(Series 9, Ep.7) Grantly was given a fitting and dignified send-off, which would have been slightly less dignified if Harley had dropped his side of the coffin. Luckily Nikki Boston was on hand to help, because it could have been nasty. It wasn’t really fair to ask upset schoolboys to carry the precious remains anyway. Harley would have been better deployed giving an emotional reprise of his deadly poem from last week. As it was, the only speech was delivered by Maggie, who proudly announced that she and Grantly had been blessed with a wonderful family consisting of Harley, Verruca Salt and Tariq, who’d turned up to pay his respects and do some PE coaching. He’s a multi-tasker, that lad.
As soon as the crematorium curtains closed it was back to school and business as usual. It’s what Grantly would have wanted, because he wasn’t lazy and feckless at all – at least, not during his last day at work.
And it was definitely looking like a routine sort of day when a never-seen-before Troubled Teen peered through the school railings. This happens practically on a weekly basis and sometimes their problems are dealt with in one episode and they’re never seen again, and sometimes they get moved into the school-house and stay for a while. Eve, however, was not looking for Education, she was looking for her mother. Nikki Boston. Yes, I was shocked too, but not as shocked as Nikki was (though Nikki wasn’t as shocked as Tom Clarkson was when he heard his sperm had been stolen and Our Josh was the result – at least Nikki had been aware of Eve’s conception and birth). Eventually it came out that Nikki had been all in favour of having an abortion, and only agreed to go through with the birth on the understanding that Eve’s father would bring her up (this, coincidentally, also happens in my novel Two’s Company, though obviously not to Nikki Boston).
I’ve got to give massive praise to Heather Peace for the way she acted the scenes with Eve, and especially the scene in the car after Eve had left. I’m always amazed when an actor can show such massive vulnerability as to be able to snot-cry on camera. I also have to say that Nikki looked really pretty in this episode, despite the purple sports/leisure wear.
Someone who’d never be seen outside of the house in sports/leisure wear is Carol Barry, who was not impressed by the idea of Our Kacey going to America to hone her boxing skills. “There’s no way in hell she’s going to some fightin’ camp,” was Carol’s final decision on the matter. But when Kacey forged her signature on a permission slip, Carol was forced to go to the school to have a rampage. I love Carol. She wasn’t impressed by Tariq’s coaching credentials (“You’re not exactly Rocky, are you love?”), but she was even less impressed by Kevin Chalk, the man who dumped her daughter. “He couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding,” she said, which gave me a lovely mental image of Kevin trying – and failing – to do just that.
In other departments of the school, high quality education was being provided as usual. Sue Spark was delivering her lessons in a state of zonked-out bliss that had Simon Lousy rummaging in her handbag looking for the tranquillisers. He didn’t find any, but he did find a motivational self-help book called something like Zonked-Out Bliss for Science Teachers. Cheaper than Barry Barry by a long chalk. Simon’s handbag-rummaging had disrupted his own lesson, which was a comparison between those two greats of English verse, Shakespeare (author of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet) and Drake (author of Wu-Tang Forever).
Audrey, who had a fairly quiet episode but is clearly revving up for some total mad stuff next week, got Christine to agree to bring in rationing. Christine wasn’t sure – she thought rationing sounded expensive (and this is the woman who’s in charge of the school *facepalm*). Audrey’s Big Idea is that the whole school, even the people who don’t do history, can bring history to life by pretending it’s wartime and wearing wartime clothing, eating powdered egg and diving for the basement every time a bell rings. It’s the kind of thing that gets a head-teacher noticed, Audrey promised Christine, and Christine’s eyes lit up. She needs to get noticed now that her promise to roll Mandarin out across the entire area depends on George Windsor learning how to teach it first.
In other news, the sponsored clean went well until Dynasty managed to fill the school with chlorine gas by ignoring the wise words on the bleach label telling you not to mix it with other cleaners. The resulting deadly toxin would have been taken more seriously if Grantly had been on hand to quote from Wilfred Owen, but as it was the only victim of the clean-up was Sue Spark, who slipped on a wet floor.
Next time: Living History Week. What could possibly go wrong?