Freddy was glad he wasn’t Scottish; Scottish children had to go back to school in August, but when he heard his parents talking about school uniform he felt those butterflies in his stomach. September was coming too soon and the Prime Minister said everyone had to go back to school now. When he heard his parents talking to the other grownups at the barbeque he hoped maybe it wouldn’t happen.
Can’t see how it will work, bubbles, ridiculous…
Bubbles, were stupid. When they went to see Grandma and Grandad in their bubble, he thought they would be floating in a gigantic rainbow bubble and he would push and be sucked in with a loud pop. When they got to their house and went round to the back garden for a picnic, there was no bubble; Grandma and Granddad were just sitting in their house waving through the patio door. Freddy wasn’t even allowed to go indoors and play with Daddy’s old Lego. What would a school bubble look like? Perhaps they would blow bubbles instead of doing work.
On Sunday morning Freddy’s bubbly thoughts popped when he realised Mummy was talking to him.
‘Hurry up and finish your breakfast, we want to get to the shops as soon as they open, Marks and Spencer for your uniform, then Clarks to have your feet measured.’
‘I don’t want to go to the shops, it’s too windy.’
‘But you like having your feet measured on that magic machine.’
‘It’s not magic and I don’t need new shoes.’
On the way to the shops he sat in the back seat of the car while Mummy and Daddy argued in the front seat, like they usually did.
‘Sunday, who goes shopping for school clothes on a Sunday?’ said Daddy.
‘No one, it will be lovely and quiet.’
‘I don’t believe it, the car park’s full.’
‘We shouldn’t have left it to the last minute, we’re never going to get all Freddy’s stuff for school.’
Freddy’s spirits soared, he couldn’t go to school if he didn’t have his uniform and PE stuff.
‘I don’t mind if I can’t go to school.’
‘Don’t worry, even if you have to go to school in your pyjamas you are going’ laughed Daddy.
Pyjamas… Freddy imagined himself sitting in the classroom with his Lego pyjamas on and everybody laughing, especially …
‘Come on, jump out, we’ll park here and walk down the road to the shopping centre’ said Daddy.
‘Oh no, look at that queue for Clarks’ said Mummy ‘and for Marks, well we’ll just have to be patient, oh there’s Sarah, look Freddy, Annabel’s here with her Mummy and Daddy.’
Freddy felt shy, Annabel looked different, then she smiled as the grown ups started chatting, standing carefully apart. Freddy smiled back, but couldn’t think of anything to say.
Annabel’s mummy had plenty to say.
‘How is it going to work? One child coughs and the whole class gets sent home? Or you get to school and they take Freddy’s temperature and say too high, he has to go home…’
Freddy’s smile got bigger as Annabel started laughing, then whispering, creeping nearer.
‘Freddy, when we get to school, let’s do coughing.’
He remembered what his parents were always saying when they had that hot weather. Stop running around getting too hot. All he had to do was run around and cough a lot and everybody would get sent home from school…