It's never a good idea to start by apologising, but I just really
wanted to write a romance with a happy ending & where else are you
going to find that but one of those sappy teen romances? And then I
remembered the High School, all full of teenagers...
The apology is because in my musing over school stories (by rights the
British version of H G Wells really should be some weird, mysterious
boarding school, you do know that?) and discovering that the 'proper'
years for the British version correspond to no actual UK school years
that I may have taken slight liberties. Plus, I *still* can't do non-
Then Do That Over: Redefinition
Alistair just wants to ask out the quiet girl in the corner, but when
a typical fluffy (US) High School romance storyline is attempted at
(British-side) H. G. Wells, things start to get *really* weird. With
sundry Autons, amorphous grey blobs and too much homework, but
absolutely no dates of any sort. Oh, and Jo Grant fails General
Science at A-Level while Zoe gets an new admirer.
If Alistair had known that his plan to ask out Elizabeth Shaw would
not run as follows:
a) Find out more about Liz
b) Get Jon Doctor out of the way
c) Ask her out
but would, in fact involve trouble even getting from a to b and never
actually reach c, he probably would have gone ahead anyway, since he
wasn't one to give up easily, but he might have thought twice about it
The week began with an announcement from Assistant Head Mr Maxil that,
in line with requests from disturbed inhabitants of Nameless, who
still had some things that they baulked at, the school uniform,
British side at least, would be traditional white blouse or shirt and
grey skirt or trousers, plus tie and blazer with embroidered TARDIS
emblem. They could wear whatever nonsense they chose when States-
side, of course, but the combined tastelessness over here was giving
This, he explained, was due to the fact, that there were some things
the current author absolutely refused to picture when writing the
story and they would have to put up with it for the duration or be
sued for final and irrevocable loss of sanity, which the school budget
did not run to, particularly not after they'd had to replace 100
windows only last week.
Most of the school seemed to be fairly relieved at the prospect,
although less so when Maxil ruminated on the possibility of getting
them some kind of hat with different coloured feathers to distinguish
the various years...
It didn't concern the Sixth Form / Year 12 / Year Eight / Whatever,
who had the privilege of wearing their own clothes in any case, so
Elizabeth Shaw spent the assembly thinking. For once, there were no
complicated formulas running through her head. Instead, she was
beginning to feel fed up.
Why did she have to spend her whole life studying? Who decided that?
She thought that it must have been her somewhere along the line, but
it was hard to tell. This school year was barely halfway over and it
seemed to have been going on for an infinity at least.
Currently, she was coaching some of the slower members of her year in
maths (Harry), science (Jo), and English Literature (Harry), doing
science homework for almost everyone in the same class and taking an
extra A Level. (Or extra two AS Levels, depending on exactly how up-
to-date H G Wells wants to be). Plus, she had to attend Oxbridge
meetings every month, where Barbara Wright told them how impossible it
was to get into either Oxford or Cambridge, unless some mad lecturer
took a liking to you at the interview.
Liz was bright, enjoyed her work and planned to continue studying
physics at university, but even so, she was beginning to feel
rebellious. The others left her out when it came to social events.
They had got too used to dumping their homework on her and having
their invitations refused on revision grounds. Well, she was going to
change, she thought, and they had better watch out!
She walked down the corridor, heading for the library, still lost in
her decision. Yes, she would finally get her hair cut and probably
start wearing skirts as short as Jo's and -.
Liz and Alistair walked into each other, Liz's folder and pens falling
over the corridor.
"So sorry," he said and helped her pick them up, as she blushed with
Watching, Tara turned to Dr Holloway. "It looks as though someone's
committing cliché. Should we do something?"
"What?" said Grace, who was busy. "Leave them. It's cuter than the
usual, that's for sure. As long as there's no mess for me to deal
Tara chewed her lip, but realised that David Doctor and his class were
waiting for her lesson and if the most hyperactive and youngest Doctor
hadn't taken his medication this morning, there was no telling what
she might find, but it would almost certainly involve calling on
Grace, who wouldn't be appreciative.
Still, she thought, it was an oddly conventional storyline for H. G.
Wells. What was more, as she knew from her own experience, it was a
distinctly US storyline and last time she'd looked anyhow they'd been
in the British version.
But what could she do?
"So why didn't you come with everyone to the party last week?"
Alistair asked. "I was looking for you and you weren't there. You
weren't there last month, either."
Liz clutched at her folder and blushed again. "I'm surprised you
noticed," she said, and, to her dismay, it came out far more acidly
than she had intended.
Luckily, he didn't take fright, but only started walking beside her
along the corridor. "Well, I only started going recently and I was
hoping you'd be there."
"Oh," said Liz, breathlessly. Inwardly, she was cursing herself. She
had the highest IQ of anyone in this year, barring the Doctor
brothers, who were geniuses and she often topped them in the class
lists, since both had spates of truancy and / or refusing to work.
She should be able to talk to a boy, especially Alistair, who she'd
always thought was not as bad as the rest. However, she suddenly
found that this wasn't the case.
He looked across at her curiously. "So what is it you do instead?"
"Homework," she said with a sigh.
"But you must be able to whiz through most of that stuff in an hour or
"Yes," she agreed wryly. "That's the problem. I've always been able
to get on quickly, so I've been doing a lot of other people's homework
He stopped abruptly, causing a passing Year 6 / Top Junior / Year One
to fall over with a squeak. "Whose homework, exactly?" he asked.
"Well," she began and then thought that he had a point. She rather
liked that he looked annoyed on her behalf, even though she of course,
did not need anyone to do so. "Um, I've always done it," she finished
lamely. "How do you think Jo passed her science GCSE / O-Level?"
"I see," was all he said, and walked off, leaving her wondering
anxiously if her encouragement of such dishonesty had given him a
sudden disgust at her behaviour. Then she frowned. There was a
problem now. She would have to leave her hair and clothes as they
were, or he might - horror of horrors - think that she was doing it
because she *liked* him.
Alistair chose the hour when Liz was doing her remedial coaching with
Harry Sullivan and gathered the tutor group together.
"What is this about?" demanded Jon Doctor impatiently. "Roger and I
have fencing lessons in quarter of an hour, so you'd better be quick!"
He folded his arms. "Look, I want to know how many of you give
Elizabeth Shaw your science homework every week."
"What?" said Jon, as everyone else in the class barring him, Roger and
Alistair, put up their hands. He stared around. "Well, really!"
Jo opened her eyes wide. "I had to!"
"Why?" he asked.
She blushed and looked down. "I'll explain when they've gone for
their fencing lessons."
Cliff Jones flicked a ball of paper off his ruler, hitting her. She
let out a small squeal.
"You are so lame," she told him and stuck her nose in the air.
"Anyone would think you were twelve."
He grinned widely. "Aye, but at least I know that a Thesaurus isn't a
carnivorous dinosaur, dimwit."
"Ooh," said Jo furiously. "That was a joke!"
Alistair glared at Mike and Benton, who, he thought, should certainly
have known better. "Right, well, it's got to stop! The poor girl
doesn't have any time to herself. If I catch any of you doing it
again, you'll have to answer to me!"
"And me," added Jon, taking over as always. He shook his head. "I
had no idea that such corruption was going on all around us."
Everyone else glared at him.
"Is Liz upset?" asked Jo in concern. "I didn't know she was doing
everyone's homework. I just had to get into A-Level science!"
He sat on the table and looked at her. "Why?"
She sighed. "Well, I have to be with Jon Doctor. And I'm in the
lower set for almost everything else - and when Liz helps me with the
science, I can keep being his lab partner and hold his test tubes for
him." She leaned in conspiratorially, "And I can keep an eye on what
Roger Master is up to. It's bad enough the rest of the time, but all
those weird experiments - someone has to look after Jon."
Alistair patted her head. No one could be angry at Josephine Grant
for long. He only smiled and suggested that she try asking Jon for
help next time, rather than Liz, who was obviously being stretched
beyond her limits.
"You like her, don't you?" said Jo with a wicked twinkle in her eye.
"I think she likes you, too!"
He coloured. "What makes you say that?"
"Aha," she said and tapped her nose. "I just know!"
Tuesday brought more surprises. Alistair's announcement had
unfortunately had an unintended effect, besides no one hurrying over
to dump their latest science homework in Liz's lap.
Alistair walked over to his usual seat, next to Jon and decided that
it was obviously too soon to ask her out and that he should wait till
Wednesday. Or Thursday. Then he glanced across at her, only to see
that an unconvincing shop dummy was sitting in her seat. It turned
and its hand dropped in half -.
"Get down everyone!" he yelled and, used to this kind of thing, they
all flung themselves under their respective tables.
The lesson being English, Borusa merely sighed and shook his head at
the Auton, which immediately hung its head and drooped over the table.
"All right, what's happened to Liz?" demanded Alistair of the rest,
once they had finished the lesson. Nobody stopped Borusa's lessons
for anything, even his frequent regeneration changes. (And as for his
law classes - well, at this stage, these were optional and only Jon,
Tom and Roger were left, aside from Leela, who had chosen her A-Levels
Roger laughed to himself and abseiled out of the nearest window.
"I take it we know who's responsible, then," said Alistair, who did
wish that the Masters and the Doctors could keep their feud to
themselves. However, being Jon's other best friend, often led to
Roger deciding that made him a legitimate target. After last night's
intervention, he'd obviously reached the same conclusion as Jo and
extended that to Liz.
Jon said, "Hurry - we need to find her!"
"I'm coming," announced Jo.
Alistair turned to tell her that she was a girl, so she should stay
here and keep out of trouble, but she fixed him with a determined
stare and said, "And don't try and tell me I'm a girl and should stay
here and keep out of trouble, because that's kind of the point."
She nodded, both of them watching her. Then she laughed. "Well, come
on - who does the Master *usually* kidnap? And so who knows where all
his little hidey-holes are?"
"Of course," said Jon, speeding off with Jo close behind him. "You're
right. He's probably just locked her in the cleaner's cupboard
"Or the stationery cupboard," suggested Jo. "Or that funny little
shed in the garden. Or -."
And that was that. There was little point in running after them,
since he wasn't getting any chance to be the heroic rescuer if Jo and
Jon had got there first. And it would have been such a perfect
"Have I got this right?" asked Roger Master later, slightly taken
aback. "You want me to lock Elizabeth Shaw in the stationery cupboard
again, but this time only to let *you* know...?"
This was a really bad idea, he knew, but it was too tempting. After
all, Roger would probably have done it without being asked. "Yes, but
hurt her in any way and I'll beat you over the head with a cricket
They were both busy to see the grey blob that was slowly appearing on
the filing cabinet behind them.
Alistair unlocked the cupboard only to be hit over the head with a
In Dr Holloway's room, Liz leant against the wall and said crossly,
"Well, I thought it was Roger Master coming back!"
He put a hand to the lump on his head that he supposed he deserved if
she had only known it. "Why? You didn't attack Jo and the Doctor
yesterday when they rescued you!"
"Yes, but I could hear them coming a mile off," she explained. "'Liz,
are you all right in there?' and 'Oh, Doctor be careful!' and 'I'll
just use my sonic screwdriver on this lock and we'll have you out in a
He folded his arms. "So I should have announced that it was me?"
"Yes," she told him. "So what will you do next time?"
"Leave you in there?"
Liz left the room at a run, in tears. First she thought she'd killed
him and then he was angry with her for trying to kill him. She had
ruined everything and -.
She stopped, bumping into two strange girls. One was blonde, thin and
beautiful and the other was a beautiful, thin, brunette. Both were
tall enough to look down on her and neither seemed quite real,
although she could not have said why.
"Oh, here she is," said the blonde, in an American accent. "The geek
who thinks she's good enough for *him*!"
Liz blinked in confusion. "Are you new here?" They almost never got
new pupils in Sixth Form / Year 12. And why were they so ...plastic?
And not in a way that suggested anything to do with the Nestene
Consciousness. What was a geek, anyway?
The brunette giggled. "Yeah," she agreed. "Who are you kidding?"
"And what are you wearing?" added the blonde. "I thought I must be
seeing things, but you've really got your hair in a plait, haven't
The brunette nudged her friend. "Is that your grandmother's outfit?"
"He's *never* going to ask you out, weirdo," said the first. "As if!"
Liz was already upset and finding two unnaturally perfect girls who
wanted to tell her what she already knew as spitefully as possible was
the last straw. She did what any other seventeen year-old girl would
have done, whatever their IQ, and ran for the girls' loos to cry her
Behind her, the newcomers looked suddenly a fraction more real.
Once Dr Holloway was satisfied that no real damage had been done
("Well, no more than usual round here...") she let him go and he ran
into the two girls, still in the hallway.
He stopped, surprised to find someone unfamiliar in the Sixth Form /
Year 12 / Whatever, but said, "Excuse me, but have you seen Liz Shaw
come this way?"
The brown-haired girl gave a giggle. "Oh, you don't want *her*," she
said, as her blonde friend put a hand on his shoulder.
He backed away in alarm. "Get off me! Now, who exactly are you? Are
They both opened their mouths in surprise and two grey blobs floated
in the air for a moment before vanishing.
"I'll take that as a yes," said Alistair. "Have they done something
He decided that he had better tell Jon at once. Weird was the order
of the day at H. G. Wells, but this was something new.
"Look," said Jon Doctor, who was coaching Jo at chemistry and tearing
his hair out and not prepared to pay him any attention, "you've got to
get over this ridiculous prejudice against aliens. Everyone's got a
right to exist you know, especially here."
He tried Tom Doctor next, who was being interviewed by Sarah and Harry
regarding his unconventional intervention at the last sporting event.
"So there I was, in goal -."
Harry coughed. "Doctor, it was a *rugby* match!"
"Ah," he said, "so that was where I went wrong... You know, that
explains a lot!"
Alistair backed out of the door. He'd better sort it out himself, but
he needed the help of the cleverest human he knew - and unfortunately,
he'd managed to upset her about an hour ago...
"Elizabeth," he said, finally discovering her in the library. "I need
to talk to you."
She kept her head down, determined not to let him see that her eyes
were still slightly red from crying. "Well, I don't want to talk to
"I'm sorry," he said, sitting beside her. "Listen, Liz. This is
really important - and I've got an idea!"
Liz looked up cautiously.
"So," she said, a few minutes later in an empty classroom, "those two
girls really weren't human. What were they?"
He shrugged. "They turned back into these grey blobby things when I
spoke to them - and then they vanished. But there was something I
didn't like about them."
"I didn't like *anything* about them," said Liz vehemently and then
had a thought. She looked at him. "How's your head?"
He laughed. "Oh, it wasn't that bad."
"I was only wondering," she said innocently, but she decided that
Doctor Holloway might have noticed if he'd started hallucinating. "So
what do we do?"
Alistair sat on one of the tables. "Well, I thought we ought to form
an investigative agency and sort it out - you and me. What do you
"I'm not sure I'd have the time," she said.
He grinned at her. "Nonsense. You're getting a lot less homework
than you used to."
"Was that *you*?" she asked, suddenly shy again. "You did that for
He said, "Well, yes and no. It was partly for selfish reasons. I
think you ought to have some free time, or how am I ever going to get
a date with you?"
"Did you say-?" She had gone red again. This was so awkward.
"What do you think?"
She took a deep breath. "I don't know - it's all so sudden."
"No, about investigating this thing together," he reminded her.
Liz nodded. "We'd better. Whatever those things were, they don't
Things got weirder. While Liz and Alistair argued about what to call
their new investigative agency, more grey blobs appeared and
disappeared throughout the school and Liz found herself being
continually followed by interchangeably perfect American girls, who
had far too much to say about her clothes, her work and her chances
with Alistair. She ignored them, but they were forever hanging around
corridors with her, turning up in the toilets and sneering at her, or
hounding her out of the library. It was enough to drive a girl mad.
Alistair found a stranger - another oddly perfect American, a boy this
time - sitting next to him at the table, claiming to be his best
"I've never seen you before in my life," he said, pulled him out of
his chair. "I don't think you're real at all."
He punched him and 'Cooper' resumed life as a grey blob.
"We have got to do something about this!" fumed Liz. "How come you
can get rid of them and I seem to be stuck with them?"
He frowned. "I don't know. Perhaps you should try hitting them?"
"Violence isn't always the answer," she said piously.
Alistair raised an eyebrow. "That wasn't the impression you gave
yesterday when I tried to let you out of the cupboard!"
She flushed. "Oh."
"Yes," he said, grinning widely and caught hold of her teasingly. "So
don't preach at me. How about I hit them for you?"
Liz thought about it for a moment and then shook her head. "No, we
need to know why." She paused and then said, in a smaller voice.
"Um, you should let go of me now."
"I don't think I will," said Alistair and neither of them did much
more work on the alien invaders for a while.
"I've got an idea," said Liz, who was sitting at a table with notes
all around her. "I think I might be on the right track at last."
Alistair picked up a piece of paper and looked at it quizzically.
"What does this say?"
"That?" said Liz, swiping it off him. She glanced at it and swallowed
in sudden embarrassment. "Oh, that's not anything to do with this!"
She screwed up the notepaper and put it in her pocket hastily. "I
tried singing when they started on at me yesterday, mostly out of
desperation - and they vanished!"
He shook his head. "None of it makes any sense to me. I did try
asking Jon again, but he seems to think I've developed a prejudice
against grey-skinned aliens and he suggested I should see the
counsellor, not him. I think trying to get Jo through her A-Level is
proving rather taxing for him."
"Oh, dear!" she laughed, when there was a knock at the door.
Zoe Herriot, from the year above, poked her head round the door. Zoe
was one of the few students who might possibly be cleverer than Liz.
She was also chief pupil librarian here. "Is this Shaw
"Yes," said Liz swiftly and then gave Alistair a sidelong glance,
waiting for his reaction.
Alistair frowned. "What? Liz, I thought we agreed -."
"If we put your name on it as well, it sounds as if there are three of
us," she retorted. "I said yesterday and -."
Zoe coughed. "You're trying to find out about these amorphous grey
blobs, aren't you?"
"Yes," said Liz, recollecting herself, fun as arguing with Alistair
She said, "Well, I think we can help each other." She called back out
to the corridor to Jamie and then looked at the others. "It's time
you two met Gwendoline."
Mr Maxil announced at the weekly whole-school assembly that there
would be a special presentation this afternoon concerning the grey
blob infestation of the school, run by Elizabeth Shaw, Alistair
Lethbridge-Stewart and Zoe Herriot.
Monday afternoon, School Hall
Elizabeth Shaw got up from her chair and made her way onto the stage,
followed by the eyes of half the school. Over the weekend, she had
paid a visit to the town, lost her plait and bought a new skirt that
proved to the world she had knees, which she wasn't entirely sure was
a good thing.
Alistair switched on the OHP and Liz began.
"Everyone's been wondering what these strange grey blobs are. Well,
we've been investigating the matter - and we have the answer."
She glanced up at the slide of a small, grey blob, drawn in felt tip
by Alistair earlier. Perhaps they didn't really need illustrations,
but it had seemed like a good idea at the time.
"I'm going to explain the theory and Alistair will give us some ideas
on how to get rid of them." She paused. "The problem seems to be
that whatever we like to think, we are still science-fiction
characters - mostly - and just because we've been randomly placed in a
school setting, it doesn't mean that we fit into the school story
Everyone was looking bored. Thank goodness the more insane half of
the school had already declined to come to an extra lecture when they
could be outside causing chaos. Liz shuffled her notes, feeling
Someone had their hand up. She stopped, gratefully, and said, "Yes,
"Are you really going out with Alistair?" she asked, reporter's
notebook in hand.
Liz blushed yet again. This teenage romance thing was hard work.
But, actually, that was the lead in she needed.
She smiled graciously at Sarah. "That's part of what happened. The
current story tried to play out along a typical US High School
storyline, but we don't have some of the stock characters required to
do that and it created small holes. These then leaked energy that
manifested themselves as these amorphous grey blobs and then as the
"We've called them Generic School Characters or GSC's and they're a
complete nuisance. Alistair and I were being followed around by US
High School GSCs, but Zoe has had an encounter with a British GSC, so
be on your guard if you run into any oddly enthusiastic younger pupils
who want to plan a midnight feast."
The entirety of Year 6 / Year One / Top Juniors present turned to look
at David Doctor, who sulked.
"You see, our typical stories revolve around -," she faltered,
suddenly realising that she was attempting to describe the
indescribable, "well, generally bizarre events and not the New Girl or
Boy, which is what all types of school stories tend to use as a
Charley, who'd recently had an abrupt promotion to Colin Doctor's
year, said, "Oh." Suddenly, a lot of very odd things made sense...
Liz saw that everyone's eyes were glazing over and that she had better
ditch her essay on genres and stereotypes.
"And now Alistair will tell you what you can do to get rid of them,"
she said hastily and left the stage, shaking at the ordeal.
Alistair took her place now and she manned the OHP. To her annoyance,
he didn't look in the least bit nervous.
"Now we've established what these GSC's are and where they come from,
but I'm sure what you all want to know is: how do we actually get rid
of the wretched things?"
Bill Doctor stood up. "Hitting them over the head with a spade works
wonders, I can tell you."
"Thank you, Bill," said Alistair. "However, Liz th - er, *we* -
thought that something less drastic might be better. Firstly, we
found that reacting as the characters expected strengthened the GSCs.
If you're being bullied by some mean students, the last thing you
should do is get upset or angry."
Liz put up a cartoon drawing of a crying stick girl being laughed at
by a group of stick people. Then she put it up the right way round.
"That sort of thing gives them more of a foothold. The trick is to do
something that a Generic School Character would not be expecting as
part of a typical school storyline. It doesn't matter whether it's
singing, telling jokes, throwing a fish at them or offering them a cup
of tea. Just do the unexpected."
Everyone was nodding. Liz thought that if the energy had any sinister
agenda, other than the obvious, it should have been more devious. At
H. G. Wells, it was only a really unusually normal student who did the
"So," summed up Alistair, "no need for violence, or spades. There is
another method of dealing with them, but we're not sure at the moment
whether it's a good or a bad thing, so I'd better hand over to Zoe,
who will tell you about her experiences last week."
Zoe took the stage, looking even shorter than usual as she passed tall
Alistair on the way back down. She didn't seem to be bothered by
public speeches, either.
"I think what I'd like to say is that it pays to be careful what sort
of unexpected thing you do. We were being followed around by a
British GSC called Gwendoline - a classic boarding school snob, who
kept saying I was just a scholarship girl and I shouldn't have any
friends. Pointing out that no one would want a scholarship to H G
Wells made no difference, so we let Jamie try out his idea. As usual,
we should have known better."
"Hey!" muttered Jamie from the audience.
Zoe continued. "He thought kissing her behind the bike sheds would
make her vanish, but it didn't and then he kept hiding from her. So
I've spent the last few days being followed round by Gwendoline
sobbing about her broken heart and how she wants to start a spite
campaign against Victoria, stealing her pens and silly things like
that. We think -."
Alistair coughed meaningfully.
"*Liz* thinks," Zoe corrected herself, "that Jamie's mistake - sorry,
did you hear me at the back? - we thought that JAMIE'S REALLY STUPID
MISTAKE was involving any emotion. The moment the two-dimensional
stereotype starting having real feelings, she took a step towards
becoming a genuine character. So we seem to be stuck with her. Like
I said, she's still a bit of a snob, girly - and the practical jokes
"Zoe," said Patrick Doctor gently.
She paused. "Well, I've been *trying* to teach her how to play
practical jokes, but she's a bit wet, to be honest..."
"Hey," said Jamie to Ben in a loud whisper, "d'ye think this TCE thing
explains how we got Zoe?"
The carefully prepared lecture descended into a riotous squabble.
Mike turned to Benton on the way to the football pitch. "So, next
time one of these fake gorgeous girls appears, d'you reckon we ought
to try kissing them - just in case?"
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt," he said. "Probably turn into frogs or
something next, though."
"Well done!" said Jon Doctor grandly, to Liz and Alistair. "Of
course, if you'd only asked me, I could have told you all that."
They looked at each other, speechless.
"Now, excuse me," he said, "I've got to find poor Jo. She's upset - I
think she's failing her General Science A-Level."
Later, in the empty classroom that they had appropriated for their HQ,
Liz and Alistair were sitting together on one of the tables, Liz
swinging her legs idly.
"We didn't do too badly, did we?" she said.
He had his arm around her. "I thought you did splendidly. What shall
we investigate next?"
"Yes, there's no shortage of weird things around here," she agreed.
"How about why we're all stuck here, staying in the same year? That's
something nobody knows the answer to -."
"No," he said, pulling her nearer. "No that - not yet. I like it
She kissed him on the cheek and smiled. "That reminds me - aren't you
*ever* going to ask me out?"
"I thought I had..."
Epilogue: Educating Gwendoline (or Everything I Needed to Know About
Life I Learned From Zoe)
"So," said Zoe sternly, "not many of us really knows who their parents
are. You don't go around asking and then looking down your nose when
they say that it's complicated."
Gwendoline nodded. She was a fair, pretty girl, but there was
something weak about the set of her face.
"Who are your parents, anyway?" returned Zoe. "Some posh lord or
She coloured. "Actually, I don't know. I don't have any background
"Hobbies? Favourite food? Anything?"
Gwendoline said, "Not really. I just come into the room, mess up the
story and go out again."
"Oh," said Zoe, "well, we *all* do that. And, like I said, half of us
haven't been given much background, either. It'll come to you, or you
can make it up. Now, go off and find something to do - I've got some
calculations I want to check. I'm sure the school computers are
Gwendoline blushed and said shyly, "I'd rather stay with you, Zoe."
"Ohhh," said Zoe and bit her tongue. "I'm going to *kill* Jamie!"
The blonde girl went bright red and said, "Oh, but you can't - not
"Oh dear," said Zoe and tucked her chair back under the table.
"Listen to me Gwendoline - you've got some very important lessons to
learn before we go *anywhere*, but I think we'll begin with Rude Names
to Call Jamie and work from there."
She reflected that it wasn't all bad to have a devoted shadow, who
knew nothing about the world and believed everything she was told...
TTR was created by Tyler Dion; Then Do That Over by Paul Gadzikowski.
Doctor Who is copyright of the BBC.
And I realise now that my Generic School Characters were probably
influenced by a similar idea in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series.
And Gwendoline was of course a nod to Gwendolen (and Alison & others)
from Enid Blyton's Malory Towers - that weak, spiteful, snobbish girl,
who you still feel sorry for at the end...
Okay, do you want an essay? (From a children's librarian)
I thought I could write a high school story based in H G Wells
Memorial High. It was impossible, so the grey blobs literally came
out of the writing process, as to write a stereotypical teen high
school romance, you can't do without the popular crowd. Who (and the
other) characters just didn't work that way.
Plus, while US High School stories are almost a genre in themselves
and a setting that comes up with the same characters (in varying
degrees of dimensionality, to invent a word), this just isn't the same
for UK secondary schools, which usually feature where necessary as a
setting, unless it's an issues book about bullying.
Stories that feature the schools we all actually go to tend to be
family/real life/issues or humour and school is pretty much only there
in passing. (I bet people will think of examples now...) The UK
school story is boarding school, even though hardly anyone goes to one
- recently reinvented by J K Rowling. (Who even does classic things
like the Nasty Replacement Head etc.)
So the UK H G Wells really should be a crazy, weird, mysterious
boarding school, probably in the middle of Exmoor, or the Black
Mountains or somewhere. ;-) (Hogwarts has already nicked a remote
And all this only says a lot more about my reading matter than I
really should admit.
I'm sorry about the whole Liz/Brigadier obsession. I'll finish
Anarchist Sprites next and pretend to still be sane, but there is some
more non TTR to come, I'm afraid, but not too much more.