Normally, when it’s time to leave for school in the morning I turn right at the end of the lane and walk up the road. I say up the road, because the first quarter mile or so is up a hill. Well, more of a gentle slope if anything. The rest of the journey, a couple of miles in all, is downhill and that is gentle too. So, up or down to school it doesn’t matter much. It gets there in the end. It’s the same on the way back except longer uphill. Anyway, that is my normal route to school.
Today, just for a change I turn left at the end of the lane, walk about twenty yards until I come to the railway bridge then carefully climb over Mr Gilbert's barbed wire fence, deliberately ensuring my crotch doesn’t get snagged because it can be painful when that happens and I have a devil of a job to get free. Hold on to the post, left foot on the middle strand, swing right leg over on to middle strand. Swing left leg over onto middle strand and jump both feet clear.
It can be a bit of a scramble climbing the steep embankment but I soon get a decent grasp of tussock and haul myself onto the railway track. The morning train has already passed. There are only two trains a day and the next one comes from the opposite direction late afternoon. I know this for certain but, just to be safe I always make sure nothing is coming before I go onto the track. From up here I can see the River Don sparkling and flashing in the not too distance and I resist the temptation to go back and get my fishing rod.
If I happen to have any copper coins in my pocket I might place one or two on the line to be flattened when the locomotive passes. Usually I use halfpennies. The idea is to make them the same size as a penny but they don’t fool Mrs Florence in the sweet shop because they are too thin. Sometimes I flatten a penny but there isn’t much point in double sized skinny pennies.
It is not easy walking on the sleepers. They are either too close together or too far apart for my natural stride, but I give it a go. Then I try walking in the gaps between them but it’s not natural so I end up walking along the side of the line on the gravel chippings.
Soon I reach the farm where Gavin lives and I climb down the embankment and do the barbed wire climb again into the field where the cows are. I run over the field into the farm yard and knock on the farmhouse door. Gavin’s mum answers. She has a rosy face and white hair. She makes delicious cakes and is always nice to me.
“Morning Mrs Gray,” I say, “is Gavin ready?”
“Goodness me loon,” She exclaims, “Gavin left a good wee while ago. Ye’ed best hurry. Ye’re going tae be awfy late.”
“Thanks Mrs Gray,” I shout, as I run down the yard to the road. I run until she can’t see me because I want her to think I care about being late and then I slow down.
The bell rings when I am still a couple of hundred yards from the school gate and I slow to a dawdle. I hate turning up late when everyone is lined up in the playground and looking at me. I shall wait until they have all gone inside and then I shall.. No. I don’t think I will bother with school today, first lesson is double maths. I hate maths.