June 2nd (2)

We stopped and sat down on the bench to the side of the netball courts. Mook was looking tired and gazing at the primary education block.

“All of that is wasted space, right?” he asked.

I told him that at the moment, yes it was and explained that it had been used when other people were here, mostly as private accommodation; bedrooms, family rooms and so on.

“And where are the labs?”

“Second floor. The windows on this side are to the offices and lab assistants stores. The labs are on the other side of the building.”

He nodded, mulling things over and getting a feel for the layout.

“The end rooms?”

“Oh, they were general teaching rooms. On the ground floor I had history in one of them and French in the other. Second floor I had music and french and the top floor, believe it or not, had a needlework room and a pottery!”

“Get out?” Mook was incredulous.

“Yeah, there was a kiln and potter’s wheels. A whole ceramics studio.”

“Unbelievable. Art and music were after school clubs when I was at school. We didn’t get taught it as part of the general curriculum.”

I thought myself lucky.

“The ones we used for French, on the ground floor, had those flip tables with drawing boards for Technical Drawing.”

“Really?”

That make his ears prick up!

“Yes. We moved them all out though . . .”

“Damn it!”

“ . . . some got used as firewood . . .”

“What!”

“. . .but we kept half a dozen back and put them in the library.”

I shouldn’t have teased him really, but he’s been so stiff this morning. None of his usually relaxed attitude. Something is definitely wrong.

Mook was seriously flagging. The exertion had been too much for him and he couldn’t get up again. He was weak and in need of painkillers. I hadn’t expected this part of the audit to take so long and had completely overestimated Mooks strength.

For me, it was nothing. I ran round to the main living area in less than a minute, shouted for Spiggy, who was already putting together a cold lunch, and got him to pack some food up. I grabbed some milk, juice and painkillers and legged it back to Mook. He was tired and looked drawn. I gave him a drink and the painkillers. A few minutes later, Spiggy arrived with food.

An hour of relaxation, food and banter and Mook began to look better. We offered to carry him back or at least support him, but he said he needed to walk. There wasn’t much left to see. He’d already been given a rundown of what was in the woodwork and metalwork building and didn’t want to attempt the stairs. So we walked round the building, past the bike sheds and towards the main gate.

We walked through the gate and Mook stopped, looking round at the building. I pointed out the rooms that had been living quarters on the ground floor; the science labs on the first and the colossal art room on the top floor.

He turned around and saw the paddock. It wasn’t part of the school but was owned by a riding school that backed onto the land. It seemed a little incongruous back then. Working class school butted right up to posh kids at play. Naturally, there were scuffles and altercations and naturally, the rough kids always got the blame for starting fights, even though that was rarely the case.

“We used to use it for grain,” I said, “back when there was a lot of us. We used the bulk of the playing fields, too.”

Mook seemed confused. He looked at me, again as if he was about to ask a question but thought better of it.

“Grain . . .” he said, “interesting.”

“We could grow wheat or rye again now there is more than just me.”

“Hmmmm.”

I tried pushing the subject, but he had gone into Mook World and was obviously mulling something over. When he went into these moods, it was difficult to engage him in conversation. Usually when he came out of his head space, he had something interesting to say, so I stopped pushing.

We carried on along the front of the school and back to the main entrance. Tour over. He said nothing and walked to his room, closing the door behind him.

I put his mood down to overexertion and thought no more of it.

Evening.

Spiggy reported back about the security of the barricades. He was cheerful and saw no problems in taking them down and rebuilding them in a day. Well, one a day. It would probably take about a week to do the whole school as we thought. Maybe less; we don’t have to do both ends of each section.

Mook was called to tea, but there was no response. Spiggy went to see if he was okay. Mook had locked the door and was still not responding. Spiggy didn’t seem too concerned.

“He does this sometimes,” he explained, “usually when he’s thinking or got a lot of new information.”

Well, that was something. Being a half empty sort of person, I’d assumed he’d seen the full horror of his new life and had gone into a reactive depression.

“No, he’ll be right. Give him some time.”

The rest of the evening passed with me or Spig saying barely a word. It may be ‘Mook being Mook’, but something was troubling Spiggy. Even the cats were looking quizzical. I suggested we started on the barricades early in the morning. Do the library first; the plans and the chess set might cheer Mook up. Spig agreed.

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