I said there was a story about Polly in here somewhere...
THis Time Round / Then Do That Over
Polly's Guide To the Rules (aka The Perils of Polly)
by V. Jewitt
TTR/TDTO: Polly’s Guide to the Rules
Polly’s the most popular girl in the school, but she’d rather be Dodo…
10. Being the Most Popular Girl in the School takes dedication, effort
and not always doing the things one wants to. And brushing one’s hair
Polly sat on the nearest table and made a face. It was a Monday.
Mondays meant English, Maths and nothing in between.
People who knew Polly well would have trouble believing it but it was
the gap in the middle that was causing her trouble.
“I don’t see what the problem is,” Patrick Doctor said as he crossed
to her side.
Polly glanced across at him with a small smile on her face. “No, I
don’t suppose you do,” she returned. “It’s just that – well, you know
how things have been lately.”
“Ah,” he said heavily. “The school does seem to be even more in a
state of flux than usual.”
She propped her elbows on the table and rested her head in her hands.
“And suddenly I’ve got all this responsibility.”
Polly grimaced. “Oh, most popular girl in the school and that sort of
thing. We’re the oldest class, so it has to be one of us. But it’s
all such a nuisance.”
“I’d have thought it was a compliment.”
She sighed. “I suppose it is rather. It’s just that if a popular
girl takes something from an unpopular girl – well, that’s plain mean,
“I’m sorry,” said Patrick, “but you’ve lost me there, Polly.”
9. Never steal your best friend’s boyfriend.
It had been all very well three years back – even if it seemed more
like aeons ago now – when Polly had been running after boys in the
year above. I mean, why would she have taken any notice of annoying
and short Ben Jackson taking up with her best friend Dodo? She’d
thought it was sweet at the time.
Now, she didn’t. She really didn’t. And there weren’t any older boys
any more. Everything had gone wrong and it was terribly hard to put
one’s finger on how or why it had happened.
“Is that all?” said Pat, on hearing her explanation. He clapped his
hands together cheerfully. “Well, in that case, all you need to do is
tell Ben and I’m sure it’ll all work out.”
Polly grabbed him by the arm. “Oh, but you mustn’t! Promise me. You
see, I can’t do anything – it’d be unfair. There are rules, you
“I know, but I didn’t think you had any problems breaking them,” he
said with a grin at her.
She laughed. “Some rules, no. But stealing your best friend’s
boyfriend? That’s a no-no. Climbing over the wall to run away from
Maths? That’s different.”
“Oh,” said Pat and thought about it. His face brightened again. “Of
course! We don’t have to tell anyone. Jamie and I will come up with
a plan and we’ll break them up for you.”
Polly faced him sternly. “No. That’s as bad. I’d know. I’d feel
guilty. It wouldn’t be right.”
“Well, what are you going to do then?” he responded, slightly sulkily.
She put on a determined look. “The only thing I can. I’m going to
concentrate on my work and wait till this silliness goes away.”
“Oh,” he said and edged towards the door.
Polly glanced after him, knowing him well. “And, Pat – if any
mysterious things start happening to Dodo and Ben, I *will* know who
to blame and I *will* come up with something nasty to deal with you
He acknowledged that. It didn’t do to push Polly too hard. When
forced, she could come up with uses for nail-polish remover that would
have every Cyberman in the vicinity fleeing for their lives.
“Look, Polly and Patrick seem to be planning something,” observed
Vicky nosily as she and Susan wandered past the classroom, engaged on
their own secret business.
By the time Year 7 arrived in the classroom for their lesson, it was
all over school that Polly and Patrick were going out and Miss Wright
had caught them kissing and given them detention and two hundred lines
“Jamie,” said Patrick, running after him down the corridor. “Oh,
there you are. We need to help Polly, but she’s not making it easy
He stuffed half a sandwich in his mouth. “Umm hmm?”
“Oh, really, Jamie,” said Pat, ducking to avoid crumbs. “She needs
help, but she says that we’re not to try and interfere under any
He swallowed the rest of the sandwich hastily and started choking.
“We’ll have to be subtle,” mused his friend thoughtfully. “It could
Jamie, turning red in the face, spat his mouthful onto the floor and
“Really, Jamie,” said Zoe, who was passing by at that moment, “that’s
He protested incoherently, but she was already marching off towards
the library with her faithful shadow Gwendoline trailing behind her.
“Jamie,” said Patrick reproachfully, “I don’t think you’re listening
to me, are you?”
8. Be nice to everyone (unless they are trying to take over the
Polly settled down in her niche in the library and opened her book.
She had only read two lines when she was joined by Zoe.
“I am rather busy,” she said.
The other girl took no notice. “I’ve just sent Gwendoline to look for
a book, but I needed to talk to you. She will keep having these
ridiculous crushes on all sorts of people, but now – well.”
She pulled her chair across. “Now she’s got a crush on Pat. And you
know what he’s like. He won’t even notice.”
“I don’t see what the problem is, then,” said Polly. “She’ll move on
to someone else and it won’t bother him.”
This sort of thing had happened several times before, as Pat was quite
good-looking and he was the best archer in the school. If it weren’t
for his dress-sense, someone could possibly describe him as dashing.
But most admirers were put off by the practical jokes even before they
realised that anything romantic would need to be spelt out in very
large letters before he noticed. Like everyone except Gemma Corwin,
Gwendoline would learn that for herself.
Zoe put her head in her hands. “Yes,” she agreed. “I suppose I’m a
bit fed up with her. She’s so useless and she keeps complaining and
she falls for every single practical joke that Pat and Jamie come up
with and-. Oh. Hello Gwendoline!”
“Hello.” She passed Zoe the heavy book and then sat down, opened up
her notebook and started doodling hearts.
*You see* mouthed Zoe to Polly.
Polly closed her own book carefully, aware of not entirely dissimilar
doodles. See? She told herself. Everyone has crushes. It’s all
nonsense and it doesn’t mean a thing.
“Polly, my dear,” said Bill. “You haven’t seen Susan or Vicki, have
She shook her head. “Not lately, although Steven seems to think they
might be up to something.”
He considered this. “Hmm. That was what I thought. I’d better find
them before Barbara or Ian discover whatever it is they’re up to.”
“I’ll let them know if I see them,” she told him. Barbara and Ian
were head girl and head boy respectively and they would certainly have
something to say about sixth formers setting a bad example to the rest
of the school if they found Susan and Vicki getting into mischief.
7. Jealousy isn’t pretty, so don’t let it show.
It was odd, but Dodo at eighteen looked a lot younger than she had at
fifteen or sixteen year, Polly reflected as she brought her tray
across to her friend’s table.
Dodo had sandwiches as usual.
“What is it today?” Polly asked politely.
Dodo swallowed hastily. “Marmite.”
“Lovely,” said Polly and then surveyed her School Dinner with
mistrust. Chips, disturbingly bright green mushy peas and a fishcake
followed by a donut with a blob of something green on top that looked
like washing-up liquid. Miss Tyler the dinner lady had glared at her
so hard she’d thought she was going to attack her with her ladle when
she’d asked hopefully for a salad.
“You ask me for a salad *every single day*,” Miss Tyler had said
darkly. “Every single flipping day. And has there ever been one?
Has there ever been anything except chips and stuff?”
Polly had shaken her head. “I think there was a chicken pie once.
She reflected that Miss Tyler seemed an unlikely sort of dinner lady –
much too young and attractive and bright to be dishing up unappetising
school meals. Not of course, she amended, not wanting to be
unpleasant even inwardly, that she was implying that dinner ladies
were old or stupid or ugly. Oh -. She sighed and ate a chip.
“What did you think of that English question?” asked Dodo. “I thought
it was a bit of a stinker, but Ben helped me with it.”
Polly widened her eyes in surprise. “He did? But he doesn’t even
“Yes, but it’s always useful to have someone to talk to,” she said
cheerily. Polly thought she sounded smug, but then she was biased.
“Was Patrick helping you?”
“In a way.”
Dodo coughed. “Polly, you’re not going out with him, are you?
Because everyone keeps asking me today -.”
“Of course not!” she said.
Her friend looked relieved. “Oh, good. I mean, I know you two are
friends and all that, but you’d never know whether he was going to
kiss you or throw disappearing ink down your top.”
“Knowing Pat,” said Polly, “it’d probably be something worse than
But she did have an idea. One of her philosophies in life was when in
trouble, try flirting your way out. It worked surprisingly often.
And she had a perfect victim already lined up. (Not, of course, *the*
Perfect Victim, because she thought he was distinctly sexist and
slightly creepy with it).
Then she saw Ben coming, so she hastily ate another chip and then
muttered something about needing the library. If she had to sit
opposite Dodo and Ben *and* eat school dinners, she would probably
throw up and nobody ever appreciated that sort of thing.
Rose Tyler glared at the smaller version of herself, who was being
picky about which chips she wanted and refusing to have any mushy
peas. Great. Absolutely great. The one thing she never wanted to
have to do again and here she was, stuck with it, day in day out. And
since when had she been such a brat? She wondered if she could
complain to someone about misrepresentation outside of reality, but
“Miss Tyler,” said Susan, pushing in gently. “I’m so sorry to bother
you, but we need some more pepper for our table.”
Little Rose glowered at her. “I was here first.”
“Here,” said Miss Tyler quickly and passed her the pepper. “Right,
now tell me again. You want some of the thin chips, no peas and you
don’t like fishcake?”
“And what’s that supposed to be on top of the donut?” asked Jackie.
“Looks like washing up liquid to me. Urgh.”
The word spread down the queue that Miss Tyler had gone mad and put
washing-up liquid on the donuts to poison them all. Everyone refused
to have any pudding and Mickey started crying.
Miss Tyler silently prayed for aliens to come and devour the lot of
6. Don’t flirt or tease. It’s not kind.
“Algy,” said Polly, batting her long, dark eyelashes. “You will sit
next to me in history, won’t you, Algy *darling*?”
Algernon ffinch swallowed. “Er – um -.”
“I promise I’ll protect you from Jamie,” she added.
That sounded like a bargain. “Oh, very well. Not, of course, that I
am afraid of the ignorant Highlander.”
“I don’t think you should call him that,” she said carefully. “He
seems to be doing better in history than you.”
“That’s a lie. I fell asleep during the last test we had -.”
She took his hand. “Well, never mind, Algy *dearest*. It’ll be a
good opportunity for you to ask me to the dance.”
“Dance?” he said in some alarm.
Polly shrugged. “I’m going to be arranging one soon. Something
modern and with-it. My friend Kitty will sort it out for me.”
“You did say Kitty and not Kirsty, didn’t you?” he asked nervously.
“I’m not coming if she is there.”
She shook her head at him in mock-amusement. “You can’t fool me, Algy
ffinch. I know you’re as brave as a lion!”
After she had gone he heaved a gloomy sigh and thought about running
5. Trying to fight stories gets you nowhere.
There were rules they lived by and breaking the one about how to
behave to one’s best friend would relegate Polly to being a Bad
Character. It might start with being mean to Dodo, but it would
probably end up with being some sort of evil empress trying to rule
Which might be fun, she thought wistfully, but she knew it wasn’t for
No, decided Polly, flirting with the unfortunate Algernon ffinch was
as far as she was going. If it got her even the smallest, tiniest bit
of attention that might be construed as jealousy from Ben, then she
might have consider whether there was anything that could be done and
if it didn’t, she would have to get on with her work and stop being
And she would not, whatever else she did, give in to her sudden desire
to hit Dodo with one of her history books. She *would not*. It would
be unkind and unfair.
“So," said Pat, “what have we come up with so far?”
Jamie thought. “I’ll steal Dodo from Ben and -.”
“That’s no good,” his friend said. “I told you, Polly will do
something horrible if she finds either of us getting directly
involved. We’ve got to be sneaky and subtle.”
He took this in. “Aye. Subtle. If I steal Dodo from Ben when Polly
isn’t looking -?”
Patrick sighed. “Jamie, do we have to go back over the meaning of
“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
“Hmm,” he reflected. “That *is* true. All the same -.”
Jamie continued. “We could drop something heavy on Dodo. That should
“That’s *not* subtle,” Patrick protested. “It’s not terribly nice,
either. Besides, most of the really heavy bits and pieces are fixed
to the floor. I can’t imagine why…”
Jamie frowned, thinking it over hard.
“Maybe we’ll have to let her sort this one out herself,” Pat
Jamie shook his head and smiled at him. “No. I know exactly what we
“Now, Jamie -.”
He told him his idea.
Jamie,” said Patrick in surprise and glee, “I do believe you’ve hit
upon the very thing!”
“Polly,” said a plaintive voice from somewhere above her as she
entered the girls’ dormitory. That came as a slight surprise, because
she’d been at a sixth form college at the beginning of the morning,
but this sort of thing did happen from time to time. “Polly, please
Pushing minor existential worries about boarding schools aside, she
stared about the room, eventually finding Vicki on top of the
“What are you doing up there?”
Vicki made a face. “Trying to get down, but I seem to have caught my
dress on something. I’m well and truly hooked.”
Polly pulled a chair over and, mounting it, set about freeing her
“Thank you,” said Vicki brightly and slipped down nimbly. “That’s the
last time I try that game of getting around the room without touching
It was only after the other girl had left that Polly realised that
that was no explanation at all. No one played that game alone. Bill
was right – Vicki and Susan were up to something.
Jamie explained everything to Zoe, who was frowning.
“Why are you telling me this?”
He said innocently, “Pat said that you should know, but o’course,
you’re not to do *anything at all* to interfere. We wouldn’t want
that, would we?”
“He said that?” she asked, her eyes darkening. “Why does he think I
“No, no, he said you’re *not* to…”
She had gone. Jamie grinned widely to himself and strode off in the
opposite direction. Sometimes he could be subtle. If the school
offered courses in How to Annoy Girls, he’d be the best student in the