween or, nowadays, just Halloween, begins the three days of Allhallowtide during which people remembered saints and martyrs and other dead people.”

“Oh my gosh!” thought Luke, “it seemed like it was gettin’ int’restin’ so we stopped playin’ an’ now it’s borin’ again!”

“… such as roasted sweetcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds, toffee apples,…”

“Toffee!  Is it toffee?”

“No,” said Joe, drawing the condemned man’s circular head.

“… and they would enjoy these foods at Halloween parties where they’d also play some fun games.”

Mr Beardsley had their attention again.

“So I thought we could have a Year 5 Halloween party.  We’ll invite class 5B and play some of these traditional games.”

A buzz of excitement filled the room.

“When?” someone shouted.

“On the 31st of October of course.  The day after tomorrow.  Friday.”

“Where?”

“Here.  At seven o’clock ’til ten.  I’ll send a note home to your parents today.”

Mr Beardsley was so disorganised.  Luke liked that about him.

“Will it be fancy dress?”

“Indeed it will, but stop shouting out and let me finish.  I’ll answer any questions you still have at the end of the lesson.”

***

Friday’s party was eagerly anticipated by everyone.  It was going to be historical.  They were going to play traditional games and eat traditional food – which they would have to make from scratch over the next couple of days.  Mr Beardsley had given them recipes to take home.  And they needed costumes.  There was a lot to do and very little time in which to do it.  Luke and Joe talked about it while they put on their coats and boots at the end of the day.

“I’m going to be a pirate,” said Joe.

“You can’t be a pirate, it’s not historical.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No, it’s made up.  Like in Peter Pan.”

“Pirates are real,” Isabel couldn’t help pointing out when she overheard their conversation.

“Not Long John Silver, or Captain Hook, or someone with a parrot on ‘is shoulder,” Luke clarified.

“What are you comin’ as then?” asked Joe.

“William Wilberforce’s ghost,” said Luke proudly.

“Ooh, good one,” said Tania as she returned to Isabel the scarf she’d borrowed.

“I’m coming as Queen Elizabeth I,” she added, shaking her auburn curls.

“Who can I be?” Isabel wondered aloud.  The girls walked away in deep discussion.  Luke and Joe were not far behind.  Joe was disappointed that he couldn’t go as a pirate.

“What can I go as then?” he asked his friend.

“Go as a lunatic from one of those old asylums,” suggested Simon Butler who’d appeared from nowhere, “then you wouldn’t need a costume!”  And he laughed so loud on his way out that Mrs Tebbut shouted ‘PIPE DOWN OUT THERE!’ from the classroom next door.

Luke scowled.

“Idiot Butler!  Not even s’posed to be in this cloakroom,” he hissed under his breath.  “Don’t worry,” he told Joe, “you’ll be somethin’ better’n ‘im!”

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Don’t go far away, the story continues tomorrow 😀

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In the Sunday School room …

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

To read the whole of Chapter 13 click here 🙂

Story continues from yesterday:

In the Sunday School room Luke was unsurprised to find quaint and colourful cardboard fishing boats stuck to a massive collage that covered a whole wall.  The boats were manned by friendly fishermen pulling up nets by hand.  The water beneath them was gleaming turquoise and filled with colourful fish who looked only too eager to swim into the welcoming nets.  A golden beach was pictured behind with market stalls where smiling fishmongers sold fish to happy villagers under a soft blue sky.  A red and white striped lighthouse kindly warned the fishermen to stay away from the rocks.  And across the sky large paper letters spelled out the words:

“Typical!” said Luke with contempt and uncharacteristic brevity.  There was no time for lengthy verbal condemnations.  They just got on with it.

Forty-six minutes later Joe was on his way home with gratitude as Luke dropped the last armful of tinned fish into the wheelie bin behind the building.  Tomorrow there’d be no Joe.  Tomorrow Luke would be on his own.  Which wasn’t a problem, because he wasn’t a coward.

***

Luke was quiet at breakfast on Sunday and Mum sympathised.

“You’re very preoccupied this morning Luke, are you worried about talking to Eric?”

“Er, kind of,” Luke admitted.

“Mm, it’s never easy to tell someone something they don’t want to hear but it’s better to be honest.”

“Yeah,” said Luke, enlivened by a slight resurgence in confidence, “it’s better if they know the truth.”

At ten to ten, Luke and his mum approached the chapel gate.  Mrs Walker wondered what was going on. People were standing around on the lawn outside and the village bobby was there, talking to the minister.

“What’s going on?” she asked Gordon.

“Vandalism,” he said, flatly, “a horrible mess.”

“Oh no!  How awful!” she said and rushed in.  Luke followed at a cautious distance.  Mabel, standing in the doorway, advised Mum not to enter.

“All our work yesterday – ruined!” she mourned, “it’s a horror show in there!”

When Mrs Walker stepped forward the first thing to strike her was the awful smell.  She shielded her nose with her hand.  Draped over the pulpit was a huge, orange, fishing net, tangled, filthy and stinking with rotten seaweed and the small fish and crustacean victims who’d been trapped and strangled by it long after the fleet had left it to drift untethered.  The communion table and the floor around it exhibited a collection of old lobster pots and traps, a mess of wire and barbed hooks, a couple of rusty knives and a matching set of hooks, pliers and other fishmonger blades that looked hardly used.

These were set off to best advantage by numerous anchovy and sardine corpses variously strewn and interwoven throughout.  The whole ensemble was liberally splattered with what looked like blood.

Eric emerged from the Sunday School room.

“There’s more in here,” he told her.

Mrs Walker had a bad feeling.

Apprehensively she followed Eric into the Sunday School room and discovered the picturesque fishing village scene was no more.  There were no fish, no happy villagers and no fishmongers; the lighthouse had fallen into the sea and the colourful fishing boats had crashed into the rocks.  Some of the paper letters had been rearranged across the sky to spell

“I told you we should have done the normal fruit and vegetable display!” Mrs Kirby chimed in authoritatively, “I said to the minister last week – people want a traditional harvest festival with fruits and vegetables and golden sheaves of wheat.  Genesis 1, verse 29: I have provided all kinds of grain and fruit for you to eat,” she quoted, “This is a message from God!”

Mabel was irritated.

“God didn’t do this!”

“Whoever did it was sent by Him!” retorted Mrs Kirby, and no one dared disagree.

***

Mrs Walker kept her anger buttoned down.  She didn’t say anything until they were well out of earshot of the other church-goers.  It would be too shameful if anyone else knew what she suspected.  Not to mention Luke might get a criminal record.  Eventually, when they were almost home, she asked coldly,

“Who do you think did it Luke?”

“I’m with Mrs Kirby,” he answered honestly, “whoever did it was sent by God.”

Have a lovely weekend 😀

Join us on Monday for the beginning of Chapter 14:

Luke Walker and the Halloween Party

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Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (the first eight chapters);

 More Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er (chapters nine to sixteen);

and Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er: my privut notebook

are available from Amazon in the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada 🙂

but if you’d prefer to mail order them through us, get in touch 😀

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Dangerous things

For all the Luke Walker chapters click here 😀

To read the whole of Chapter 13 click here 🙂

Story continues from yesterday:

At 3.47pm Luke and Joe stood in Curly and Squirt’s shed.  There was a big old wooden ottoman at the back.  Joe had never noticed it before because ordinarily Luke kept a bale of hay on top of it and the whole lot was usually covered with a tatty blue tarpaulin.  Luke started to lift the lid and then hesitated, looking over his shoulder to make sure the shed door was shut.  It was.

“This is where I keep the stuff I’ve constigated on holiday,” he told his trusted friend, confidentially.

Joe looked puzzled.  Luke put him in the picture.

“Remember me Nan and Grandad’s got a caravan at the seaside where there’s fishing boats on the beach?  Remember I told you?”

Joe nodded.

“Well,” Luke went on, “whenever we go there I look out for things on the beach wot need takin’ outer circle-ation.  Dangerous things.”

“And you constigate them?” Joe asked with the appearance of comprehension.

“Mm.  Well, some I jus’ find, abandoned.  Some I constigate from people wot are doin’ horrible things with ’em.”

Joe peered inside the trunk but wasn’t sure exactly what he was looking at.  It was a miscellaneous jumble of what looked like rubbish – bits of plastic, rope, cord, wood, wire.  All very unpleasant and dirty.  It stank.

“And now you want to move it somewhere else?”  Joe tried hard to make sense of the little Luke had told him so far.

“Yeah.  On’y it’s too much stuff for one trip with just me.  Your mum’s got one o’ them shopping trolley-bag things, and mine’s got two, an old one and a new one – I reckon we could fit all this stuff into them and move it without anyone bein’ able to see what we’ve got.  They’ll just think we’ve done the shoppin’ for our mums.”

Joe nodded.

“Okaaay.”

“And,” Luke went on, “can you get any left over paint off your dad?  Somethin’ he wun’t miss?  Somethin’ he’s finished with and wun’t mind you havin’.  Somethin’ he would rather you dint bother ‘im by askin’ for.  Somethin’ he’d be pleased you took off ‘is hands without botherin’ ‘im.  Somethin’ reddish.”

Joe wondered.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

***

Saturday was the day that Luke always helped Dad on the allotment and today, more than ever before, he was very glad of it.  It gave him the perfect excuse not to help decorate the Sunday school room for the Harvest Festival.  He remembered they were meeting at 10 o’clock and imagined that it wouldn’t take them more than an hour or two so they’d be done by lunch time.  Then the ladies on the cleaning and flowers rota were going to decorate the chapel.  Mum was one of those ladies and she got home at twenty past four.

“Put the kettle on love,” she called to her husband, “and if you look in the pantry I’ve a feeling you might find a packet of chocolate hobnobs behind the teabags.”

“Well, half a packet anyway,” Luke’s dad grinned as he nodded towards the dining table where six or seven of them adorned a small plate.  Mrs Walker dropped exhausted into a chair.

“I knew there was a reason I married you,” she smiled as he handed her a hot cup of tea and sat down with one himself.  “Thank you love,” she said, “that whole afternoon was an uphill struggle.  Mrs Kirby was complaining the whole time that she thought we should be doing the traditional Harvest Festival display of fruits and breads and stuff, and Mabel was arguing that change was good and we should embrace change and move with the times.  What’s modern about fishing I do not know!  And then every time they stopped arguing Gordon would get them going again with ‘I suppose we have to do what the committee decides, never mind what the rest of the congregation wants!’  I don’t know what was more exhausting – scrubbing the kitchen floor or listening to ….”

“Shhh,” Mr Walker interrupted, “forget about all that now, it’s done.  Drink your tea.”

“Don’t shush me!” Mum snapped.  She hated it when he did that.

“I was just saying don’t worry about it, calm down ….”  He never learned.

“I am calm!  I’m not worried, I was just telling you what happened!  I don’t like being shushed!”

“I’m with Mrs Kirby,” thought Luke as he took advantage of his parents bickering and swiped the chapel keys from Mum’s bag before heading for the front door.

“Jus’ goin’ to check on Curly and Squirt,” he called.

“Home by six!” Mum called after him.

“Six?!” he thought, grabbing the shoppers from the hall cupboard and hurrying out.

It was just after five when Joe and Luke arrived at the chapel gate.  Luckily no one was around to hear its metal hinges squeal.  They slunk across the lawn past the large wooden crucifix with the spikes on top to stop pigeons landing on it, and Luke unlocked the heavy door.

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Story concludes tomorrow, so don’t miss it 😉

Or you could read the whole story here now 😀

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Luke could hardly believe it

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To read the whole of Chapter 13 click here 🙂 

Story continues from yesterday:

“What?!”  Luke could hardly believe it.  “They’re proud of killin’ sea animals are they?  They want to show off about killin’ God’s creatures do they?  That’s very Christian – I don’t think!”

“Well, Luke,” Mum tried to calm him down, “I know you don’t like it sweetheart but Jesus ate fish didn’t he?  Some of his disciples were fishermen.”

Luke was unconvinced.

“How do we know that?  Just coz someone wrote it in a book thousands of years ago in a diff’rent language.  P’rhaps they din’t translate it right.  P’rhaps they din’t tell the truth.  Prob’ly whoever wrote it wasn’t even there at the time so they wouldn’t even know!”  He was gaining momentum.  “And, Jesus was perfect,” he went on, “so he wun’t ‘ave done somethin’ that hurt someone else on purpose.  And he told them disciples to stop bein’ fishermen din’t he?  And he wun’t ‘ave done that if he thought they were doin’ a good thing.  And Jesus said God cares about every sparrow so if he cares about every sparrow then he definitely cares about every fish and he said ‘thou shalt not kill’ so he couldn’t be clearer than that!”

Red in the face from talking so fast without taking a breath and satisfied he’d settled the point, Luke stomped out of the room.  Mrs Walker winced as the hall door slammed and Luke’s heavy footsteps pounded the stairs.  She held her breath until all was quiet and then, just as she relaxed back into scrubbing potatoes, her son’s face re-appeared around the door.

“Oh!” she gasped, “you made me jump.”

“Don’t get any fish,” he entreated, “please.”

The following morning at breakfast Luke was distracted.  He made no argument when Jared consumed the last of the frosted flakes; he didn’t defend himself when Dad told him off for knocking over the sugar bowl even though it was actually Jared who’d done it in his haste to grab the frosted flakes.  The rest of the family were too busy to notice, but Luke was not himself.  Eventually, when Jared and Dad had left for the day and Luke was left alone with Mum he told her,

“I’ve decided I don’t want to go to Sunday School any more.”

“Well I know you don’t want to go Luke, but you’re going.  It’s good for you.  I want you to learn good values, to be a good boy,” she responded firmly.

“I’ve got good values!” said Luke, indignant.  “What do you mean values?” he added.

Mum sighed.

“Oh Luke, being a Christian means being good and kind and respecting your father and mother and not stealing and not lying, things like that,” she explained, “doing as you’re told,” she added.

“And not killin’,” said Luke.

“Of course not killing Luke, that goes without saying,”

“But they’re killin’! They’re celebratin’ killin’ fish and if that’s Christian I don’t want to be it!”

“Oh Luke why do you have to get so angry over these things?  You might not want them to eat fish but they do.  People do.  People always have.  And so do bears and cats and birds, and even other fish Luke.  It’s the way of the world and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“I don’t want to go!  I’m not going!” he insisted.  Mum inhaled deeply and counted to ten.

“Fine.  But you are not going to just disappear like a coward without telling them why.  You’ve got to be grown up about it and make it clear to Eric why this sea harvest upsets you.”

Luke sulked.  He was not a coward.  He wasn’t afraid of anything.  They walked to school in silence, Luke was deep in thought.  When they entered the school gates they were almost run over by Simon Butler racing across their path on his new bike and then, when he knew he’d got their attention, he pulled a wheelie.

“He’s a bit of a show-off that one,” said Mum, amused.

Luke snorted.

“A bit?!” he scoffed, “more like a lot!  He’s a lot of a show-off.  He’s pretty much all show-off!  There’s nothing else to ‘im.  ‘cept idiot.  And creep.  He’s a idiot creep show-off!” Luke concluded decisively.

Mum chuckled.

“Boys will be boys,” she said, “he’s just making a point.  He’s just making it clear to everyone watching that he’s good at that.”

***

All morning, while Mr Beardsley was talking about the ancient Greeks, Luke was thinking about what Mum had told him to do.  He considered very carefully exactly what she’d said and by the time Dionysus had whisked Ariadne away from Theseus he was satisfied that he could do as he was told without compromising his prince pauls.  He’d need Joe’s help.

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Sounds like Luke’s got a plan 😉

Join us tomorrow to find out what it is,

or just read the whole story now 😀 

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