It was Monday morning and the head teacher wanted to speak to me. Oh dear, what had I done wrong? Did she know about Miss Candlefoot and me?
Tuesday was the general meeting in the school hall – everyone was there. The head teacher gave a long speech on the special term, the summer term, the importance of hard work, the examinations and the need for those important qualifications for a happy and successful life – almost the same as last year and the year before.
“And now I have some bad news, Mr Cronby, the boys sports teacher, is very ill. He is in hospital and has had two operations and is not expected to return to teaching this term. We all hope good health will return to Mr Cronby...”
“However that leaves us with a problem, a replacement teacher is very difficult to find at this time of the school year. So let me introduce to you someone you probably already know: the dragon who plays football.”
I walked onto the stage with Milly, Marianne, Francis and Enda. “Hello everybody, I think you all know who I am, the captain of the girls upper-school team. The team has been very successful this school year, played ten, won eight and drawn two – we're top of the Avon County League.”
“The news about Mr Cronby has made me very sad. I had a lot of contact with him about the pitches, the home and away games, the bus trips for the teams and so on. If anyone wants to visit Mr Cronby in hospital they can arrange that with the school secretary.”
“I want the football tradition at the school to be as strong when he comes back as it is now. Yesterday I stepped down from my position as captain of the girls upper-school team, the girls have elected Marianne Feinstone as their new captain, applause for Marianne.”
“I have been appointed by Mrs Denham, the head teacher, with the backing of the board of Governors as football coach for this term. As coach for both girls teams, and wait for it, for both boys teams.”
I paused and looked around. Some of the boys looked a bit dumbstruck – Robbie's chin had hit the floor and Miss Upham was very uninterested. Chelly looked bewildered.
“No, that does not mean that we will be playing mixed teams or playing boys teams against girls team – Joe and Mildred Public are not yet ready for that. However we will be doing mixed training, upper girls and boys on Monday afternoons, lower girls and boys on Friday afternoons, home and away matches on Wednesday afternoons and occasionally on Saturday mornings.”
“I will need a lot of support from you football players and fans. Tomorrow are two important games at Farningham Grammar, there are a few empty seats for fans on the bus, ask the school secretary.”
“A big round of applause for Milly Clark, captain of the lower girls, and for Enda McCray, captain of the lower boys. A big round of applause for Marianne Feinstone, captain of the upper girls, and for Francis Spokane, captain of the upper boys.”
It is dark, I can see nothing, it is Wednesday morning. But I can taste my love, I can feel my love's breathing, I can hear my love's heartbeat.
It is getting light, I can hear the dawn chorus, I cannot see my love, I cannot taste my love, I can feel my love. She is close behind me, her arms wrapped loosely around me. Her parents are visiting friends, a very long extra maths lesson for us.
We will have an early breakfast, we will drink from one coffee cup and eat from one plate. My Dragonette is going to school very early for extra football training. There are important away games this afternoon.
“Welcome aboard the bus, everyone. We are on our way to Farningham, to Farningham Grammar School for Boys. There our two teams, led by Enda McCray and Francis Spokane, will play the Farningham lads.”
“A special welcome for the fans who are also on the bus, especially Mrs Denham, our head teacher, and Miss Candlefoot, one of our maths teachers. The journey time is about twenty minutes, time for a song. No excuses, everybody is holding a copy of our song sheet. We start with the school song.”
“I've got to tell you, both our teams won. Perhaps our singing on the bus helped or the cheering or because Mrs Denham was there. My darling Dragonette is very happy too, though I think that she is a bit jealous of Mrs Denham. I have asked her to explain to you why she has no name.”
We agreed that I should call her Miss Candlefoot at least until the end of the term and that I would remain nameless as usual.
“I don't need a name for you. I know who you are. You are the you who goes to sleep with your arm inside my rib cage clutching my heart. How could I not know who you are.”
I was still in a triangle. It was clear who was the apex – Miss Candlefoot. The second vertex was Chelly and the third Mrs Denham. But where was I? In the middle perhaps.