Authors: Jean Ure
Jem ma Mason
Amelia Rose Slaughter
I am having terrible trouble with girls. They won't leave me alone! This morning in geography this girl in my class, Amy Wilkerson, deliberately came and sat next to me. I mean, like, out of about three zillion empty seats she had to come and park herself next to
. Why did she do this? It was extremely embarrassing, especially when she started getting all cosy and leaning up against me so she could talk to her friend Sharleen on the other side of the gangway. Why didn't she go and sit next to Sharleen? That's what she normally does. Why does she want to come squashing herself all over me?
I really like geography, it's one of my favourite classes, but how can you concentrate when there's someone nudging you all the time, and breathing over you, and banging at you with their knees? She ruined it for me! I couldn't get away from her. Plus she's lefthanded, so whenever we had to write stuff our hands kept touching. I'm sure they didn't have to keep touching. If she hadn't been hunched right up close to me they wouldn't have. It was almost like she wanted them to. So now I've got a messy page in my geography book where my handwriting suddenly jerks up and down where she's jogged me. I try to keep my stuff tidy. I don't like it all messy! I hope she doesn't think she's going to make a habit of this, cos if she does I shall have toâ
I don't know! I don't know what I shall do. It's getting beyond a joke! Amy Wilkerson is not the only one. The other day, in art, Janine Edwards kept beaming at me. I'm not imagining it! Every time I looked up, she caught my eye and she beamed. What was she beaming for???
It's quite scary. They're all at it! Beaming, breathing,
It's even happening with Year 6. On my way out of school this afternoon there was a great gaggle of them, hanging around by the main gate. I recognised some of them from when I was in Juniors; I think they may be friends of the Microdot (otherwise known as my sister). When they saw me they all started to giggle and squeak and stuff their hands into their mouths. It's very off-putting when girls behave like that. I had to keep looking at myself in shop windows to check I'd got my clothes on right. I still don't know what they were giggling at. It makes me very self-conscious.
Maybe that's why they do it? Maybe it's their secret weapon. They get together in groups and lurk about, waiting for boys to giggle at. But why pick on me???
I didn't mean to write all that. All that about girls. They are not part of my plan and I don't know how they got there. From now on I am going to ignore them. They are going to be
Right. That's it! They've gone. Now I can get started on what I was going to get started on before I was interrupted. By
What follows is the official autobiography of my life so far. So far as I have lived it, which is eleven years plus nine months, three days, and probably a little bit extra, only I am not sure of the exact time I was born as Mum says she can't remember. She just says vaguely that it was “in the early hours of the morning”.
That is typical of Mum! She is quite a slapdash sort of person. Anyway, however long I have lived it makes a total of
one hundred and eight thousand and
forty-four hours (not counting leap years). That might not seem a lot to some peopleâmy granddad, for instance, who is almost eightyâbut I think I have lived long enough to make a start. One day when I am famous as an expert on dinosaurs, people might be quite curious to read about my early struggles. Not just with Amy Wilkerson but with my family, and especially with the Microdot. Getting them to take me
. That is my biggest struggle.
Now that I have started, I am not sure what to put in and what to leave out. There is not much to be said about my beginnings; they were just quite ordinary. There isn't anything much to say about where I live, either. That is also quite ordinary. A bit depressing, really, though I do my best not to dwell on it. I'm sure that lots of people who are now famous had what Dad calls “humble oranges” (he means humble origins; it is Dad's idea of a joke. He is always coming out with these things).
I suppose I should say something about where I go to school, except that I can't really think of anything much worth saying. School is also just ordinary! But one day people might be interested. I think I shall make
I am in Year 7, and these are my favourite lessons:
These are my
Cross country running. (This is not really a lesson but we have to do it once a week and it is like a form of torture.)
I expect I would quite enjoy English if we could read more interesting books, instead of the rather soppy ones that Mrs Baxter always goes for, and I would definitely like history if we could do the Triassic Period, but Mr Islip says this is not on the curriculum as no one knows enough about it. Pardon me, but I know enough about it! I bet I could do an entire exam on the Triassic Period. Just because Mr Islip is ignorant, I don't think he should accuse other people of
being so. He didn't even know when the Triassic Period was! He thought it was only about two million years ago. When I told him it was
million, he just said, “Well, there you are. That proves my point.” Actually, all it proves is that even teachers don't necessarily have any idea what they're talking about.
Anyway, that is enough about school. On the whole it's not a bad sort of place. The worst thing about it is where it is: right next door to the Juniors. This means that the Microdot and her friends can gather and giggle every day if they want, and there is nothing that I can do to stop them. And there is no other way of getting out of school! Not that the Microdot was actually there when they were giggling, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if she was the one that organised it.
“Go and wait by the gates until my brother comes out and then start giggling!”
I can just hear her. It's just the sort of thing she'd do. I'm not going to ask her about it; I wouldn't give her the satisfaction. And if she dares ask
, like, “Did you notice my friends when you left school today?” I shall simply say, “Friends? What friends? I didn't know you had any.” I mean, what were they giggling
Now I have gone and upset myself again. I think I shall make a list. Any list! List of my family.
My Family Oliver Jones. My dad.
My dad is very long and thin, with big hands and feet which people tease him about. Recently he has developed a bald patch on the top of his head. He is very sensitive about his bald patch, so that sometimes he combs his hair over it in a vain attempt to stop it showing. Mum says he is being ridiculous. “A man of your age!” Personally I think that is a bit unfair, cos how would she like to go bald?
Dad is a wood sculptor. He works in his shed in the back garden, sculpting wood strange and curious shapes. People pay him for this. When they are not paying himâwhen there are not enough people who want bits of wood in strange and curious shapesâhe makes rustic
furniture for the local garden centre. Once for my birthday, when I was little, he made me a wooden dinosaur. He was really supposed to be making a rocking horse, but he said, “The wood wouldn't let me”. Often, according to Dad, you just have to make what the wood tells you to make. So I got a rocking dinosaur, instead, and that was what set me off on the whole dinosaur trail. I have Dad to thank for it!
Sara Jones. My mum.
Mum is almost the opposite of Dad, being very short and a bit on the plump side, with a round beaming face. Everyone says that she is pretty, and I guess she is, though it is hard to be sure when it's your own mum. Certainly, in spite of being plump, she is a really fast mover. She whizzes about all over the place like she is jet-propelled. Dad is for ever telling her to “Just stay still for a minute, woman! You're making me feel giddy”.
Mum, I think, is a bit eccentric; she is definitely not like other people's mums. Not the ones that I have met. For instance, she hates cooking, she hates housework, she hates shopping, and most of the time she wears old jeans and sweaters covered in hairs. Animal hairs. Actually, the whole house is covered in animal hairs. Sometimes they even get into the food. It is all very disgusting, but what can you do? I don't think Mum even notices.
When she was first married, Mum used to be a veterinary nurse. Now she runs a cattery in the back garden (opposite Dad's shed) where people leave their cats when they go on holiday. There is a big wire enclosure with a row of little huts, each with its own snuggle bag and litter tray. Even its own scratching post and catnip toy. Dad says it is like a five-star hotel.
One of the maddest things about Mum is her passion for Jack Russells.
She started off with one and now she has five. Every time she hears of a Jack Russell that needs a home, she goes racing off to get it. There are Jack Russells all over the place! On the chairs, on the table, on the beds. Last week one even jumped into the bath with me. It's kind of zany, but you get used to it.
William Jones. My brother.
William is fifteen, and is tall like Dad, but not so thin. I think he is probably quite good looking, or will be when he has grown out of his pimply phase. Will's pimples cause him much distress. He has special cream to put on them but so far it doesn't seem to have done much good. His life, just at the moment, is dominated by pimples. I feel very sorry for him and just hope it never happens to me.
Dorian Jones. Myself.
I think I have said enough about me for the moment. Obviously there will be more later on.
Annabel Jones. My sister.
The Microdot takes after Mum, being so short she practically can't be measured. Like Mum she is always
; but while Mum scuttles about like a demented hen, all mad and happy, the Microdot hurls herself to and fro in a frantic rage, like a porcupine with its quills stuck up.
I call her the Microdot to pay her back for calling me
Doreen, which is what she does when she wants to annoy me. The Microdot suits her. Annabel is a ridiculous name for someone that's hardly any taller than a milk carton. She says Dorian is a ridiculous name full stop. “Specially for some geeky nerd that's into dinosaurs!”
I have a lot of trouble with my sister. I am not going to say any more about her; it will only get me all hot and bothered again. I
she was behind the giggling.
I am not going to think about it.
Grandparents Mum's mum: Wee Scots Granny.
Wee Scots lives in Glasgow, and as we are down southâ“true Sassenachs”, as she calls usâwe don't get to see her all that often. Which I think is a pity, as she is what is known as
, meaning that she is even madder than Mum. She is also smaller than Mum, and rounder than Mum, but if they ever had a mum-and-granny race I'd back Wee Scots any time. She goes like the wind! She is the origin of my catch phrase,
Great galloping grandmothers
! I use this phrase all the time. I am famous for it. I have this mental picture of all these ancient old grannies, galloping along. Wheeee! There goes another one.
Wee Scots would beat the lot. She is full of energy! Even though she is sixty years old she still bombs around on a moped. “Fattest woman on a moped in Glasgow!”
If Mum hadn't put a stop to it she'd probably bomb down here on a moped, as well. As it is, she comes by coach, arriving hot and flushed with too much usquebaugh (pronounced ooskabaw). That is the Gaelic word for whisky, and is what Wee Scots always says when Mum accuses her of having “tippled”.
Dad's mum and dad: Gran and Granddad.
There is not a lot to say about Granddad as he is a rather quiet sort of person. He is also very old (he is the one that is almost eighty). He likes to play old-fashioned games that he played when he was a boy, such as
, which he keeps in a cupboard. We always have to play them when we go to visit. I don't mind, if it makes him happy. I think when you have lived as long as he has, you deserve to be happy.
GranâBig Nanâis not quite as old as Granddad, but I still can't think of much to say about her. She is very strict, and is always reminding us to watch our manners. She says that nobody under the age of fifty seems to have any these days. It bothers her quite a lot.
She and Granddad live in Weymouth, which is not very far away so we see them quite often, but fortunately only one day at a time. They don't come to stay. They came once, for Christmas, a few years ago,
but Gran couldn't take Jack Russells all over the place. Dad says the Russells are our secret weapon!
It occurs to me that I might not have been quite fair
to Gran and Granddad, but it is very difficult, sometimes, when people are old; you can't tell what they are really like. You can't imagine them, for instance, ever being young. I have just tried to imagine Gran being in Year 6 and giggling. Or being in Year 7 and sitting herself next to a boy and
over him. No way! It is like trying to picture the Queen going to the toilet. The mind bogles. (Or is it boggles?)
I can imagine Wee Scots. I bet she scared all the boys rigid! I wonder if Mum did? I wonder if she used to giggle at Dad? Maybe I'll ask him and find out. I'd like to know if he had the same trouble I do. I didn't have it last term! Why has it suddenly started?
And how long is it going to go on?
I'm getting worked up again. I shall finish my list! I've done Family, what else can I do? Dogs! I could do dogs. After all, they are part of the family.
Molly, Polly, Dolly, Roly, and Jack. They are mostly white with brown splodges except for Roly, who has a black patch over one eye, and they are all mad and busy, just like Mum. They bark a lot and run around and jump on things. They also dig holes in the garden and play tug with people's knickers and underpants and bury chew sticks under cushions so that when you sit down you go “Ow! Ouch!” and wonder what is sticking into you. They are what Dad calls “dogs with