By Pink Panther

All the usual disclaimers apply.

The story moves on, with Ryan and Ashley starting at the boys’ grammar school. Read on and enjoy! As always, feedback will be very welcome, Please send your comments to and I’ll reply as soon as I can.


It was Thursday evening; August was almost over. Peewee got up from Terry’s bed.

Remember we’ve got another party to go to on Saturday,” Terry announced.

Don’t know nothin’ about it,” Peewee protested, a note of alarm in his voice.

I told you about it on the way back from the last one,” Terry said sharply. “So don’t go letting me down. I want you round here by four o’clock.”

Peewee didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t enjoyed the last party, despite the two hundred pounds he’d earned. And it had caused him a problem. Disappearing off the estate for a couple of hours was one thing; being out of circulation for almost a whole day was completely different, made even worse when he’d needed another two days to recover. Claire had started asking questions. He’d had to spend a big chunk of the money he’d made in order to shut her up.

This time it would be even worse. The football season had started. They’d got a match on Sunday and he’d said he was available to play. Of course, he was always available. As far as anyone knew, he never went anywhere, so crying off wasn’t an option; that would lead to even more questions. On the other hand, Terry wasn’t the kind of guy you could argue with, not if you were Peewee you couldn’t. So he’d have to go; do as little as he could get away with, and try not to smoke too much weed. When he got back, he’d be able to grab a couple of hours sleep before meeting up with the team. He’d just have to hope he’d be able to play okay.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

The team lined up ready for the match to start, Peewee positioned where he always was, next to Tommy in the centre of the defence. He was desperately tired, just hoping against hope that he’d be able to get through it. The referee’s whistle sounded and the match began.

It went wrong right from the start. Peewee couldn’t concentrate; he kept getting out of position. Either he wandered too far up the pitch and wasn’t able to get back quickly enough, or he failed to move out alongside Tommy and the two full-backs, playing the opposing forwards onside. Thanks to some heroic defending by his team-mates, they held out for almost ten minutes before one more error from Peewee resulted in them giving a soft goal away.

Then there was the physical side. Peewee was usually superb in the air; he could out-jump almost anybody. But after his night at the party, he’d lost all his usual springiness; his legs felt like lead. To add to his problems, he was sore, and jumping to head the ball made it worse. After twenty minutes they were down by three goals to one. Peewee was taken off. He felt terrible. He’d let his mates down and he knew it.

The boy who replaced him was one of their new recruits. He wasn’t in the same class as Peewee; he wasn’t used to playing alongside Tommy either, but he was alert and gave it his best shot. They managed to get a goal back before half-time and added two more after the break without conceding any themselves, eventually winning by four goals to three. From the position they’d been in, getting the win was a relief, but against a team that they’d annihilated the season before, it was hardly the sort of performance they’d been looking for. They trudged back to the changing room to get ready for the journey home, Peewee walking alongside Gary, not saying a word.

You alright?” Gary asked. “You looked dreadful out there.”

Sorry,” Peewee said. “I weren’t feeling too good.”

Tommy was suspicious. When he’d arrived home after seeing Steve the previous afternoon, Kevin had already gone out, and he’d stayed out all night. He hadn’t come home till ten o’clock that morning and had gone straight to bed. Tommy was sure Peewee must have been with him, but he didn’t want to say anything with the other boys there. He’d wait till they got back; speak to Peewee on his own.

As usual, Gary’s dad dropped Peewee off at the bottom of Whitcombe Drive. Tommy got out too. The car drove away.

Last night,” Tommy demanded. “Were you with Kevin?”

Peewee didn’t answer, looking at him resentfully.

You were, weren’t you?” Tommy went on. “And look what happened; you played like a fuckin’ spaz!”

Peewee gritted his teeth. He’d got a sore arse, his legs felt like they’d got weights attached to them and there was a little man inside his head trying to hammer his way out. He knew he’s played badly; he didn’t need Tommy to tell him.

I thought I’d be okay, yeah?” he mumbled. “Sorry, I gotta get home now.”

Tommy watched him go. He’d been worried that Peewee was going to get hurt. All his worst fears were being realised.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It was Tuesday morning, twenty to ten, the last day of the school holidays. Tommy strode purposefully along Whitcombe Drive. He was going to see Peewee. Confronting his cousin on the way home from the match had been a mistake. He needed to apologise; talk to him. They’d drifted apart and it was his fault. He climbed the stairs and rang the bell.

After a minute or so, Peewee appeared at the door.

What are you doing here?” he asked, eyeing Tommy suspiciously.

I came to see you,” Tommy said quietly. “I want to say sorry for havin’ a go at you like that. Can I come in?”

Peewee shrugged. Tommy stepped inside and followed him into the lounge room.

Nothin’ much to say sorry for,” Peewee said. “I deserved it the way I played.”

Yeah, well I still shouldn’t have said it,” Tommy said. “So you okay now? I was worried about you.”

Yeah, just about,” Peewee said, grinning.

So where had you been?” Tommy asked.

Went to a party,” Peewee said.

Where?” Tommy persisted.

Fuck knows,” Peewee said, “big house in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere, yeah? It all got a bit out of hand. I thought I’d be okay, you know, but when it came to the match I was in fuckin’ bits.”

You gotta be careful, man,” Tommy cautioned.

Yeah, well there won’t be another one till the Christmas holidays,” Peewee said, “and if we’ve got a match the next day, I won’t go.”

Well just watch yourself, yeah?” Tommy insisted.

Yeah, I will,” Peewee agreed.

And if things get out of order, you gotta tell me, yeah?” Tommy went on. “I don’t want you gettin’ hurt.”

Yeah, okay,” Peewee conceded.

You might as well know,” Tommy said. “I’ve started doin’ it as well.”

Yeah?” Peewee queried.

Had to,” Tommy said. “I needed new football boots. Mum couldn’t buy me any ’cause Frank’s not workin’. So I had to do somethin’. I wasn’t going to go shopliftin’ or shit like that.”

Peewee knew that some of what Tommy had just said wasn’t true. Frank had been doing up a house that Terry had just bought. He’d seen Frank only a few days earlier and had been paid fifty quid, the same as usual. But he wasn’t going to say anything; that would have caused even more trouble.

So what did you do?” he asked.

Went up town,” Tommy said, “went to this café that Kev told me about. I met a guy in there. He was alright; so I’ve been seein’ him every Saturday.”

Kev told me about goin’ to that place,” Peewee said, “but I wouldn’t do it. I’d have got lost, man!”

Yeah, well it’s worked out alright for me,” Tommy said, grinning, “helped me get a few more things too.”

That how you got the trainers?” Peewee enquired.

Yeah,” Tommy confirmed.

They’re nice, man,” Peewee said. “Are you horny?”

Yeah, a bit,” Tommy conceded.

I fuckin’ am!” Peewee said, stroking his cock through his football shorts. “Wanna come to my room?”

Where’s your mum?” Tommy asked.

In bed,” Peewee said, smirking. “Never came in till five; she won’t be awake for hours.”

Tommy followed Peewee into his bedroom. They quickly stripped off and climbed onto the bed.

You know when you do this punter,” Peewee asked. “D’you let him go all the way?”

Yeah,” Tommy admitted.

Kev says you always make out you don’t like that,” Peewee questioned.

I don’t like them doing it,” Tommy said, “cause they don’t give a shit whether I like it or not. And there’s never any build-up; they just do it.”

So you like doin’ all the sexy stuff beforehand?” Peewee queried.

Yeah,” Tommy said, smiling.

I do too,” Peewee said. “Some of the punters are into that, but most of ’em just wanna fuck me. So d’you do all that stuff when you’re with Josh?”

Yeah,” Tommy admitted, “but don’t go telling Kevin; I don’t want him knowing.”

It’s okay,” Peewee said. “I ain’t gonna say nothin’.” He paused, eyeing Tommy carefully. “You know Mark, the guy that comes to the pool with Josh’s mate?” he asked. “I did him a few times.”

Are you serious?” Tommy asked, his jaw dropping. “So when was that?”

A few months back,” Peewee said, “when we were off school. I saw him, you know, lookin’ at us, but I couldn’t do nothin’ ’cause you and Gaz were there. So I went back the next week, managed to get him on his own, asked ’m if he was lookin’ for business. He said yeah, so we fixed up to meet.”

Tommy remembered Ryan mentioning Peewee having been at the pool without him or Gary; it finally made sense.

So is he into all the sexy stuff then?” he asked.

Yeah!” Peewee said, grinning. “He fuckin’ loves it! He’s got a wicked gaff too; right up in town.”

So why did you stop goin’ with him?” Tommy enquired.

He was a pain in the arse, man!” Peewee complained, “always tellin’ me I ought to do this, I shouldn’t do that, you know, tryin’ to get me to join the athletics club and stuff. Then he had a go at me for smokin’ a bit of weed. I didn’t need it, yeah?”

Tommy shrugged. Josh often talked about Mark, telling him how helpful and generous the man had been, to Ryan especially. Maybe Mark would be able to help him too.

I bet he’d go with you if you asked him.” Peewee suggested.

You mean when we’re at the pool?” Tommy queried.

Yeah, get him on his own,” Peewee said casually. “Just say: ‘Peewee says you might like to see me sometime’; he’ll know what you mean. I used to do him Tuesday evenings; picked me up at the leisure centre and dropped me back.”

It was an intriguing possibility; Tommy had never considered that Mark could be ‘like that’. But Steve was ‘like that’ and he was okay, wasn’t he? It was very confusing. And what about Ryan and Josh? He knew they’d been to Mark’s flat; they’d even stopped over a couple of times. So was Mark doing stuff with them? There were more questions than answers.

So d’you wanna have some fun?” Peewee asked, running his fingers along Tommy’s penis.

Yeah!” Tommy breathed, snuggling closer. He reached down, fondling Peewee’s boy-spike.

Good init?” Peewee whispered, grinning and licking his lips.

Yeah!” Tommy agreed. “Can you cum yet?”

Nah!” Peewee said, his tongue darting in and out.

Tommy closed in on Peewee’s mouth as though drawn there by a magnet. They kissed passionately, writhing around on the bed, their cocks grinding together. The kiss morphed seamlessly into a sixty-nine. It was wondrous; they fitted together perfectly. Tommy slipped his hand between Peewee’s legs, tickling his cousin’s anus and pushing inside.

You wanna fuck me?” Peewee asked breathlessly, releasing Tommy’s cock.

I ain’t got any lube,” Tommy cautioned.

Just do it, man!” Peewee urged.

They quickly disentangled themselves. Peewee got into position, his legs pulled right back. Tommy looked at his cousin’s pucker which seemed to be winking at him. He’d never thought about fucking a boy in this position, but he wasn’t going to object; it was obviously what Peewee wanted. He moved in close. With one thrust he was inside.

That’s good, man!” Peewee groaned, grinning broadly.

He reached up, pulling Tommy down on top of him, their lips meeting in another wild kiss. They fucked, they kissed, Tommy so far into it he hardly knew where he was.

Oh, fuck!” Peewee gasped., his legs flailing. “Uhhhhhh!!” he moaned, his penis swelling and pulsing against his tummy.

Tommy pressed on, fucking the boy harder than ever. In a matter of seconds his orgasm was upon him. His cock jerked into life, jet after jet of sticky cum spurting into Peewee’s rectum. For several seconds they lay as they were, their tongues gently dancing together. Finally Tommy lifted himself clear.

Man!” Peewee breathed. “That was wicked!” He lay back, still breathing heavily, a peaceful smile on his face.

I love fuckin’ Claire,” he said at last, “but I like doin’ this too. Is that weird?”

It’s what you like, init?” Tommy said, grinning. They pulled their clothes on. “Just remember,” he added, “I’m here for you if you need me.”

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

Ryan and Ashley walked through the gate of the boys’ grammar school. They were nervous but excited; it was the start of a big new adventure, with neither of them really sure what to expect. The ninety Year Seven boys, dressed in their new school uniforms, were herded into the school hall. It was the first time Ryan had ever worn a tie; he hated it. They were supervised by three masters, two of whom Ryan judged to be around Mark’s age, the other much older, probably in his fifties. They sat down.

Jacob’s here!” Ashley whispered excitedly.

Who?” Ryan queried.

Jacob Harvey, the boy who beat me in the Primary Schools’ Cross-Country. We should have a great team!”

Ryan grinned, not really getting it. Why would you want someone better than you in the same team? But what did he know; as long as Ashley was happy, it was fine.

Good morning, boys!” one of the younger men said. “My name’s Mr. Armitage. First of all, I’d like to welcome you all. As you know, in order to be here, you had to pass an extremely competitive examination, so you’ve already done very well. But the work starts here. You all have ability, but the secret of success is hard work; there are no shortcuts. If you do what is asked of you, you will have the opportunity to get yourself into a top university, which I’m sure is what most of you want.” He paused, surveying the boys in front of him. “What we are going to do now is to divide you into your forms. You will go with your form master who will explain what will be happening for the rest of the day.” He picked up a list. “We begin with Form 7-F.”

He began to read. The second name he called was Christopher Ashton, the other boy from Stainmoor. Neither Ryan’s nor Ashley’s name was included.

Right boys!” the man said. “Will those of you whose names I just called please go with Mr. Barnsley.”

Thirty boys stood up, the older master escorting them from the room.

Okay,” Mr. Armitage said. “We move onto form 7-G.”

He read another list of names. Once again, neither Ryan nor Ashley’s name was called. Another thirty boys left the room, leaving the remaining thirty with Mr. Armitage.

Well,” he said, smiling. “If we’ve got this right, those left here should comprise Form 7-H.”

He began to read a third list. “Ryan Clark,” he intoned, and a few seconds later “Ashley Holden.”

Ryan and Ashley looked at each other, grinning. They’d been placed in the same form, exactly as they’d hoped. Mr. Armitage finished reading.

Right,” he said quietly. “Is there anyone here whose name has not been called?” He looked around the room. No hands were raised. “Excellent!” he said. “That means that everyone’s awake and I didn’t miss anyone out. Right, gentlemen! Follow me!”

The thirty boys gathered their bags and followed him out. He led them to a large classroom, the walls adorned by posters, signs and notices, all in French.

You may sit where you want,” he announced,

Ryan and Ashley chose a double desk towards the back of the room. Mr. Armitage began by going round the room, finding out who was sitting where, putting the names onto a chart.

Right,” he said firmly. “I now have my seating plan. That is where you are to sit whenever you are in this room, unless I ask you, or give you permission, to sit elsewhere. Is that clear? You will be in here at the start of each day, for morning registration and our daily act of worship, and for afternoon registration immediately after lunch. You will also be in here for French, which I, for my sins and yours, will be teaching you.”

The briefing continued. They would be taught as a form for every class except maths and games, for which the whole year was timetabled at the same time. For maths, the best kids would be put in the top group, with the others divided between two ‘ordinary’ groups. The groupings for games were not specified. Timetables, homework diaries and a plan of the school were issued, and instructions given on their use. Mr. Armitage paused, consulting his seating plan.

Clark, is it?” he barked, his eyes boring into Ryan’s skull. “Pull your tie up properly! I’d much rather not have to do it for you!”

Ryan reluctantly tightened the knot, pulling it up under his collar. He was smarting; he hated being singled out in front of the other kids. It was not an auspicious start. Things were far more formal than they’d been at junior school, just as he’d expected, especially being addressed by surnames only. And having to wear your tie tied right up the old-fashioned way was plain stupid. The boys at the High School had to wear ties, but how they wore them wasn’t an issue.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

After morning break, they returned to the dining hall to be allocated to their maths groups. Ryan was hoping that he’d have made it into the top group. That was the barometer. Apart from music, maths was his best class. If he wasn’t in the top group for maths, he’d struggle even more in some of the others. He listened as the master in charge began to read out the names. “Ryan Clark,” the man announced. Ryan clenched his fist; he was in. The question now was whether Ashley would have made it. Moments later, his name was read out too. Ryan glanced across at him. Ashley was looking apprehensive. Ryan wasn’t surprised; Ashley would find it hard, being in the top group.

With the group assembled, they were led to another classroom, this one with posters and charts that proclaimed its purpose as a mathematics area. Two boys, both Asian, were called out, and directed to sit at the front desk closest to the door. Everyone else was then told that they could sit where they wanted. What was special about these two Asian kids, Ryan wondered, as he and Ashley selected a desk near the back of the room.

He looked around. The first thing that struck him was the number of Asian boys. There had only been three Asian kids in his class at Stainmoor. Before break, he’d counted six of them in form 7-H. In maths group 7M1 there were eleven out of a class of thirty one. That was a total surprise, though it wasn’t something he’d ever really thought about. Did Asian boys do particularly well at maths? It looked like they must do.

After exercise book and text books were issued, he learned the answer to his other question. Saeed Iqbal and Virender Juss had already achieved grade ‘A’s in GCSE maths and would be given special work to do. That was scary! There was no way he was going to be able to excel in this class the way he always had in maths classes at Stainmoor.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

Their first week was at an end. Things had settled down. Music was the only class in which Ryan was actually top, but apart from Saeed and Virender in maths, he was right up there in all the others, with Ashley not far behind. The only class they hadn’t had was games, and he didn’t really care about that. It had been hard work, but he wasn’t struggling.

On the Saturday morning, Mark arrived at Rachel’s house earlier than usual. It was the day of Ryan’s birthday party and he wanted to jam with Ryan and Josh before they headed off to the pool. After saying hello to his sister he strolled through to the front lounge room.

Many happy returns of yesterday!” he greeted, giving Ryan a hug. “So how have your first few days at grammar school been?”

Okay, I guess,” Ryan said, sounding non-committal. “It’s dead strict though; I’d only been there half an hour and I got bawled out for not having my tie on properly.”

Sounds about right,” Mark said, laughing, “But what about the serious stuff? Are you getting on okay?”

Yeah, seem to be,” Ryan told him. “Me and Ashley got in the top maths group. There’s all these Asian kids in there; most of them are really good too. I hadn’t expected that!”

Oh, there’s a great tradition of mathematics in India,” Mark explained. “They take it much more seriously than we do. It was just the same when I was at school.”

There are these two kids, Saeed and Virender, who’ve done GCSE maths already,” Ryan went on. “They sit on their own doing ‘A’ level work.”

I didn’t meet any of those at school,” Mark said quietly, “but there were a few like that on my course at Cambridge. They do maths the way you do music; that’s how you have to think about it.”

Oh, right!” Ryan responded. “It’s weird though,” he countered. “Saeed’s really, you know, ordinary. His dad runs a corner shop.”

And he wants his son to do better than he’s been able to,” Mark said firmly. “There’s nothing weird about that!”

It was time to get some playing done, Ryan trying to take in what Mark had said. Having the same enthusiasm for maths that he had for music seemed an odd concept at first, but when he thought about it, it fitted Saeed and Virender perfectly.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

After an enjoyable hour in the pool, Mark followed Ryan, Josh, Ashley and Squeak back to the changing room. They had a quick shower and began to towel off.

Thanks for what you told me about looking after David while we were on holiday,” Ashley said quietly.

So how did it go?” Mark asked.

It was a bit hard at first,” Ashley said. “He kept asking why I was being nice to him, but once he understood that I just wanted us to enjoy ourselves, he was okay; we had a great time.”

Excellent!” Mark said. “I’m pleased it worked out for you.”

Yeah,” Ashley said, smiling. “Mum and dad were pleased, dad especially. He said I’d done really well.”

A lesson learned, I think,” Mark commented. “So how have your first few days at school been?”

Okay,” Ashley said. “The work’s quite hard though; I’m definitely not one of the stars.”

Just make sure you keep on top of it,” Mark counselled. “You’ll be fine.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

The party began around four o’clock.

I’m only giving you a small present at the moment,” Mark said quietly, handing over a couple of CD’s. “There may be a combined birthday & Christmas present later on,” he added mysteriously, “depending how things work out.”

Thanks!” Ryan said, smiling.

He wasn’t going to argue. Mark was his hero; if Mark said that was how it was, he had no problem accepting it.

After the party, Josh stopped over, just as he had the previous year. Ryan had thought about asking Ashley instead, but had decided against it. He and Ashley could spend time together every afternoon if they wanted. There was another thing too. Ryan had enjoyed his holiday with Josh’s family far more than he’d thought he would; he and Josh had become real mates again, just like the old days. But now that term had started, they had very little time to see each other. After the party was the perfect opportunity.

Just before half past ten, Rachel popped her head into Ryan’s room to say goodnight. As before, Josh was using the bed, with Ryan on an air-bed next to him. They waited almost half an hour. Everything was quiet; there hadn’t been a sound for ages. Ryan pulled off his boxer shorts, and clambered into bed. He was pleased to find that Josh was already naked.

Are we going to fuck tonight?” Josh asked. “I’ve brought a condom.”

Uh, huh,” Ryan responded. “Let’s just do what we do best, yeah?”

Josh knew what that meant and he wasn’t objecting; after all, it was Ryan’s birthday party. They kissed and fondled each other for several minutes before moving effortlessly into a wonderful sixty-nine, each of them lying on his side; they’d done it so often it was almost second nature. They sucked each other expertly, their heads twisting one way then the other, tongues working overtime, Ryan’s finger gently probing Josh’s anus.

Josh’s orgasm was the first to strike. His body stiffened sharply, little drops of watery fluid squirting onto Ryan’s tongue. Ryan’s climax followed almost immediately, three jets of tangy boy-cum spurting powerfully into Josh’s mouth. Josh glowed with satisfaction; Ryan was right; it was what they did best. After a few seconds, they snuggled up again. Moments later they were asleep in each other’s arms.

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

It was Monday morning and their music class was drawing to and end. Even though he couldn’t sing, it was the one class where Ryan really excelled. He knew far more about it than anyone else, and was one of only a handful of boys who could read music.

Ryan Clark,” music master Jim Allingham intoned. “will you stay behind afterwards please. The rest of you may leave quietly.”

The other boys filed out. Ryan went up to Mr. Allingham’s desk.

You wanted to see me, sir?” he asked respectfully.

Yes,” Mr. Allingham said, smiling. “I understand from your previous headmaster that you are a musician of some ability. Would you like to fill me in on the details?”

My main instrument’s guitar, sir,” Ryan explained. “I’ve been having lessons on classical guitar since I was eight. I did grade five in February.”

And what result did you get?”

A credit, sir.”

Very good. Go on.”

My uncle’s been teaching me to play jazz guitar as well,” Ryan continued. “I just played on an acoustic for a couple of years, but when I passed the exam to come here, he bought me an electric.”

And what sort of things d’you play?”

Blues and standards, mainly,” Ryan said, “but since I’ve had the electric he’s been teaching me to play jazz-funk as well. During the holidays, we went to a summer school together; it was great.”

I see,” Mr. Allingham said thoughtfully. “You said guitar was your main instrument, so what else d’you play?”

I began learning piano when I was five,” Ryan said. “I did grade four when I was nine, but by then I was spending so much time playing guitar I stopped taking lessons. I don’t play it very often these days.”

Well, if you’re thinking of being a professional musician,” Mr. Allingham suggested, “you ought to seriously consider taking it up again. For one thing, it will help you to get into one of the top music schools, and for another, if you do decide to do music for a living, being a competent keyboard player is a big advantage when it comes to composing, arranging, musical direction, all that sort of thing.”

I’m not sure, sir,” Ryan said hesitantly.

Well have a think about it,” Mr. Allingham said, smiling. “I could teach you here if you wanted; I teach a few boys privately after school. I’ve got a couple of slots available if you’re interested.”

Thanks, sir,” Ryan answered. “I’ll ask my mum, see what she thinks.”

Excellent!” Mr. Allingham said, still smiling. “Before you go, could you play me something, anything you like?”

Somewhat apprehensively, Ryan sat at the piano. After taking a moment to compose himself, he busked his way through ‘Autumn Leaves’.

Well done!” Mr. Allingham said appreciatively. “So do I take it that you play guitar better than that?”

Oh, yes sir!” Ryan said, grinning, “much better!”

Well, as you probably know, we have a school band here,” Mr. Allingham told him. “We don’t have a guitarist at the moment. From what you’ve told me, I’d love to have you onboard. We rehearse on Fridays after school.”

I’ll have to ask mum about that too, sir,” Ryan said enthusiastically. “I’ll come and let you know.”

0 o 0 o 0 o 0

The whole of Monday afternoons were taken up with Year Seven games. The boys changed into their rugby kit before making their way out onto the field where they were instructed to run a circuit of the perimeter. Though far from the slowest, Ryan let Ashley go on ahead; even with Ashley running at an easy pace, there was no way he could have kept up. Once everyone had completed the circuit, the boys sat on the grass, separated into their forms, three masters ranged in front of them.

In charge was the head of physical education, Mr. Richard Clive Thomas, known to the boys as ‘Arsey’. A P.E. teacher of the old school, Mr. Thomas ruled by fear. He was known as a martinet, a reputation he greatly enjoyed.

Listen to me,” he barked, strutting around like a sergeant major. “The winter game in this school is rugby and that’s what we will be playing. I know some of you have played before; most of you haven’t. Either way, we are going to teach you; that’s what we’re here for. You will listen to the instructions that you are given and follow them to the best of your ability. For the moment, we’ll keep you in your form groups. That will change once we’ve sorted out who can play and who can’t.”

Ryan felt the hair standing up on the back of his neck; the hectoring Mr. Thomas was exactly the sort of teacher he hated. They split into their groups and the class began. Ryan was relieved to find that they were under the care of Mr. Sherwood, the young games master who had taken them for gym the previous week.

He quickly discovered that he was considerably better at rugby than he was at football. Catching and passing a ball were far easier than kicking one, even if this one was an odd shape. Tackling was easy too. As one of the bigger boys in the class, technique was not that important. He simply ran into his ‘target’ in more or less the right position and down the boy would go. At the end of the class, he headed back to the changing room, feeling quite pleased with himself.

In one corner, Mr. Thomas and his colleagues were looking at lists, engaged in quiet but animated discussion. Finally, Mr. Thomas called the boys to order.

Right!” he announced, his Welsh accent quite unmistakeable. “Year Seven rugby training will take place after school on Thursdays. The following boys; put your hand up when I call your name. He began reading out a list, spitting out names like a machine-gun.

Clark!” he snapped.

Ryan didn’t put up his hand immediately. With a common surname, he wasn’t sure if he was the only one.

Ryan Clark!” Mr. Thomas roared.

Very nervously, Ryan put up his hand. Mr. Thomas glared at him. Finally the list of names was completed.

All those whose names I’ve called have shown some ability this afternoon,” Mr. Thomas stated, “so we’d like to see you at training on Thursday. Report here with your kit and we’ll see what’s what.”

Ryan was horrified. He had no wish to be in the school rugby team, or any other sports team for that matter. Apart from anything else, he didn’t have the time. But it was okay; Mr. Thomas had only said that they’d ‘like’ the boys on the list to attend. He didn’t have to go so he wouldn’t.