Ugenia Lavender, page 1
This is a work of fiction. These stories, characters, places and events are all completely made-up, imaginary and absolutely not true.
First published 2008 by Macmillan Children’s Books
This electronic edition published 2008 by Macmillan Children’s Books
a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited
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ISBN 978-0-230-73807-2 in Adobe Reader format
ISBN 978-0-230-73747-1 in Adobe Digital Editions format
ISBN 978-0-230-73808-9 in Mobipocket format
Text and illustrations copyright © Geri Halliwell 2008
Illustrations by Rian Hughes
The right of Geri Halliwell to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
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1. Ugenia Lavender:
The New Girl
2. Ugenia Lavender and
the Lovely Illness
3. Ugenia Lavender:
The Glass Licker
To Bluebell. Little girl, big imagination.
It was early Saturday morning. The sun was climbing high as it blazed down on the golden sands of the desert. A short shadow began to creep from behind the gigantic pyramid where the stone met the sky. The wind whistled and blew a blanket of sand over the monumental masterpiece.
‘Injustice! I don’t want to leave here!’ huffed Ugenia, looking around at the marketplace buzzing with people.
She rubbed her eyes and peered through the back of the dusty jeep window, taking her final glance at the gleaming pyramid as she said her goodbyes. Ugenia was leaving Egypt for good. She had spent many months there with her parents – Professor Edward Lavender, a dinosaur consultant and specialist in pretty much everything, and her mother, Pandora Lavender, who was a TV presenter and had been working on a holiday show. Ugenia’s dad had been working on an archaeological dig. In fact, he’d been working on archaeological digs for as long as Ugenia could remember. The Lavenders had actually been travelling around the world for the last eight years, which was most of Ugenia’s life. But now everything was about to change . . .
Pandora was starting a new job on Breakfast TV and Professor Lavender was going to work at a dinosaur museum in a small town called Boxmore . . . and all because Ugenia’s parents thought it was time that Ugenia lived in one place and went to a proper school.
‘Injustice! I really don’t want to leave here, Mum. I mean, who’s going to teach me now?’ said Ugenia, who’d been quite happy having her parents as her teachers.
‘You’ll have real teachers, Ugenia,’ Pandora said, smiling.
‘Double injustice!’ huffed Ugenia, feeling very grumpy, squashed amongst the trunks and cases. The jeep, which was stacked high with the Lavenders’ luggage, rumbled along the jagged road, leaving Egypt behind in a dusty trail of memories.
Ugenia hugged her luminous yellow rucksack, which had all her important things in it – a bottle top from Russia, a stone she’d found on a grave in Nepal, an elastic band she’d found on a train floor in Vienna, a brown piece of rope from Iran, a magnifying glass, a notebook for her Big News Diary, and her mother’s silver nail varnish.
Ugenia thought about all the exciting things she had managed to do and all the wonderful places she had got to explore: the ice caps, the Incas and India, Olympia, Mount Everest, Morocco and Brazil. And when she wasn’t doing that she watched her favourite action hero, Hunk Roberts, in a movie on her mother’s laptop. Hunk Roberts was very hunky, and braver than anyone, as he was always going on huge adventures and saving the world.
But now she was on her way to start a new life in England, at a place called Boxmore, which sounded very boring. Ugenia was feeling rather glum.
‘Don’t worry, you’ll like it once we get there,’ said her mother, trying to make her feel better.
‘Yes, it really is quite nice once you get used to it,’ said her father.
Yeah, but what if I don’t like ‘quite nice’? thought Ugenia, who wasn’t so sure about this at all.
Two days later, on Monday morning, 6 January, after driving through more hot, dusty deserts, colourful countries with rocky roads, then taking two boat trips, a train, and one long taxi ride up a very steep hill, Ugenia and her parents arrived, rather tired, at their new home at 13 Cromer Road. The sky was a murky grey and there was a lethargic drizzle that made everything damp and cold.
Ugenia stared out of the taxicab window at the semi-detached house with its chalky beige bricks, beige-curtained windows and beige front door with a large number thirteen on it. It had a small front garden with an old beige Mini parked on the drive.
‘I hate beige,’ muttered Ugenia as she peeled herself out from under the suitcases squashed in the taxi. ‘I hate the cold, I’m freezing and I wish I was back in Egypt.’ Ugenia was still in her explorer shorts, and she shivered as she went to follow her parents up the drive, trying to avoid the dog poo on the pavement.
Ugenia’s parents unlocked the door and Ugenia followed them in. She picked up her luminous yellow rucksack, threw it on her back and started to investigate the house . . .
Ugenia stared in dismay at the lounge with its beige carpet and floral wallpaper. The kitchen was also laid out in beige with matching beige and white cupboards, and so was the dining room with its shiny wooden table and lacy tablecloth.
Ugenia sighed dramatically and stomped up the stairs before wandering into her new bedroom. Thankfully it was a medium-sized room, but yet again a very nice shade of BEIGE . . .
Ugenia flopped on the bed and stared at the ceiling. ‘I hate my cold, beige new life,’ she said, lying quietly for a few moments as her new home became a hive of activity. Ugenia’s great-granny, Betty, who lived just around the corner, had come to help them unpack their belongings. Granny Betty was more than just a great-grandmother; she was amazing.
Things you need to know about her:
1. She was 101 years old.
2. She treated every day like Christmas.
3. She gave karate chops to anyone who annoyed her.
And if anyone could make Ugenia feel better about anything, it was Granny Betty.
The next morning, Ugenia was woken by the shrill of her alarm clock. She leaped out of bed as if she was ready to wrestle crocodiles. But then Ugenia remembered where she was, and there wasn’t the slightest chance of ever meeting a crocodile in Cromer Road.
Ugenia decided to make the best of things as she wandered into the bathroom and began brushing her teeth, giving herself a good, confidant toothpaste-advert smile in the mirror. She pulled on her most comfortable clothes – jeans, T-shirt and her big comfy boots – ran downstairs and greeted her dad (her mum had already left for work). Then she munched on some burnt toast with peanut butter before throwing on her luminous yellow rucksack. Ugenia was ready for the first day at her new school.
Ugenia got into the beige Mini and her dad drove her down Cromer Road and across Boxmore Hill Green, which was five minutes away from Boxmore Hill Junior School.
‘Oh, by the way, I haven’t managed to get you the uniform yet,’ said her dad. ‘You just have to wear a burgundy sweater, but the teacher knows you don’t have one yet.’
‘A school uniform?’ Ugenia gulped as they approached the school gates and parked the car.
Ugenia and Professor Lavender wandered into the red-brick building, down a corridor and into the school’s main office.
‘This is my daughter, Ugenia Lavender,’ said Professor Lavender to a rather round, short woman in a tweed suit, who looked a little bit like a muffin wearing too much rouge. The muffin introduced herself as Mrs Mervin Jones.
‘She’s starting school today,’ Professor Lavender went on. ‘I believe she’s expected to attend Mrs Flitt’s class.’
‘Lovely! Follow me, Ugenia,’ said Mrs Mervin Jones, who as it turned out was the school secretary.
‘OK, Ugenia, well, I’ll see you later then,’ said her dad.
‘OK, bye then,’ said Ugenia, trying to be as brave as possible, even though she was feeling rather nervous as she followed the tweed muffin down the wooden corridor towards a large blue door.
Ugenia could hear a rabble of children’s voices chuckling and chatting.
Mrs Mervin Jones knocked loudly.
‘Enter!’ said a voice.
Ugenia followed Mrs Mervin Jones through the blue door and into a room. Suddenly it all went quiet and every single silent face stared at Ugenia.
‘Hello, Ugenia . . . I’m Mrs Flitt, your new class teacher,’ said Mrs Flitt. ‘Everyone please welcome the new girl, Ugenia Lavender, to our class.’
Ugenia stared at the sea of faces, all wearing burgundy sweaters. The faces stared back at Ugenia. There were too many to make out. It just looked like one big burgundy monster with a thousand pairs of eyes staring at her. Suddenly, a screwed-up piece of paper bopped Ugenia on the head and the whole class roared with laughter.
‘Stop that at once,’ said Mrs Flitt sternly.
Ugenia wished the ground would swallow her up as she stiffened and went bright red.
‘Silence! I said that’s enough!’ shouted Mrs Flitt. ‘Ugenia, take a seat at that empty desk at the back.’
Ugenia wandered up through the class to the low whispering of her new, sniggering classmates.
‘She looks odd, doesn’t she, Sebastian?’ said one boy.
‘Weird.’ Sebastian laughed back.
‘Ooh, look at her silly boots, Liberty,’ whispered a girl called Anoushka.
‘And that hair,’ Liberty giggled.
‘Well, what do you expect?’ said a blonde-haired girl in a very sly, loud voice from the desk next to where Ugenia was about to sit. ‘I mean, come on, she is the NEW girl.’ The girl looked down her nose at Ugenia. ‘Well, hello there, Ugenia, pleased to meet you. I’m Lara. Lara Slater.’
‘Er, hello, pleased to meet you too,’ said Ugenia politely.
‘How do you know you’re pleased to meet me?’ said the girl smugly. ‘You don’t even know me yet! Ah, so you’re a know-it-all. I don’t like know-it-alls. Oh dear, the new girl is a know-it-all,’ she went on, loud enough for some of the class to hear.
‘No I’m not. I was just being polite,’ said Ugenia quickly.
‘Ah, so we have a stuck-up new girl that’s a know-it-all. Even better!’ said Lara, louder now so that almost half the class could hear.
‘I’m not stuck-up,’ replied Ugenia, trying not to let this Lara girl get to her. ‘Actually I’m very down to earth.’
‘Aha, so we have a fake, stuck-up, know-it-all new girl,’ announced Lara, very loud so the whole class could hear.
‘OK, class, pay attention,’ said Mrs Flitt, who was oblivious to any of what Lara had been saying as she had been frantically looking for her favourite chalk rubber in the stock cupboard. ‘We have a full term ahead of us that will really kick off this Saturday with the annual school jumble-sale fete, raising money for blind, disabled dogs in the local community. I want all of you to get into groups and think of different ways to raise money,’ continued Mrs Flitt.
Suddenly the class burst into chatter and gathered quickly into their groups.
Lara teamed up with Anoushka and Liberty, Chantelle with Sita and Max. Billy joined Henry and Sebastian, and the rest of the class seemed to get with everyone else, leaving Ugenia all by herself. Ugenia felt really awkward, so she lifted her desk lid up and hid, pretending to be very busy fiddling with textbooks until class was over . . .
Ugenia wandered through her lessons somewhat aimlessly for the rest of the day, talking pretty much to no one except a dinner lady when she asked for mashed potato, to a girl when she needed to know where the toilets were and then to Mrs Flitt when she wanted some paper. The only person that really spoke to her was Lara Slater, but they were only rude remarks so that didn’t really count. In fact, Lara Slater seemed to make sure no one else came near Ugenia except Lara’s two other friends, Liberty and Anoushka, who also joined in with sly, horrible comments.
At the end of the day Ugenia was relieved to get back to 13 Cromer Road, even if it was beige and boring – at least she could relax without feeling different and being made fun of.
Ugenia’s parents were still out at work, so Granny Betty was there, waiting to welcome her with a nice cup of tarberry juice and some homemade organic peanut butter and chocolate moon-sludge cookies.
‘So, Ugenia, how was it?’ asked Granny cheerfully.
‘OK, I guess,’ said Ugenia, trying not to make a big deal out of her long, dreadful day.
‘Hmm, I’m sensing it wasn’t the best start you were hoping for,’ said Granny Betty, who had a way of reading Ugenia’s mind.
‘Actually it was a disaster! I hate my life,’ said Ugenia, throwing herself on the couch and staring at the ceiling. ‘I don’t belong here, Gran. I just don’t fit in.’
‘Yes you do,’ said Granny Betty, handing her a burgundy jumper that she had knitted. ‘Things will get better, you’ll see. You’ve just got to stick it out.’
‘Thanks, Gran, but if only I was still in Egypt I wouldn’t have to face any of this. If we didn’t like somewhere we would just move on,’ sighed Ugenia sadly.
‘Ugenia, everything catches us in the end, no matter how far we run,’ explained Granny Betty, who then wandered into the garden.
‘Thanks, Gran,’ said Ugenia, trying to be grateful as she watched her gran doing wheelies on her red bike outside.
Ugenia then decided that if she couldn’t run far away back to Egypt, she could escape by watching one of her favourite Hunk Roberts movies, The Wasp-eating Killer Water-babies.
Ugenia tried not to think about having to go back to school the next day and face another round of Lara Slater and her gang of friends. Lara can’t get any worse, can she? thought Ugenia. But the very next day that’s exactly what Lara did . . .
Lara, who was captain at rounders, made sure Ugenia was the last person to be picked for the team. ‘Don’t pick that weird new girl,’ she laughed. ‘She’ll be ridiculous – can’t you tell?’
And so Ugenia sat on the bench as a substitute player with a skinny boy called Rudy as she watched the rest of the team wait to bat.
‘How come you didn’t get picked then?’ Ugenia asked the boy. ‘I can’t play. I’ve got a sick note from my mother cos I bruised my little toe,’ said Rudy.
‘How did you do that?’ asked Ugenia,
‘Oh, it was all in the name of fashion,’ beamed Rudy. ‘I was trying these amazing shoes on and I tripped.’
‘Cool,’ said Ugenia, who was just pleased to have a conversation . . .
Ugenia didn’t think that the day could get much worse, but at lunch, as she stood in line, queuing up for some shepherd’s pie, she was suddenly pelted with cold mushy peas, which splattered over her face. Ugenia felt like a stupid green soggy
‘Ha ha – the new girl looks better in green!’ called Lara Slater.
‘Injustice!’ shouted Ugenia. They were about to splat her with a second helping when she quickly marched off to the toilet.
Ugenia stared in the mirror and began to wipe the mushy green peas from her hair. She was just about to feel sorry for herself when the door swung open and a girl with long dark hair and square glasses wandered in, dripping from head to toe in the same mushy peas.
‘They got you as well, huh?’ smiled Ugenia, passing her a wet paper towel.
‘Yes, you could say I’ve been mushy-pea-ed too,’ laughed the girl shyly. ‘I got left in the firing line. Pleased to meet you, Ugenia. I’m Bronte,’ she added. ‘You know, the only reason Lara is picking on you is because she used to be the new girl in class, which made her special and interesting, but now that you’ve come along it’s spoilt things for her.’
‘Oh, right,’ said Ugenia, passing Bronte a dry paper towel. ‘Well, thanks for telling me that, Bronte, fellow green girl.’
‘That’s all right,’ said Bronte. ‘Don’t worry about Lara, the worst of it must be over. I’m sure she’ll soon get bored with picking on you and find something else for entertainment.’
But as it turned out, that wasn’t the case. That afternoon, during English, Lara Slater threw a screwed-up paper at Ugenia, who then threw it back. Ugenia somehow misfired it to land on Mrs Flitt’s desk.