What is a young man to do when it keeps on raining outside and he can’t go in the garden to play?
Why, play with a balloon, of course!
He can have lots and lots of fun and forget all about the nasty weather…
If only it would keep still for a moment…
But then, all of a sudden…
There was a loud BANG and the balloon was no more…
In my book, ‘Murder in the School’ under my pseudonym Amanda Marigold, there is a chapter on balloons. The book is available for purchase in the Kindle Store at Amazon.com
It took a long time for Miss Pink, the teacher in charge of the Nursery Unit, to get all the Nursery children back across to the Nursery after the fiasco in the hall that day. Once they were settled she went into the Nursery kitchen to make a cup of tea and calm herself down. While she was waiting for the kettle to boil she heard the telephone in her office ringing. Quickly she went to answer it.
“Can I speak to the Head teacher please?” said a cheerful voice.
Miss Pink explained without going into too much detail that the Head teacher was unable to come to the phone just now and asked if she could take a message or get the Head to ring back?
“Yes, please. My name is Alex and she knows the number”.
Miss Pink’s heart skipped a beat. She touched the drawer of her desk. Inside was a letter from someone called Alex to the Headteacher, Ms. Gardner. Miss Pink had found the letter on the floor of the Nursery on the fateful day at the start of term when Ms. Gardner had observed the Nursery. So far Miss Pink had not had the courage to return the letter to Ms. Gardner. You see she knew what was in the letter. Curiosity had encouraged Miss Pink to read the letter and now that she had she was unable to give it back. Now that she knew what the words said she would have to be very careful. The future of the school depended on it.
Two weeks into October and a consignment of blue balloons arrived at PrimrosePrimary School. There were 500 all together; one for each child and one for each member of staff and a few spare. They were to be blown up, messages tied on and launched into the sky to celebrate the official opening of the new amalgamated Primary School. Reporters from the local newspaper were going be present taking photographs to mark the event and the local MP would cut the ribbon to release the balloons. The children were very excited.
Mrs. Smithers (the part-time School Secretary), had a special room upstairs in her cosy cottage at Wood End. This is where she kept her ingredients and where she made her spells. Shelves on the walls displayed rows of round glass fish bowls. These were ideal for holding the ingredients because they could be seen at all times and she could find what she wanted quickly. The glass fish bowls held such natural forms as shells, feathers, rose petals and pine cones. Mrs. Smithers reached up and took down a blue balloon and some coloured stardust. Next she reached up to the highest shelf and took down her hazel wand. Mrs. Smithers’ three black cats watched her. Their names were Sparkle, Little Mo and Bast. Sparkle was a longhaired beauty, mostly black with a white tummy and white socks. Little Mo was a small, pretty cat, shorthaired, also with white socks. Sparkle is her mum. Bast was a very large male cat, mostly black but with a white bow tie. He was very greedy. They each had their own basket in Mrs. Smithers’ upstairs room and helped her with her spells. When Mrs. Smithers cast her magic circle she always made sure that the three adorable black cats were inside it so that they come to no harm.
Gerald was the caretaker at PrimrosePrimary School. He wore a large bunch of keys at his belt and with these he could access every room in the building. He had had a shady past and could always be relied upon to GET things. He always knew the right person to ask when something unusual was needed and he could usually manage to GET things a bit cheaper. He had purloined some canisters of gas to fill the balloons for the Grand Opening and these he put in the spare classroom with the balloons. During the morning of the big day Mrs Wales, the General Assistant, together with some parent volunteers and a member of the Governing Body, set about filling the blue balloons with the gas. The gas canisters were old stock and there was leakage occurring. This caused the ladies to start giggling and when they spoke, lungs full of the laughing gas, their voices sounded just like Donald Duck. Ms. Gardner, patrolling the corridors as was her wont in the mornings, stopped outside the spare classroom and peered in through the glass window. What she saw were the ladies inside acting as if they were drunk; laughing and rolling about amongst a bright blue sea of balloons. Ms. Gardner pushed the door open and stormed in “What is going on in here?” she demanded to know.
“Ah ha ha ha ah ha ha”, giggled Mrs. Wales. “We’re blowing up balloonoohoonzzz, ahh ha ha ha.” Try as she might she couldn’t stop laughing.
Balloons were whizzing about in all directions .
“Yes, Ms. Gardner, ha ha ha ha , we’ve nearly finished”, said a usually dignified Governor. “only we can’t stop laughing, ha ha ha ha ha hee hee.”
Ms. Gardner, her face like thunder, exotic perfume from Marrakesh filling the air, slammed her hand on the desk and insisted that they came to their senses. Tears of laughter were streaming down the faces of the volunteers and then, miracle of miracles, Ms Gardner started to smile herself. Quickly she left the classroom, closing the door behind her and thought to herself “They’re all mad!”
That afternoon the Grand Opening of Primrose Primary School took place. All the children were excited to see the filled balloons. They were kept in the spare classroom until they were needed and then they were brought out carefully and secured under a net in the playground. Four ribbons tied the net to four chairs and another ribbon was in place, ready to be cut by the MP.
Mrs. Morgan, the MP, one of the Governing Body and Ms. Gardner walked out of the staffroom and into the playground for the opening ceremony. Parents clapped loudly.
“The children have been writing messages to send away with the balloons when we release them” said Ms Gardner. “We are hoping that some of the balloons will travel a very long way and spread the news about our new school.” She turned to the waiting crowd of children, reporters and parents.
“I would like to introduce you to Mrs. Morgan, our local MP, who is now going to cut the ribbon, declare the school officially open and allow the balloons to travel far and wide” said Ms. Gardner.
Mrs. Morgan stepped forward, made a short speech and used the scissors to cut the ribbon. Ooo’s and ahh’s from the children sent the balloons on their way with lots of little message cards fluttering like butterflies underneath.
Ms Garner had been standing amongst the balloons when the ribbon was cut and some of the cords had become caught around her arms. This coupled with a sudden gust of wind of gigantic proportions and Ms. Gardner was hoisted into the air with the balloons. Her legs dangled down beneath her as she was whisked right up into the air and dropped a few seconds later on to the roof of the boiler house.
“My God”, said Mrs. Van Gogh,(the art teacher), “Did you see that?”
Cameras were clicking away in gay abandon, taking full advantage of Ms. Gardner’s undignified landing, legs akimbo, either side of a chimney pot.
The smallest child in the Reception Class was the only one to see Mrs. Smithers clicking her fingers just before Ms. Gardner “took off” into the sky.
“How do you do that?”, she asked.
“I’ll show you tomorrow”, said Mrs. Smithers and the corners of her mouth turned ever so slightly upwards.
“She’ll be furious when she gets down”, said another voice, hiding her giggles behind her handkerchief.
“Fetch Gerald!” said someone else. “Fetch the caretaker”, “Gerald, Gerald, Gerald.”
Two days later a blue balloon came to rest in a market in Marrakesh, which was the very place where Ms Gardner had purchased the exotic perfume, which gave her such a distinct aroma when she passed by. Tied to the blue balloon was a small ticket which said “A. Gardner, Langwitch, England.”’
and just before you go, I want to bring you some real joy, although you might want a hankie close by! Please click here to watch a wonderful film called ‘The Red Balloon’, made in 1956.
I told you it was good, didn’t I.
I hope my post today has brought you much happiness.