Paul and Shell have arrived at Cold Haven, their new house deep in the country. The house is huge and the garden is as big as a city park, but after a while Paul starts to miss London and home ...
‘There’s no-one to talk to here!’ I burst out. ‘At our old house I had Steve and John-Jo and ...’
I stop. I know by Mum’s face that I’ve said too much.
‘Course you miss your friends. It’s only natural,’ she says, and then she sighs. I hate Mum sighing.
‘Everything’ll work out ...’ she says, but more as if she’s talking to herself than to me. Then she seems to make a decision.
‘Has your dad told you? He’s found a school.’
Why does Mum say that? She must know Dad hasn’t told me anything.
‘What? Where? When do I start?’
‘Ooh, I never thought I’d hear you sound like that about school. You must be fed up.’
‘I’m not really. I just miss ... you know. Home.’
‘You mustn't talk like that, Paulie,’ says Mum, but she says it quite gently. ‘This is home now.’
‘Where’s the school?’
Mum picks up the curtain cord and plays with it, looking down, not at me any more.
‘You know, Paul, me and your dad want you to have opportunities. The chance of a really good future. And now lots of things are possible, things we couldn’t do before. Try to understand. The thing is, we think it would be best if you went to a boarding school. Just as a weekly boarder, coming home at weekends. It’s called a prep school. Then, in a year or so, when you’re thirteen, you’ll go on to one of the top schools. Public school. You’re a clever boy, Paul. There’ll be no stopping you then.’
I can’t think of anything to say. One look at Mum’s face tells me that not only has this all been decided, but that the place in the weekly boarding school has already been booked and probably paid for. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve bought my uniform already, and it’s upstairs waiting for me to try it on.