Status

Gronk jealously flicked through the glossy Snobbier-Than-Thou brochure and sighed. Irritated by a blanket exclusion from the course, he intended to make the best of his situation. Gronk permanently borrowed the Snobbier-Than-Thou textbook from the school library, observed the Poshey kids and repeated the vocal exercises in his bedroom. On a brighter note, Gronk was in Bosworth House, which was filled with Posheys, some Gossips and a smattering Outsiders with potential. He saw this as irrefutable evidence that a status uplift was within reach. He had the potential to become a Poshey so he would have to be patient. Bosworth House also gave Gronk the opportunity to openly sneer at Steve Nobody, who was in Goodson House with a horde of horrible Outsiders and the remainder of Gossips.

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Snobbier-Than-Thou

The problem with Gronk’s ambition was the school streaming system. As an Outsider, he was automatically in the lower sets and excluded from the all-important Snobbier-Than-Thou course. Whilst he accepted Outsiders should generally be prohibited from this part of the curriculum, he thought exceptions should be made for outstanding candidates such as himself because he was not like the other Outsiders. He was aspirational and dreamed of the opportunity to learn snooty qualities. 

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Culture

While adventures were being had in the countryside beyond the borders of the Snook, Guido Gronk remained in his parents’ run-down house. It was close to the local park and he could see the trees from his bedroom window. But Gronk detested the outdoors. He did not like grass or trees, and did not care for rain or sunshine. He liked to stay indoors where he could be warm and dry. Indoor activities were his thing. Gronk considered himself a civilised young man. He had pretensions of social climbing and trained for elevation from Outsider to the grand status of Poshey.

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Keep Out

At the top of the wooded hill, the boys pushed deeper into the forest. Scotty was in the lead and stopped short of a forest track. It was where they had seen the gamekeeper speed along in his vehicle a few times. Steve dropped to a knee and signalled with his torch for Scotty to look upwards. The beam hit a slate sign attached to a branch with  ominous white stencilling.

PRIVATE KEEP OUT

They grinned and moved toward a natural dip in the land. It was dark in there and they got to work. Scotty brushed dried leaves away to reveal mud on the forest floor. Steve crept away to find a silver birch tree, the bark of which contained flammable oil. Those trees were aplenty in this area so he soon located one. Opening his bag, he pulled out a knife and peeled the bark sideways. With a small pile of curled bark in his pocket, he moved back toward Scotty and stopped. Clasping his hands together, Steve blew into both thumbs and made two hooting sounds, like an owl. Seconds later three hoots returned through the darkness. It was their all clear signal. Steve returned to Scotty, who had built a pyramid of branches. The silver birch tree bark was placed inside the branches as tinder and Steve prised open the lid of his survival kit. From a waterproof container, he poured an amount of potassium permanganate and sugar mix onto the silver birch bark. Striking a match, Steve soon got the fire going and the flames licked around the dry wood. Smoke billowed and Steve looked up to see the tree canopy above and moonlight shining down.

Copyright © 2021 Callum Stanford.  All rights reserved.

Tactical Movement

The boys knew the street light was to be avoided, so they moved forward and into the next door neighbour’s front garden. Hunched by the window, they could hear the TV was still on. One at a time, they crawled under the window and made it to the far end of the house. The wooden fence was six feet high, but they knew how to traverse it. Scotty, who was stockier than Steve, was up and over in seconds. He hid by a bush on the far side. Steve had his hands on the top of the fence when the front door clicked open. He moved down the side of the house and lay in the shadows as a man clinked an empty milk bottle and looked around. He closed the door. Steve heard the key turn and waited.

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Camping

A week later, Steve and Scotty got permission from their parents to camp in Scotty’s back garden. It was the summer holidays and they had already put the tent up, and arranged their gear. The boys each had a bag hidden inside. Scotty’s Mum had cooked some food earlier and they were now in their sleeping bags as dusk settled in. The boys switched off their torches at about 10:30 p.m. and their eyes became accustomed to the darkness. But they stayed awake, whispering about their plans for the night. Scotty looked at his watch and nudged Steve with an elbow. It was 11:36 p.m.

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Gamekeeper

Barks and growls reverberated around the trees and the dogs sped uphill. The gamekeeper stood with hands on hips and watched his dogs. The boys leapt to their feet and sprinted downhill. Scotty led the way as they weaved between the trees. All stealth was gone and they knew the gamekeeper would be able to follow their footprints. That was of less concern than the dogs, which were gaining. Scotty saw an old stone bridge in the base of the valley and headed to the left of the bridge. Steve followed and stormed toward the stream, trying to keep up with his bigger friend. Scotty got there first and turned around.

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