4. Never Rely on Others to Do Your Work For You
Polly leant against the wall at the school dance that she had
organised and sighed. That rat, Algy ffinch had disappeared and was
nowhere to be seen, so the only plan she had managed to think of was
completely wasted now. And it had made her look sad and lonely, which
was not what she had intended.
Worse and worse, Dodo had taken pity on her and kindly instructed Ben
to dance with her. She had excused herself with a bright smile and
said something about needing to help Kitty.
Kirsty appeared at her side while she tried to find Kitty. “Have you
seen that Redcoat?”
“No,” said Polly, “but when he does turn up, you can set Jamie on him
She glanced around. “I’ve not seen McCrimmon here tonight.”
“Oh no,” she said, suspecting trouble.
Vicki and Susan were whispering and giggling together in the corner.
Bill gave them suspicious looks, but when he approached them, they
claimed to be playing spot the difference with the doubles and twins
in their year.
“Hmph,” said Bill, who didn’t believe a word of it.
“Everything’s gone wrong,” Polly told Kitty, when she finally found
her, selecting records with a thoughtful look on her face.
Kitty patted her arm. “Never mind. It’s turning out to be a fun
evening for everyone else. Nice work, Polly.”
“Have you seen Jamie?” asked Patrick, making her jump violently.
She swung round. “No, I haven’t. You mean you don’t know what he’s
up to, then?”
“No.” He looked put out.
Polly gave a sigh of relief. “Oh, well, that’s all right then. He’ll
just be somewhere with Victoria. Or Zoe. Or Samantha. Or even
Gwendoline. Patrick, will *you* dance with me?”
“Of course,” he said immediately and took her hand.
Moments later, she gave him a stern look. “*Not* a jig! Or the hokey
cokey, or whatever else you’re planning.”
“All right,” he said. “I promise. Is everything still as bad?”
She nodded, but made herself smile. “I shall simply have to forget
all this silliness, won’t I? There are lots of other boys in the
“Yes,” he said enthusiastically. “Why, there’s -. Well. Um.
Polly screwed up her nose. “I’d rather not have to wait in line,
thank you. Contrary to popular belief there are some girls in this
school who really aren’t interested in whatever he might or not have
under his kilt.”
“No. And anyway, I think he’s taken, too.”
He thought hard. “I suppose there is me. And Bill.”
“I am not going out with Bill!”
Pat was struck by that. “Oh. So you would go out with me?”
“Well,” said Polly and then said kindly, “if things got desperate, I
suppose I could.”
He was thinking again.
“And I don’t want to go out with anything blobby or robotic,” she said
before he could suggest she try and patch things up with a Cyberman.
“Not, of course, that I need to go out with anyone at all!”
Zoe arrived at the school dance late, as she had been in the library,
using the computers. Jamie and Patrick would soon have to eat their
words, she thought smugly.
She walked in to be greeted by a worried looking Victoria. “Have you
“No,” she said, slightly annoyed. “Why would you think I know where
Blonde Gwendoline, who was the only one still wearing school uniform
came up and sobbed incoherently at them.
Victoria looked at Zoe in alarm. Zoe shrugged. Victoria patted
Gwendoline on the shoulder. “There, there.”
She pulled out a handkerchief and blew her nose loudly.
“Are you sure Jamie isn’t here?” said Zoe to Victoria in
Polly pulled Patrick off the dance floor. “Will you stop it? I don’t
want to be set up on some blind date, thank you!”
“But you said-.”
She sighed. “Did I? I don’t think I did. And anyway, it really
doesn’t matter. I shall stop being silly as soon as I can. In the
meantime, all the other boys in the class are all very well, but the
problem is that none of them are Ben. So please, stop.”
“Polly doesn’t seem to be herself,” observed Dodo, her forehead
wrinkling as she watched her friend. “And she said she wasn’t going
out with Patrick, but now -.”
Ben glanced at her. “Well, what’s wrong with that?”
“Oh, but you know what he’s like,” she said and shook her head. “I
told her not to. Ben, are you listening?”
He turned back to her, after staring about the hall. “Yeah. Just
that it’s not like Jamie to miss out on something like this – and all
his usual birds are here.”
3. It’s Great to Be a Girl (well, if it weren’t for all those Annoying
Polly decided to do something drastic and go home. This dance was
nothing like she had planned and she had had quite enough for one
Halfway to the door, she ran into Gwendoline. Before she could so
much as say hello, the other girl glared at her and stamped her foot.
“I hate you!”
“Why?” asked Polly in mystification.
Gwendoline’s answer was lost in tears and sniffs.
“Oh, dear,” she sighed. “Let me guess. It’s probably to do with some
boy, isn’t it?”
She shook her head. “You’re mean.”
It was so unfair when she had been trying her hardest to be nice to
everyone. She should have known by now that it never worked. “I
haven’t done anything. Now, why don’t you come to the girls’ loos
with me and we’ll get you cleaned up. You look a mess, you know.
It’s a shame to spoil a pretty face like that.”
Gwendoline let her lead her away.
Half an hour later, Polly was teaching her to apply mascara in the
bathroom. “And you’ve *never* worn make-up before?”
The boarding school stereotype shook her head. “It’s not allowed.”
“Thankfully,” said Polly, “that’s one rule we don’t have here. Well,
unless we do now, because we seem to be a boarding school this week.”
Gwendoline blinked her new long, dark lashes as she stared into the
mirror. “I look so grown-up.”
“We’re eighteen, or nearly,” said Polly. “It is time, isn’t it?”
She said shyly, “I’m sorry I was mean to you. Are you – are you
really going out with Patrick?”
“No,” said Polly. “Not unless everything goes terribly wrong.”
She rubbed her eyes and then looked at the black smear on her hands.
“I can see that this might take some getting used to,” she observed.
“Hmm. Perhaps a different shade of lipstick?”
Back in the girls’ dormitory, Victoria climbed into bed only to let
out a piercing shriek.
Everyone else put their hands over their ears and glared at her.
“Victoria, must you?” said Gia. Then she lifted her own covers and
said, “Oh. Very humorous.”
“Eurgh!” said Victoria, looking over her shoulder. “Is that -?”
Samantha shook her head. “Fake dog poo? Yeah, looks like it.”
Zoe was already sitting in her bed. “What is going on?”
Polly brushed her hair, trying to ignore them all, when she noticed
that Dodo was staring at her with her mouth open. She put the brush
down carefully, reminding herself in time that throwing it at her best
friend would undo all her good resolutions.
“Your hair!” said Dodo, still doing her best goldfish impression.
Victoria wiped away tears. “Who put a hairbrush in my bed? Why would
someone do something so unkind?”
Polly moved to the mirror and stared in horror to see that she now had
green and purple streaks in her hair.
Dodo pulled back her own covers hastily. “Nobody’s done anything to
me –oh. Ah-choo!”
Gia leant over her shoulder. “Pepper. This is another of those
“I don’t understand it,” said Zoe from her bunk bed. “Nothing’s
happened to me.”
Victoria brandished her hairbrush. “Gwendoline, this is your sort of
thing, isn’t it?”
“It wasn’t me,” said Gwendoline, her bottom lip wobbling alarmingly.
She flung back her bed covers and pulled out her own hairbrush.
“See. It’s happened to me, too!”
Polly put an arm around her. “Of course you wouldn’t do something
like this. We have to think about who would.”
Gia looked between her bed and Gemma’s, following a length of cotton.
“Someone’s tied our sheets together!”
“Am I the only one who hasn’t had a trick played on me?” asked Zoe,
leaning out to peer under her bed suspiciously. “Why have they left
Dodo blew her nose.
Outside the door, Vicki and Susan listened in glee to the results of
“I told you that apple-pie bed would be wasted on Zoe,” said Susan, as
Zoe wondered aloud again why she had been excluded from the prank.
Vicki made no reply, since Polly wrenched the door open and caught
hold of her by the ear. “Well! And what are we going to do with
these two, everyone?”
“Oh, Polly,” said Victoria reproachfully, “we can’t decide just like
that. We’ll have to think about it – and maybe ask Patrick and Jamie
for advice. Once we’ve come up with something horrible enough, then
Zoe frowned. “But I don’t understand why you didn’t do anything to
me. It doesn’t make sense.”
Vicki and Susan looked at each other and broke down into helpless,
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” complained Zoe, lying doing. She
decided to ignore them and go to sleep, but it sounded as if they
found that inexplicably hilarious.
2. Sometimes You Just Have to Smile (crying never works)
In the morning, Polly sat down at her desk and awaited the start of
the English lesson. She was never quite top of the class, but she
didn’t do too badly at English and she was learning shorthand out of
hours, hoping to be a secretary.
Miss Wright entered and looked round at the class. Polly wished that
she would stop teaching this class. She was a good teacher, but she
seemed to find the presence of the younger Barbara extremely
irritating. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to move classrooms,
everyone. The new caretaker is going to carry out some work on the
boiler. Ah – here he is. Has everyone met Mr Jackson?”
It was Polly’s turn to try imitating a goldfish.
“But it’s wonderful!” said Pat when she told him. “You can go out
with him instead and all your problems are solved.”
Polly glared at him. “No! It doesn’t work like that. If this is
your fault, I shall scream at you. No, I’ll make Victoria scream at
you and then I shall – oh, I don’t know – I shall cut your hair or
“I don’t know anything about it,” he muttered shiftily. “But, Polly,
if you’re eighteen and he’s not all that much older than you and -.”
She folded her arms. “It’s still Wrong. It’s against the real
rules. He’d get fired. Besides, he probably wouldn’t *want* to go
out with a student. Now I have two things getting in the way of
trying not to think about Ben.”
“I should have known not to listen to Jamie,” said Patrick ruefully.
“Ow!” said Jamie. “Let go of me – Polly, have you lost your mind?”
She stopped pulling his hair. “Why did you think it would be funny to
have the grown-up Ben here?”
He swallowed at her fierce look. “I didnae – it was Zoe’s idea!”
“And where were you last night?” she asked as an afterthought.
He winked at her.
“Jamie. Where were you?”
He sighed. “I saw Vicki and Susan up to something in your dorm – and
then they locked me in the cupboard so I wouldn’t tell.”
“Oh, dear,” said Polly. “If they do anything else, I suppose we
*will* have to tell Ian and Barbara. Zoe, you say?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Zoe wide-eyed.
Polly stared back at her, trying to decide whether to believe her or
not. “Jamie said -.”
She put her little nose in the air. “Oh, well, if you’re going to
believe everything that *Jamie* says -.”
It wasn’t funny, thought Polly. It just wasn’t funny at all.
Which was exactly what Ben Jackson was saying in the staffroom.
“Tell me about it,” muttered Rose. “I don’t like being a dinner lady,
but nobody bothered to *ask*, did they? No, just thought it’d be
funny and shoved it in a story and here I am, dishing out chips all
Fitz grunted. “Hah. At least you’re supposed to be new, Ben. You’ll
get shown the ropes. The rest of us had freaky new memories and get
sneered at when we can’t get them straight. And then find there are
already too many PE teachers as it is.”
“Someone’s made you be a dinner lady?” said Ben to Rose, ignoring
Fitz’s complaints. “That’s just not right. Mind you, I bet you’re a
better dinner lady than I’ll be as a handyman. Made a right mess of
the boiler, earlier. I thought that Miss Wright was going to kill
She tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “Oh, you don’t
want to worry about her. She gives you any trouble, I’ll just tell
her all the puddings have gone when she comes in.”
“Fine,” said Fitz, as they walked off down the corridor. “Pretend I’m
not here. I don’t mind. It’s not as if I was talking to her first or
Rumours raced round the school, as always – usually having done a
complete circuit before the teller had even finished the sentence and
come back with ribbons on.
“Did you hear? Polly’s going out with Patrick and she and Gwendoline
had a stand up fight at the dance and Polly nearly killed Gwendoline
and now she’s got two black eyes and Jamie’s going out with Vicki
*and* Susan at the same time.” Peri finished only to breathe.
“*I* heard that new caretaker’s part of a criminal gang and he’s
working with Miss Tyler to rob the school of its priceless artefacts.”
Everyone glared at Mel.
“The blackboard of Rassilon?” she countered hopefully.
“I thought he was just going out with her. She saved him a donut with
strawberry jam. I saw. If they get married, do you think they’ll let
us be bridesmaids?”
“Hah,” said Colin Doctor. “I said she was trying to poison us with
washing up liquid. That proves it.”
Peri frowned. “Don’t be silly.”
“The blackboard of Rassilon?” he said abruptly, rounding on Mel. “You
made that up!”
“I’m sorry, Polly,” said Patrick, in earnest for once. “We were only
trying to help.”
She banged her head against her desk.
“I’ll buy you some sherbet,” he tried. “Or I could play you a tune on
She let out a sob.
“Chocolate?” he tried. “I hear that’s supposed to work wonders.”
Polly sat up and said, “No, no. I’m fine. This is all my silliness,
isn’t it? I shall go out with – um, who did you say there was again?”
“Oh,” he said in sudden alarm. “I think we decided on me.”
She laughed at his expression. “I won’t make you. Since we seem to
be in a boarding school for the moment, let’s use Sixth Form privilege
and go out and find a surviving Starbucks.”
“Splendid,” he said. “Can we blow it up on the way out?”
Polly slipped her arm through his. “If you want to, I don’t see why
Bill caught Vicki and Susan and sternly demanded to know what they had
been up to.
Once they told him, he fell started chuckling. “She didn’t even
notice you’d given her an apple-pie bed?”
“No,” said Vicki, stuffing her hands over her mouth in an effort not
He remembered himself and wagged a finger at them both. “Of course,
you won’t do anything like that again, will you?”
“No,” promised Susan. “We have to clean their dorm for a week, or
they’ll go to Ian and Barbara.”
Vicki had a faraway look in her eyes. “It’s amazing what people write
in their diaries, though.”
Bill and Susan both turned to stare at her.
“Young lady,” said Bill firmly, “I shall pretend I didn’t hear that.”
Vicki made a face. “It *fell* open,” she muttered under her breath.
“I could hardly *not* read it.”
He shook his head. “No good ever comes to nosy parkers, you know.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “But I bet none of you knew that
Polly was in love with Ben!”
The three of them only noticed Dodo when they heard the thud behind
them as she fainted onto the floor.
Polly and Patrick surveyed the wreckage of the Starbucks.
“It’s a metaphor for my life,” she decided, pulling a face.
He stared back at the smoking remains. (They had, of course, warned
everyone to run for it before they blew it up. There was nothing Pat
liked better, after all.) “I shouldn’t think so for a minute.”
They both headed back for school, only to meet Dodo on the way. A
tragic expression was etched across her face as she looked at Polly.
“How *could* you?” she burst out furiously. “I thought you were me
Patrick gulped. “On the other hand, of course -.”
The only comfort, thought Polly, was that she was certain someone
would kill her if she asked. In fact, they'd probably line up to do
the deed. Visions of a tearful school assembly filled her mind before
she decided that the only decent thing to do was take the trouble as
it came and try and make it up to Dodo.
Being nice was such a nuisance.
1. Don’t fall in love. Ever. No, really. Don’t.
This Time Round was created by Tyler Dion. Then Do That Over by Paul
BBC is copyright of the BBC and BBC Wales. Gwendoline is mostly down
to Enid Blyton.