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May contain nuts, p.27

May Contain Nuts, page 27


May Contain Nuts

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  It happened very quickly. One second Ruby was on her way to the dining rooms, the next she was jumped on from behind and found her arms were pinned behind her back.

  ‘Look into the camera, new girl …’ said the fat one of the three, holding up a mobile to her face. Ruby’s eyes were screwed up as she did her best to recoil in anticipation.

  ‘Get off her!’ shouted an approaching voice that Ruby recognized. ‘Get off her!’

  Without pausing to think, Molly dashed into the melee and simply placed the palm of her hand directly in front of the camera lens.

  ‘Get out the way, you stupid-ass bitch …’ said the lead bully, whose summer at that Swiss finishing school seemed to have been a complete waste of money.

  ‘Let go of her!’

  ‘Do you want a slap an’ all?’

  ‘No,’ said Molly, which was an honest if not particularly inspired answer, but she continued to move her trembling hand to block the view of the lens. But the moment had passed and Ruby had struggled free and then both new girls made a dash for it.

  ‘Right, I’m filming you so I’ll know you next time,’ shouted the bully, pointing her video mobile at the fleeing girls. Perhaps it would have been wiser to have kept running, but something in Molly made her stop and turn to shout at the lens. ‘Why don’t you find something more worthwhile to do?’ she said. ‘Like shaving off that hideous moustache, you big fat walrus.’

  And the two sidekicks couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the expense of their ringleader, who nervously fingered her upper lip before ordering one of her mates to ‘shut it’.

  ‘Are you all right, Ruby?’ said Molly, once they were safely in the clear.

  ‘Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks.’

  ‘Yes!’ proclaimed a triumphant voice from nearby. Under the tree, the shy spotty girl with the baseball cap punched the air as discreetly as she could. I’d just wanted to be sure, but now I’d seen it for myself. Molly was going to be OK. My daughter was courageous and she was kind and it moved me nearly to tears to see her deal with this all on her own. She had stood by her friends and she could stick up for herself. She was safe and she was happy. There was nothing more I could ask. Though it also turned out that my daughter was in fact quite bright after all. Because after the bullies had wandered away, after Ruby had dashed off to tell the others what she’d said, Molly looked left and right, and then walked slowly over to the spotty girl with the baseball cap, put her arm round me and whispered, ‘Mum. Go home. I can manage.’



  This is of course a work of fiction; the schools are all invented and none of the characters portrayed are intended to represent anyone dead or alive, particularly if they have access to a good lawyer.

  To my many friends and colleagues who have chosen to educate their children in the private sector, please do not think that I condemn you out of hand. Your decisions are none of my business and your particular choices were no doubt made with your own child’s interests in mind, yer big snooty social-climbing Tory snobs. No, really, there are all sorts of schools and all sorts of children, and you have to do what you think is best for your child, and I think that monocle and top hat really suits them.

  Enormous thanks are due to Georgia Garrett, Bill Scott-Kerr, Tim Goffe, Mark Burton, my wife Jackie and my children Freddie and Lily – for whose sake I hope that this book actually sells a few copies so that I can finally afford to pack them off to some posh boarding school.

  JO’F – March 2005



  John O'Farrell, May Contain Nuts



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