By Paul Jamison



Chapter – 25


Gerald Robinson sat at his desk in the department and reviewed his case notes. He had, as matters had revealed themselves, rapidly come to the conclusion that Liam Russell was simply not an ‘at risk’ young person and as such, there was nothing more for his department to get involved with. He made a few brief notes and picked up the phone. He needed to make an appointment to see the lad’s mother and close the investigation. He would still check with the boy in a few weeks time to see if there was any chance of reconciliation, but from his investigations he held out little hope of a change of position from Mrs Russell.

He got up and went over to his department head’s office and tapped on the partition. His department head waved him in to a seat at the cluttered desk.

“What’s up, Gerry?” Tim, his department head, asked.

“Oh, I just want to run the Russell case by you before I wrap it up,” Gerald replied.

“Is the boy at risk in any way as far as you can assess?” Tim asked.

“No, not at all, as far as I can establish. He’s in a clean, safe environment, where he’s clearly much happier than he was at home with his mother under pressure to conform to her views and religious beliefs that she’d been putting on him. There’s no suspicion or evidence of any impropriety at all against the people he’s staying with. In fact they’ve an absolutely clean record,” Gerald replied.

“Right, to be honest we’ve much more urgent cases to go onto. So, yes, wrap this one up today. Go and see the boy again in a few weeks’ time, just to back check that all really is well with him. I mean, it’s only a few months now till he can do as he pleases anyway and no court’s going to force him back with his mother against his will at that age. So I agree, there’s no need for us to be involved any further,” Tim finished.

“Yes, that’s my assessment too. I just wanted to run it by you before I told Mrs Russell of the outcome of out investigations,” Gerald finished.

With that said, Gerald collected his papers into the file and left the office to keep his appointment with Mrs Russell. About twenty minutes later he parked his car outside Mrs Russell’s home and walked up the path and rang the front door bell. Within a minute the door was opened by a well dressed woman in her early forties who presented him with a slightly severe expression. Mr Robinson produced his ID card and said

“Gerald Robinson. I’m from the county social services department. I’ve an appointment with a Mrs Russell.”

“Oh, yes, you telephoned, you’d better come in. I see you’ve not brought Liam back from that place,” she said, looking past Mr Robinson towards his car.

Mr Robinson followed Mrs Russell into the house and through to the living room where he took a seat opposite her that she’d indicated with a wave of her hand as she sat herself down and looked expectantly across at him.

“To answer your question at the door, no, Liam’s not with me and we shan’t be proceeding any further. He’s not in any ‘risk’ situation as far as we can assess. He’s with some friends he’s made his own arrangements to stay with and as far as the department is concerned, he’s in a safe environment. His schoolwork isn’t suffering in any way and his welfare is being looked after. So that concludes our investigation,” Mr Robinson said. “But,” he continued, “you may well wish to ask yourself what has gone so wrong with his relationship with you that he felt he needed to leave home. What has caused the breakdown between you that has made him seek alternative accommodation?”

“But he’s living with known homosexuals, surely there’s a strong risk of his being infected with their lifestyle and sinful living?” Mrs Russell snapped back at Mr Robinson, “and as for what caused him to leave home, it is simply his refusal to accept the facts I’ve told him regarding his so called being ‘gay’ and how that needs to be cured with proper counselling from the Church,” Mrs Russell replied vehemently.

“I think you need to be very careful of what and how you say things like that. You could become very much at risk of legal proceedings against yourself. As for the home or lifestyle putting him an ‘at risk’ situation, I can tell you that our assessment shows otherwise. His accommodation is completely satisfactory and there’s absolutely no evidence of any impropriety towards Liam from any member of that household. You must remember that it isn’t our brief to bring young people of Liam’s age of now well over sixteen back into a home situation where they are unhappy or stressed by pressures to conform to religious beliefs or your unwillingness to accept the facts as they are, like his being gay, for instance. That’s no longer considered to be a disease by informed medical opinion, but more a condition like being left or right handed. That was also something that was once thought to be ‘curable’. Nowadays, of course, there would be no question of any ‘cure’ for such a thing.” Mr Robinson paused for breath and noticing the frosty reception his words were receiving he quickly continued. “It’s our opinion in the department that any insistence on, or pre-condition of his living here, that he attend courses or seminars in an attempt change his orientation against his will, could in certain situations in itself be considered abuse, something I really would advise against, as he’d simply remove himself again at the first opportunity. This wouldn’t benefit anyone, least of all Liam, whose welfare is our main priority, his state of mind and his continued well being.”

Mrs Russell stared icily at Mr Robinson throughout his statement and then rose to her feet and angrily said

“Well, if you’re not going to do anything at all to get my boy out of that den of wickedness, and it’s now clear to me that you’re not, then, you’d better go.” She seethed, as she went to the front door to usher Mr Robinson out of her house.

“Well, as I’ve nothing further to say, I’ll bid you good afternoon Mrs Russell. Thank you for your time,” Gerald Robinson said, with as much cold politeness as he could muster as he inwardly seethed at the seemingly total indifference to reality that this woman insisted upon portraying.

Gerald Robinson left the Russell house. Once back in his car he called the solicitor whose number he’d been given by Paul Frost and Richard Masters when they’d provided details on his visit to their house. A few moments later he closed his phone having left messages to be called back as their lawyer was unavailable since he was in court that day, closed his file and headed back to his office.

* * *       * * *


Paul’s viewpoint


I was sitting in the kitchen having a second cup of tea just after Rick and the boys had left for work and school when the phone rang. I picked up and was delighted to hear Adrian on the line,

Hi Paul, how goes it?”

“Oh, pretty well this end. Looking forward to that canal holiday now though. How’re things with you two?” I asked him.

“Oh, we’re as good as ever. The main reason for this call is I’ve had that social worker call me. He’s done all the investigating he feels is necessary and Liam can stay put with you as long as he’s happy to and you’ll have him.”

“Oh, that’s brilliant news for Liam. I’ll have to let him know that today. Are there any pitfalls we should know about legally?”

“Well, and I’ve just checked again, and this is the general opinion the books give. I’ll read it to you…In most circumstances, anyone over the age of 16 can leave home without the consent of his or her parents or anyone with parental responsibility. A parent or person with parental responsibility could take wardship proceedings in court but it is unlikely that any court would order someone over 16 to return home if he or she did not want to.’ So technically, Mrs Russell could try for wardship if she wanted and waste money attempting it, but my opinion is the chances of success are remote and the older that Liam gets, pretty much non-existent to be honest,” Adrian said.

“Thanks, Adrian, very much for your advice on this. We all appreciate it?” I replied.

“Well, you can throw another of your wonderful dinners when you’re all back from the canal holiday, all right?” He replied. “Oh how many of you are going on that? It’s just we need to tell the boatyard next week so they can arrange for the linen and stuff, okay?”

“It’s going to be five or just possibly six on the boat. So get stuff for six would you, please,” I asked.

“Oh, who’s going? I thought it was you two, the lad staying with you and his mate?”

“Yes it is, but don’t forget we’ve Liam now, so that makes five and he may be bringing a school friend too,” I explained.

“Right, of course. Well, you have fun and I’ll see you soon. Bye for now,” Adrian finished.

I said bye to Adrian and had just put the phone back and I’d hardly had time to sit down when the front door bell went. I went down the hallway, a little puzzled as I wasn’t expecting anyone as far as I could recall, and opened the door.

“Good morning, Mr Frost” the elder of two ladies on the doorstep said.

“Good morning,” I replied. I’d a vague feeling that I knew the speaker. I began to realise who they were when the younger of the two smiled at me and introduced herself as Mrs Sutherland and the smile was so like Craig’s I could see where he’d got it from.

“Do please come in,” I replied. It was all coming back to me. Liam had talked to Craig and this was his mother and gran looking for help with computer stuff for Craig and Jamie, something I’d have remembered if I’d not been interrupted by Adrian’s welcome phone call about Liam’s situation.

We reached the sitting room and after offering seats, I asked

“How can I help?”

“Well, it’s good to see you again the elder lady said. I don’t think we’ve had opportunity to talk since Mrs Barnes senior’s funeral this summer?” she remarked.

“I think you’re right there, and before that I recall you came to our partnership party. That’s almost three years now you know,” I replied. “How are you all settling in down the road?” I asked.

“Oh we’ve an awful lot to do and not much time really,” Mrs Sutherland replied. “Everything’s been so much of a rush since my husband died and I start my new job next week too,” she added.

“Oh, I’m glad to hear that,” I said, “must be quite a relief too?”

“Yes, very much so, but, there’s always work for qualified theatre nurses. So I’m at the general hospital theatre suite from Monday morning with the orthopaedic teams,” Mrs Sutherland explained.

“I imagine you are actually looking forward to that?” I asked.

“Yes, it will be the start of the return to normality for our family, I hope,” she replied. It’s all been quite traumatic. The boy’s haven’t said much, but it’s been a strain for both of them in different ways. Perhaps now we can get life back to an even keel again.”

“Well, it’s steps in the right direction,” I ventured. “So what’s needed?” I asked.

“We think they both ought to have new computers for school and I’ll have the older one that Craig has now. My needs are simple, email and a bit of looking things up on-line, that’s all, and of course the internet connection to make them all work. Craig says we need a different sort of box to connect,” Mrs Sutherland said.

“What kind of budget do you have for this?” I asked.

“Well I’ve no real idea how much things are now. We paid about a thousand for the one Craig uses now, but I’ve seen prices tumble since,” she replied.

“Yes, they have indeed. You can get two excellent ones similar to the one I recently built for Will, Commander Barnes’ son from next door, who lives here now,” I said. “But of course you know that. Didn’t Frank come and see you all before he want back to sea?” I asked.

“He did indeed. It was very helpful to talk to another officer actually,” Mrs Sutherland said. “He gave us some pointers to get things moving, which helped a lot.”

“I’m sure Frank’d help in any way he could,” I said. “But, getting back to computers, you can have a couple of reasonable machines for around three hundred each and good ones for between four and five hundred each,” I explained.

“Do you think you could get two new ones and us all connected up for less than a thousand?” Mrs Sutherland asked.

“Oh, very definitely,” I replied. “You’ll get change from that much.” I asked a few more relevant questions regarding their telephone line and linebox locations then made a few notes of what I’d need.

“Do you happen to have your bank card with you?” I asked Mrs Sutherland.

“Yes, we intend to go into town to get bedding and curtains for the boys’ rooms today. The decorator will be finished tonight with a bit of luck and we need to get them sorted out quickly now,” she replied. “Why do you ask?”

“We can go online and arrange an internet account for you right now and in about a week it should be working,” I explained. “By then I’ll have the computers built and the connection box arranged also,” I replied.

“Well, yes if it’s that simple,” she said. “Let’s get on with it. The boys’ll be delighted when I tell them.”

We went through into the kitchen and I booted up our laptop. I noticed Mrs Sutherland looking at it with interest and asked

“May I offer you some coffee and I noticed your interest in the laptop?”

Oh, yes, I think a coffee would be welcome, wouldn’t it, Mother?” Mrs Sutherland replied. “Oh and please stop the formality. I’m Vanessa and my mother’s Alice. Um… yes… how much are these laptops these days, it would be so much more convenient for me I think,” she replied.

“For what you’ve said you want it for, less than three hundred nowadays,” I replied.

“Will it connect easily then anywhere in the house?” she asked me.

“I can’t see why not. We’ve no difficulty here and this one’s over two years old now and still going strong,” I replied.

“Well, in that case I’ll have one then. We’re going to be with my mum for the foreseeable future so it’s an investment really. We’ve just sold our old house to another officer and as it was so well situated for the base it held a lot of value, so we’ve done awfully well. So, as I’m not buying again, I’ve decided I’m staying with my mother now and using that big house as a family home again,” Vanessa explained.

Is it the same layout as here?” I asked. “Two rooms and a toilet on the top floor, then two main bedrooms, a box room and bathroom on the floor below then down here a kitchen, dining room and sitting room?” I asked.

“Yes identical, she replied. “We’re thinking of a bathroom for the boys on the top floor, but the disruption that’ll cause’ll have to wait. We really need to get them settled into their own rooms first, then perhaps during the next holidays we might do those improvements, but they’ve had more than enough disruption to school as it is,” she explained.

“That’s how we’ve done things here. We used a local builder and he created a bathroom with a power shower, toilet, handbasin and mirrors of course, fully tiled and with a big wall storage unit at one end. It came out at seventeen feet by eight feet in dimension, quite roomy in fact. I’m sure the boys won’t mind if you see theirs, if you’d like to?” I offered.

“We may well take you up on that when we are ready to consider how to do it,” Vanessa replied.

I served the coffee and then turned my attention to the computer. After a few minutes’ work I showed Vanessa the internet options from our own ISP and she elected to go for the same as the cost was quite reasonable. Once all the details were entered and processed the final screen indicated that we’d have to wait about seven to ten days for the broadband connection to become active.

I then turned my attention to the computer supplies site I used and after a few minutes had a total price for the three machines and connection router. I turned the screen round to the ladies and said

“Here you are, all three computers with a printer each for the boys, all the connection equipment you’ll need all for eleven hundred pounds.”

“Really! Is that including a new laptop as well?” Vanessa asked.

“Yes, that’s everything you’ve asked for,” I replied.

“We paid that much for the one Craig’s using now when you add the price of the printer and everything,” Vanessa remarked to her mother.

“Yes, Paul, will you go ahead? Is it possible to have one of them looking a little different from the other at all? May we use my card to charge it and have it delivered to you here?” she suggested.

Okay, I’ll do that now. I’ll make the drives on one black and then silver on the other and let you enter your details again,” I replied, as I changed a couple of details, confirmed the sale and moved to payment screen.

“Please don’t say anything to the boys until it’s all arrived and you’ve managed to build them though,” Vanessa asked as she completed the transaction online.

“I’ll do my best,” I replied, “but don’t forget there’re two inquisitive teens living here!” I pointed out.

“Oh! Of course, just do what you can then.” She smiled back. “I know exactly what you mean!”

I laughed in agreement as Vanessa completed the sale details and moved the laptop back to me. “Is there anything else I can help with?” I asked.

“Oh no, you’ve done more than enough, believe me, and thank you so very much. The boys’ll be over the moon with all of this, I know,” she replied. “Well, we really must go into town now and then on to IKEA to look at some furniture for those rooms too,” she said.

“Oh, in that case do come and quickly look at the boys’ rooms. We found some very suitable items for them over the last few weeks,” I replied.

“If you’re sure they won’t mind, I’d like a few ideas,” Vanessa replied. It’s just a viewing mission today. We’ll hire a van and go buy at the weekend,” she explained. “I’ve only got a Ford Ka you see,” she smiled.

“We can use my CitroŽn on Sunday if you like. The boys’ll surely help also. Will’s already assembled two bedroom sets,” I laughed.

We quickly made our way up to the top floor and I briefly showed Vanessa and Alice the layout of the boy’s rooms and the bathroom. They looked around appreciatively and then we returned to the kitchen.

“We can discuss all that later. We really must go now and not take up more of your time. We’re so very grateful for all your help. I’m not sure we’d have got anywhere near as good value by going to one of the big retail stores,” Vanessa said.

“Probably not,” I agreed, as I got up and showed Alice and Vanessa out. “We’ll be in touch,” I said as I said goodbye, closed the door and returned to the kitchen. I sat down, took out my mobile and composed a text message to Rick and Liam to tell them about Adrian’s phone call. After I’d finished and sent that, I sent a more detailed email to Rick at his office and asked him to call me later.  I tidied away the coffee things and headed into work.


* * *      * * *

Will’s viewpoint


I was in the cafeteria at school having lunch with Jus and the twins, when Liam appeared with Craig and quickly made his way over to our table. He was smiling widely as he arrived and planted himself down in a spare seat. We all looked expectantly at him

“I’ve had a text from Paul; seems like that social worker has been in touch and has decided I can stay with Paul and Rick. It’s definite! I’m not going to have to go back home,” Liam explained excitedly.

“Oh, that’s awful!” I said. “That means I’ve to share a bathroom with you till you go to university!” I laughed. “Did’nt mean that!” I joked. “That’s totally brill news. So now your mum can go and get…!” I blew a raspberry gleefully.

“Looks like it,” Liam replied, “but that’s just for you guys, okay? Don’t want it spreading about yet, please,” Liam stated.

“So, there won’t be any more creeping in and out of school through the playing fields entrance then?” Jus giggled.

“I bloody hope not. That was just so embarrassing,” Liam smiled, “but it was a bit of a laugh, wasn’t it? I mean, just leaving her at the front entrance like that and we’d already gone!”

Everyone agreed and laughed at that memory. We exchanged a few more comments and then as the bell went we followed the herd off to registration and assembly.

During the last period of the day which was maths, my least favourite subject, we got our last homework assignment returned and I dreaded opening the book to see what sort of dismal result I had. When I eventually looked I was somewhat surprised to see a C in the margin. I thought I’d have got a D no mistake, but a C wasn’t going to be acceptable either and there was a ‘see me after class’ in the margin. I nudged Jus and showed him the comment. He went wide eyed and moved his straightened hand across his throat in a slashing movement that meant he foresaw the same trouble I did. The bell went for the end of the period and I hurriedly wrote down the homework from the board then as most of the others were now gone Jus said

“Do you want me to hang about? Or shall I go and tell mum you might be a few more minutes?” he asked.

“No, it’s okay. I’m sure this won’t take too long,” I said hopefully. “Wait outside for me, okay.” I replied.

Jus and I went down the classroom and he left the room while I went to the master’s desk. There followed an uncomfortable discussion that ended with my admitting that I hadn’t a clue what he was saying half the time. It just meant nothing to me and so when it came to completing the homework I had even less of a clue as to what I was supposed to be doing.

“Yes, I see that now from the pattern that your work has followed,” Mr Wilton said. “When I’ve given examples you do quite well. That indicates to me you’ve used my example and worked through the problems in an identical way. But, if I change the format, or ask the problem in a different way from that which I’ve used for the example, you’re hopelessly at sea as you’ve not grasped the principles that we are using. Now, does that seem to be a fair summary of your problem?”

I’d no choice but to mumble a “Yes, sir,” back to him.

“I think we are going to have to spend some time with you, or find another way that gets these ideas implanted. A C is not going to be an acceptable course grade. So we need to take some action to get you to a B as a minimum to pass. I think perhaps a fellow student who does have a good grasp of the principles here, may get through where I have obviously not managed to,” Mr Wilton said, with eyebrows raised questioningly towards me.

“Um… Yes, sir, I think so,” I replied, hoping that was what he wanted to hear.

“Right then, leave it with me. I’ll sound out a few of the ones I am confident have the knowledge and we’ll speak again next period,” he said.

“Yes, sir, thank you sir,” I said and quietly left the classroom as I was dismissed with a nod.

I quickly headed for the car park and Mrs Naylor’s car. The others were already in and waiting for me as I scuttled across and into the back seat with Liam and Craig. Jus leaned over and asked

“What’s doing with Wilton then?”

“Extra tuition till I can get a B minimum,” I groaned back. “He says he’ll find an ace student to help me ‘grasp the principles’ as he seems unable to get it through!” I muttered.

“Oh cripes! You know who’s always ace at maths in our set, don’t you?” Jus said, alarm spreading all over his face.

“No…oo?… who?” I asked anxiously.

“It’s Dazzer!” Jus hissed at me.

“Oh bloody h***!” I squeaked out. “You can’t mean that?” I muttered.

“Wait and see!” Justin said gleefully.

I spent an uncomfortable few minutes for the remainder of the ride home. I so did not want anything to do with Dazzer. It’d been hard enough to accept his apology, but there was just no way I was going to learn maths off him. We pulled up as usual outside our house. I got out quickly, said goodbye to all and rushed into the house. I got a Coke out of the fridge and sat in the kitchen brooding till Liam came in. He’d just been saying bye to Craig and Jamie, I guessed.

“What’s with the rushing off like that?” Liam asked, as he got a Coke from the fridge also.

“Oh, I’m failing maths and the bloody teacher Mr Wilton wants me to have extra tuition from an ace student as he thinks I’ll understand better that way!” I explained.

“Seems reasonable,” Liam said.

“Not if it’s bloody Darren Clarke!” I hissed, “the one who shoved us off our bikes, remember!” I shouted.

“Okay, I was there, you know. Just wait and see and if it’s suggested just tell him why that’ll be a disaster. Simple really. Or if you can’t do that, tell Rick and Paul and I bet they’ll go and sort it if you feel you don’t want to say anything?” Liam said.

“Yes, you’re right. I’m sorry I shouted, but I really can’t be doing with having anything to do with Darren. He hurt Jus,” I said a little tearfully.

Liam came and sat down next to me and put his arm on my shoulder.

“I understand,” he said. “It’s not going to come to that. Trust me on this, okay?” he said quietly.

“Yeah, all right,” I smiled weakly back. I finished my Coke and chucking the can in the recycling bag picked up my backpack and wearily headed for my room. “I’ve loads of prep to do and I so need a shower,” I said as I left the kitchen.

Liam smiled and waved me saying, “I’ll come and knock on the door when there’s some food sorted,” he said.

“Thanks,” I replied, as I began to climb the stairs.

* * *      * * *

 Liam’s viewpoint


I was thinking through what just happened with Will when Rick arrived home and he was quickly followed by another car and Rick and this other guy came though into the kitchen.

“Hi, Liam,” they both said

“Um, hi,” I replied, a little nervously as I was sure I didn’t know the other guy with Rick, but he seemed to know who I was.

“Liam, this is Adrian, our good friend and also our lawyer. He’s been a constant source of good advice over the problems you’ve had with your mother. He’s also the friend we’re borrowing the boat off at half term,” Rick explained.

“Oh, right…” I said getting up and shaking the offered hand. “Thanks so much, I was in a real mess there and now it’s all okay?” I asked him.

“Well,” Adrian replied, “insofar as you’re able to stay here for as long as you want, or for as long as Rick and Paul’ll have you, then yes it’s all sorted from the social services side. But, there’s one small fly in the ointment. Your mother technically could apply to the court for wardship, but it’s my opinion that it would be a waste of time and money, as no court is likely to grant it under the circumstances that you are in, given your age now.” Adrian paused. “But if there’s any hint of any harassment or homophobic actions from your mother or her associates then I want you to make notes. If it’s a phone call, save the message or email and tell Rick or Paul. Is that okay?” Adrian finished.

“Yeah, okay, and thanks,” I said. “I got some texts telling me to get back home or else it would be worse for me, but I ignored her,” I told him.

“Did you keep them?” Adrian asked me.

“Yeah, I think so. I’ve not deleted messages for a while,” I told him.

“May I see them, Liam?” Adrian asked.

I showed him my message inbox and he scrolled through and read those from my mother.

“Have you a store or memory card in this phone?” he asked.

“Yeah, I use it for pictures,” I said.

“Good. Transfer all those from your mother to the card and keep them safe. Preferably save them in a file on your main computer if you can, then if we ever need them, you can email the whole lot to me, all right?” he said.

“What’s the idea with these?” Rick asked.

“Simple ammunition. If she starts anything we can show harassment, bullying and intimidation and that won’t do her so called ‘model Christian parent’ image any good whatsoever,” Adrian explained.

“Right, I get it, yes. It’d dent it rather, wouldn’t it?” I said with a big grin.

“Yes, it would indeed. So get on with your life and forget it now is my advice, but remember what I’ve just told you, okay?” Adrian said smiling back.

We all sat down and Rick had made him and Adrian a brew when I remembered Will’s being upset.

“Um… Rick, Will’s come home from school upset over something,” I said.

“Oh, do you know what?” Rick quickly asked me, giving me his full attention.

“I think it’s to do with maths and failing a grade and needing some help. I’m not completely sure though. He’s upstairs in his room doing homework now,” I replied.

Adrian and Rick looked at each other and then both spoke.

“James!” they said simultaneously.

“Ade, would you excuse me a moment. I’ll just go up and have a word with Will, okay?”

“Sure, I’ll call James now.”

“Well, if you’re sure, we don’t know what’s wrong yet,” Rick replied as he left the room and headed upstairs.

“So, are you looking forward to going on the boat at half-term?” Adrian asked me.

“Yeah, I was asked a while back, but forgot all about it what with all the goings on over my mother. It sounds really good,” I replied.

 “Have you seen the layout and pictures of the boat yet?” Adrian asked.

“No. I was going to and then everything kicked off, so, as I said it all got forgotten,” I replied.

“I’ve got them here,” Adrian said getting a very smart laptop out of his bag and setting it on the kitchen table started it up.

A few moments later he scrolled through some pictures and showed me the boat layout plan and a picture of the boat on the canal.

I could see that there were three cabins and two bathrooms, a good sized kitchen area, shower, central heating, a colour TV and a small hi-fi too. He explained that there was a fridge freezer and a microwave oven also and that the front cabin converted into two bunks at night for sleeping. I was very impressed and was now very much looking forward to the trip and thinking that it would be good if Craig could come as well. I now was sure that I wanted to invite him and hoped that he would be allowed to come.

Just then Rick came back down and into the kitchen.

“I’ve talked to Will and yes, I think James could well help here. Will doesn’t understand these equations and it seems his teacher isn’t getting the message across. So he thinks another student who does get it can do that. Trouble is, the one probably most suited is Darren Clarke, our bike shoving incident boy! Total disaster as far as Will’s concerned. I mean, there’s been no more trouble whatsoever, but I don’t think that Darren tutoring Will in maths is a good idea. So would you call James, please, Adrian?” Rick said.

Adrian took out his mobile pressed a speed dial. After a quick conversation he closed it and turned back to us and said. “No problem, he’d be delighted to help. He remembers Will from the dinner party. Now, he can do an hour at seven thirty this evening and again tomorrow or later in the week if needs be, how’s that?” Adrian asked Rick.

“That’s just great. I know Will’ll get on just fine with James and if he doesn’t get it after that, then I doubt he’ll ever get even with those damn things!” Rick said.

“Many thanks for all your help Ade,” Rick said as Adrian put his laptop away and got ready to go.

“No problem. I’ll be round for my dinner soon,” he joked.

“Yes indeed, we owe you one there, no doubts,” Rick replied, as they made their way out to the cars and Adrian drove off.

I chucked my empty Coke can into the recycling bag and went off to do my own homework; I could not help thinking though, as I climbed the stairs, how great it would be if Craig could come away with us all at half term.

* * *      * * *

Will’s viewpoint

I’d just finished my geography homework when there was a knock at my door.

“Hi,” I yelled.

“Will, It’s Rick. May I come in?”

I shot out of my chair and over to the door and opened it

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

Rick came into my room and sat down on my bed. I sat in my chair looking expectantly at him.

“Liam tells me things haven’t gone too well at school today. Want to tell me about it?” he said calmly.

“No… well yeah, things aren’t okay, really. I don’t get these equation things. Mr Wilton wants me to have some extra tutoring off a student who does and that has to be Darren as he’s the ace at maths in our set,” I blurted out.

“Hang on, one thing at a time,” Rick said quietly. “First of all you’re having difficulties with the equations you’re currently doing in school or in your case currently not doing?” Right?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” I told him.

“And, secondly, you’re worried that your teacher will arrange some extra tuition for you from someone who definitely isn’t on your best mates list? Correct?” Rick smiled.

“Yeah, that’s about it,” I admitted.

“Right, item one. We’re a family here and a family supports its members, right? So if there’s ever stuff like this cropping up, come and talk. We’ll between us find a way through it. We’ve faced a few things since you came to live here and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few more between now and your qualifying for some hotshot job a few years from now. We’ve a network of friends, whom we support and who support us. You don’t face this stuff alone, okay?” Rick smiled.

“Okay,” I sniffed back.

“Now, first things first! Equations… James, Adrian’s other half, whom you met at our big dinner party, is a specialist mathematics teacher and he’s coming over at seven thirty after supper, to see where you need help and to get to grips with the difficulty. So, you can stop worrying about being taught by Darren, all right? I will, if I have to, write to the school to find out why its not being taught in a way you can understand in the first place, but let’s see if we can kill the problem first, eh!” Rick said.

“Thanks so much,” I said.

Rick got up and said “Well, just remember, talk to us and we’ll get through it together, right?”

“Yeah, I’ll see you later then… and thanks.”

“That’s okay. Come down when you’re done, all right?”

I felt much better knowing my worst fears wouldn’t materialise and carried on with my other homework. I finished at five to seven and then got my maths books together and went down for supper.  We all had shepherd’s pie, chips and peas and then as we were finishing, the doorbell went at about twenty past seven.

Rick went and answered the door and came back in with a sandy haired guy with a face full of freckles and an enormous grin that I remembered from the dinner party. He’d been very funny that night and I couldn’t imagine him being a maths teacher at all. Rick introduced him as James to me and Liam and made him a brew. When we’d finished supper Rick said

“Why don’t you guys go through to the dining room and get started? We’ll bring drinks later okay?”

“Good idea,” James agreed. We can get on undisturbed there.

I followed James into the dining room and we sat down. I got out my books and showed him my home work assignments, the text book and the work I’d done so far. He quickly looked through and then opening his bag took out an A3 pad and set it on the table with several different colour pens and began to set out some stuff…

“The thing with simultaneous equations is…” he began.

Almost an hour and a half later I’d done all my work and could do others set by James without looking at the examples or textbook.  He had simply started right at the beginning and assumed I could do nothing. I actually understood what was going on after a while and was really quite chuffed. There was a knock at the door and James yelled

“Come!” in a sonorous stage voice that was quite funny.

Rick came in followed by Paul with a tray of drinks and anxious expressions.

“I think we can wrap this up for now and do one more session next week to see if it’s all stuck up there,” he said tapping my head as he spoke.

“Oh good. I had a feeling it might be,” Rick smiled.

“Right, I’ll just have this brew and then I’ll be off or his majesty will wonder if I’ve been kidnapped,” he laughed.

I must have looked confused as they all laughed and Rick said “James means Adrian.”

“Oh,” I replied. I sorta understood what they meant.

James left and Rick and Paul went to see him out. I collected up my books and headed off to my room to tidy away and have another shower. I was shattered after that session of maths, but at last someone had explained it to me and I’d got the meaning. It was still only just after nine, so I went down and joined the others in the sitting room for a while and watched some TV until it was time to go to bed.


End of Chapter 25