…a turn of events turned inside out






Large chunks of the lawn are missing at Didsbury Girls’ Grammar School – glaring holes in the green baize which surround the school. The yellow beacon lights at the pedestrian crossing have been cruelly stolen, leaving tiny light bulbs flickering impotently. Four windows are also broken, though one of them had already been broken by a hockey ball last week in circumstances which hadn’t aroused undue suspicion.


The holly bushes drip with slashes of white paint. The thicker mass of the rhododendron bushes which run along the front of the school hide any number of sins. The giggles of giggling girls rustle through the glossy leaves and make the shadows flicker. Three teachers are also missing. It is presumed that they either went home or went to do their weekly shopping and were unavoidably detained.


Six lower-school girls climbed to near the top of a Scots Pine and refused to climb down, their blazers and shirts awry, their pink and white knickers clearly visible from the main road. In order to ensure that health and safety standards are adhered to, the road was closed off by five members of staff wearing brightly coloured clothing. Members of the public were kept at a safe distance. The girls seem intent on spending the night up the tree. They have refused all offers of mediation. They will talk to no member of the teaching staff or to their parents. It is hoped by everyone at the scene that they will at least narrowly survive this ordeal.


Bemused and undisciplined girls spent the day lounged over cars in the staff car park. They were conspicuous from the middle of period three, having blithely disregarded the bells which rang twenty minutes beforehand, the bells that had over the last eighty-seven years of the school’s history signalled the end of rec. Three of the girls were seen to have been smoking cigarettes. One girl wore garish makeup and her shirt was tugged open to reveal her cleavage.


Thick strips of bark had been cut and unwound from around the trunk of a great monkey puzzle tree in the grounds of the school; in time it will wither and die, an unwitting casualty of this reprehensible anarchy. Other callous acts had been perpetrated throughout the day. However, whether the girls intended to be callous in their actions is unknown. The bird table and bird bath were torn from their foundations and cast into the fish pond.


Girls had been refusing to run along to classes all day. They hadn’t turned up to morning assemblies or to form registration. Period one was cancelled after fifteen minutes due to a ninety percent non-attendance rate. A presentation by three charities, which represented unfortunate children throughout the developing world, had to be postponed until after rec. It was then postponed again. It has since been postponed indefinitely.


In the light of the day’s unusual happenings, because of how things were turning out throughout the day, and owing to the day’s various turns of various events, the school’s sponsored walk, planned for the day’s final two periods, was summarily cancelled. What is to be done with the money which had been raised, donations contingent upon the walk being completed by seven hundred girls, was still up in the air when this article went to press.


Text books were found to have been buried in the flower beds. Computers were crinkling and fizzing all day, as water dripped through their insides. The stale smell of burnt water filled the corridors near the computer rooms. Three bricks had been torn out of the end wall of the music building. A giant pyramid of chairs had been constructed in the back car park. Rumours abounded that a member of staff has been buried beneath it in a makeshift burial vault. Things may yet take a turn for the worst.


There have also been reports of students masturbating in the bushes, behind parked cars, beneath the demountables. Masturbating in the stock cupboards, in empty classrooms, on the roof of the old library. These reports are as yet unconfirmed. Masturbation is explicitly forbidden in the school’s rules, rules based on the tenets of the school’s original charter which dates from the early twentieth century.


The History teacher, a Mr Kilpatrick, had last been sighted leading a significant portion of the girls across the hockey pitches and through the wasteland on the other side. Mrs R P Merryweather, the school’s headmistress, led some of her trusted lieutenants in a daring pursuit. They got lost in the undergrowth and have since regrouped in the Main Hall, where an emergency assembly has since been called. Sixteen girls attended. Several hymns were sung without recourse to hymn books.


Mr Henry Bridgewater, a long standing teacher of English at the school, has been pointed an ad hoc spokesperson. He readily agreed that things had taken a turn for the worst:


“Things had been threatening to take this turn for weeks, for months. I always expected the worst. But things have turned out to be much worse than I expected. We should accept that things might get worse before they get better. But once the worst is reached, then things can only get better.”


Irate parents started to arrive at the prestigious school, demanding an explanation from Mrs R P Merryweather. None was forthcoming over and above a terse statement printed on slips of paper disavowing any knowledge, suppressing any rumours, and pleading for parents’ discretion. Whether parents will be discrete has yet to be seen, though it is likely, owing to the fact that they know nothing whatsoever. The rumour that the girls were planning an assault on the status quo had yet to be started.


It was late in the afternoon before Mrs R P Merryweather deigned to address the amassed parents and local press. She was in fighting spirit. There was to be “no turning back”, nor was this a moment to “turn the other cheek”, and though we cannot “turn back time”, we might be able, she told the crowd, to “turn a corner”. A chant of “no turning back” started at the front of the crowd, where her trusted lieutenants had been planted, and it soon caught on. However, the chant had only too soon stumbled into the terser and more easily mouthed “turn back”.


When the chanting came to an end, Mrs R P Merryweather was helped up onto the bonnet of a maroon Landover, from which she lectured the thinning crowd on the dangers of crack cocaine, paedophiles and chewing gum. Skirts as short as pelmets came in for a particularly lengthy and sharp lambasting. Shirts which hadn’t been tucked into skirts would not be tolerated. Brown shoes, the three people remaining of the crowd were told, are and always have been “not part of the proscribed uniform” and therefore on the “exhaustive list of prohibited items of dress”. Typex was also banned. As were brightly coloured headbands and two-tone tights.


As the bell for the end of the final lesson sounded, Mrs R P Merryweather dismounted from the bonnet of the Landover and returned to her office in an exultant mood. One of her lieutenants, a particularly distraught looking but buxom gym teacher, ran off into the rhododendron bushes in tears. There were few people left. Almost everyone had disappeared for the day.





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