Drusilla had managed to reach the A&E Department of Suttonford’s nearest
hospital. She suspected that she had badly sprained her ankle by tripping
over that wretched girl Juniper Boothroyd-Smythe’s street art installation.
It would have to have happened on the very first day of Dru’s holidays- before
she had even had time to vacate her flat and head off to her mother’s house
She was sitting very uncomfortably on the metal seating, which was obviously
meant to be indestructible, but which was the most excruciating furniture to
accommodate any injured person. There was a queue for X-rays and she had
read all the magazines, which dated from 2008.
There was a diversion as an older man entered, completely doubled up and
clutching himself in a Michael Jackson manner, without doing a Moonwalk.
Heavens to Murgatroyd! It was her father, the prep schoolmaster, Augustus
Snodbury. Relations had been cool between them since an unsuccessful family
reunion at The Longs Arms in Lower Wraxall.
She couldn’t prevent herself from hobbling over and clutching his arm.
What on earth has happened to you? she asked solicitously.
I was bowled a googly by that wretched John Boothroyd-Smythe at our final
cricket practice, he groaned. It got me in the goolies.
(Drusilla blanched. It was not an expression that was in common parlance
at St Vitus’ School for the Academically Gifted Girl. That was not to say that
its meaning was not fully understood. Indeed, English Language studies
encouraged the tracing of lexical etymology, so she fancied that she recalled
that this particular word evolved from the Hindi: a small ball or bullet.)
It was the only time that I was not wearing my Woodworm Cricket Box, he
continued. I’d packed it away as it is the start of the holidays tomorrow.
Drusilla did not know whether to feel concerned, or merely glad that this
ailing organ of generation had fulfilled its destiny many years ago, when
she had been conceived. She did not think that the accident was of any
life-shattering import now.
However, in the next few hours, once two ice packs had been applied-
actually three, as Drusilla had one applied to her foot also-they managed to
raise the emotional temperature in a positive way and applied their new-
found goodwill as a Balm of Gilead, or Mentholatum Deep-Heat salve, to
the emotional scars which had been mutually inflicted on their last meeting.
They deliberated on a plan to break the ice that had formed since Easter
between Gus and Diana, Drusilla’s mother.
By the time that they had been confirmed as Walking Wounded, but not on
Heightened Alert, nor suffering from Aggravated Mayhem, they had hit on
Plan B. They shared a taxi to St Birinus Middle School, where Bursary staff
had enough fuel for gossip to last them the duration of the holidays and to
ignite a bigger conflagration than had had to be extinguished at The Head’s
A woman going up to Snod’s room! What could be going on?