Testing Times - Chapter 12 "Lies & Cheats"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  



"Lies & Cheats"

Thursday 23rd April (Continued)

Tammy waited a few minutes before heading to the school secretary's office, via the loo.

"Hi Tammy."

"Janet, what was going on with Mrs Salmond?"

"I don't really know what went on in the room but I shouldn't have allowed her in the room with the girl."

"I thought she was under eighteen, for another day anyway?"

"When I checked the application form, she was eighteen on the twenty fourth of March, the mother was bluffing."

"Oh, that wouldn't help."

"I'm sure the mother would have come up with some excuse?"

"Well I'm sure there will be a complaint against me."

"What is it, so I'm forewarned?"

"I offered tea or coffee and they wanted hot chocolate."

"That's petty."

"Yes, I explained we were out of hot chocolate, I noticed that this morning."

"One of the catering staff had put the replacement pack in the wrong store, it's available again."

"Well, she thought I was staff and demanded to know who my manager was so I told her I was Head Girl."

"That's technically true, of the three girls at the moment you're the only prefect."

"Tanya knows Helen Salmond from school and says none of the kids will do anything with Helen as her mother always complains."

"I'd heard something similar."

"So probably just as well they left, but I can't help feeling that the girl needs to get away from her mother."

"True, but she needs to get her exams out of the way first."

"And then put a few hundred miles between Helen and her mother?"

"Something like that."

"What about Lori, I didn't know she'd applied for the post?"

"She hasn't, she wanted to but her documentation doesn't say 'female' yet, although you would have been okay."

"So what's she doing in there?"

"Being offered a summer internship, paid of course, helping me with the new admissions and administration. If she can fit it in with her studies then she can continue as a part-timer into the autumn."

"A job will help her."

"That's what I thought."

The office door opened, the Head didn't show any surprise at seeing Tammy sat there.

"Could you get the standard short contract paperwork for Miss Jenkins and ask Mr Hibbert to come down." The Head left, closing the door.

"Janet, I'll go to get John."

"Thanks, if you find Lori up there tell her to wait for my call."

"Will do."

There weren't many in the common room but all looked pensive.

"John, he's ready for you."

John nodded but left without saying a word.

"Tammy, I'm frightened." Tanya sounded almost meek.

"Why don't we go for a walk, it's mild outside?"


She found Lori in the corridor outside the common room.

"Mrs Adams says to wait here for her call, Tanya and I will be in The Close."


The Close was a high walled garden populated by benches around the outside and occasionally served as an open air classroom. There were also a few seats in the centre and the pair headed there

"Now Tanya, what John says in there could decide on you being offered the post."

"But it's my job."

"You're being selfish again, stop thinking about just yourself. You've been pushing John away and now, when you really need him, you can't bring yourself to say it."

"I'm scared."

"We're all scared when we're heading into the unknown, and John is there to support you, but it's not a one way transaction. Did they explain the probationary period?"

"I think so."

"If I remember, for non-academic staff it's a three month probation. If after three months you and John aren't working well, you lose your job and your home."

"They can't do that!"

"They can. I guarantee that your selfish attitude yesterday did not win you many friends. What did Elsie say to you?"

"I can't remember."

"Really? I would bet she said something you didn't like."

"Maybe, but what did she know about what I'm going through?"

"There it is again, 'what I'm going through', this isn't just about Tanya Smith, it's also about John Hibbert and the future Mrs Tanya Hibbert."

"You make it sound like there are three people in this relationship?"

"Probably two and a half, the good news is that this won't be an A level maths question! The point here is that you cannot think about any one person in isolation, it might be your job application, but John is currently being interviewed about whether he's willing to be on-call too? If he doesn't measure up then there's no point him being in the cottage. What support did you give him before he went in to see the Head?"

Tanya's head dropped and her eyes welled up. "None, I didn't realise."

"No, you didn't. John could sink or swim in there as he doesn't know if you'll support him or not. Remember, you haven't been offered the job yet."

"Oh, what have I done?"

Out of the corner of her eye Tammy good see John approaching, the Head wasn't far behind. Tammy stepped away and let john envelop his fiancée in his arms.

"Have you talked sense into the girl, Miss Smart?"

"I've tried, Sir, but she wasn't prepared and didn't understand the wider picture."

"Quite. We have decided to re-run the vacancy but I would like Miss Smith to re-apply. The new closing date will be the twenty-third of May with interviews soon after."

"That's in the middle of exam season."

"I'm aware, that was why the interviews were done this week, we'll now be struggling to appoint someone in time."

"Did you tell all this to Mr Hibbert?"


"Tell me Sir, who else was interviewing?"

"Two governors, Mr Davison and Mrs McPherson."

"Harry and Elsie, thank you Sir. Can Tanya stay for lunch? I'll take her home after that."

"I don't see why not. Mr Hibbert is excused school tomorrow morning, I'll expect him back here Sunday afternoon at the latest."

"I understand."

The Head turned and walked away, this wasn't the outcome that everyone wanted, but was perfectly understandable. One of the problems now was the time-scale; whoever was appointed to the post had to be available before the end of the school year in early July but it was late April and interviews wouldn't be now held before the very end of May or early June. Given that the appointee would need legal clearance to work with children, that would add a further delay. If the appointee had to give notice to another employer that could push their availability into August. Tammy wondered if a candidate might be chosen for availability rather than ability before dismissing the thought.

John and Tanya walked up to her.

"I'm sorry Tammy."

"It's John to whom you should say sorry. You managed to screw a job interview where you were the only real candidate."

"What? Lori and Helen were interviewed as well."

"Helen's mother dragged her out and Lori was interviewed for another post."


"Look, I'm sure I just felt a spot of rain, let's go inside. The Head's said you can have lunch here Tanya so why don't we do that then I'll run both of you into town? John doesn't need to be back here until Sunday afternoon so use the time wisely."

They started heading back into school.

"Yes boss."

"Hey, I'm not your boss and I won't tell you what to do but at least listen to my advice, I know how this school ticks. You will be applying again, won't you?"

"I suppose so."

"Look, you'll get another interview and you'll get the job if you have the right attitude, both of you. John, at what point did they tell you that Tanya hadn't got the job?"

"Straight away."

"I bet they then asked you to explain why she hadn't?"


"What did you say?"

"I refused to speculate, I didn't know what Tanya had said during her interview and I didn't know about the other two girls either."

They'd reached the rear door and stopped talking as they walked into the main hallway before turning towards the stairs.

"Tammy, hold a minute."

All three turned around. "Yes Elsie?"

Tammy could now also see Deputy Head Mr Thompson who was clearly not pleased at this informality.

"Could you ensure Mr Hibbert and Miss Smith come to my house after the rehearsal on Saturday?"

"Just the two?"


"I'll look after that."

"Thank you Tammy."

Elsie walked out of the main entrance, Tammy smiled at Mr Thompson and the three eighteen year olds continued on their way to the sixth form common room.

The door hadn't long closed before Tanya started asking questions.

"What is Elsie doing?"

"She's invited the pair of you to dinner with a chat beforehand. It might be a breakfast invite too, so consider packing a weekend bag."

"Why has she invited just the two of us, not mum or you?"

"Because what she'll have to say is for your ears only. Make certain you actually listen to her."

"Tammy, I need to call mum, I know she'll be disappointed."

"I'll take you there after lunch, you can tell her in person. It will only be difficult if you make it difficult. I expect she'll be understanding."

Tammy actually thought Sandy Smith should be apologising for not supporting her daughter, but decided not to say this out loud.

"Yeah, I suppose so."

"Tanya, be positive. This is your future on offer and you get a second chance, don't fluff it this time."

Lori came back, clutching paperwork.

"Well done Lori."

"Thanks, but how do you know?"

"I just do. When do you start?"

"The Monday after my last exam."

"What course were you thinking of doing?"

"BA (Hons) History and Literature."

"Sounds interesting."

"I'm thinking of doing a postgrad teaching course after that."

"That's brilliant."

"I just phoned mum, she's really pleased as it's starting to come together."

Tanya was clearly listening, "I've messed it up, Lori."

"I know, and you have a second chance - don't waste it. Although I might be processing your wages if you get it!"

Tanya gave Lori a hug, "that's a risk I'm prepared to take."

"Now, how about you go and repair your face?"

"Yes, Lori. Tammy, you too?"

"I need a wee, so yes."


Tammy pulled up behind Sarah's shop, John was carrying a weekend bag but was still in his blazer at Tammy's suggestion. She gave them both a hug before sending them on their way to see Tanya's mum, Sandy. Lori had also asked for a ride so was heading towards her flat. Tammy locked the car and walked around to the clothes store.

"Hello Sarah."

"You look tired, Tammy, you haven't started your exams yet, have you?"

"No, I've just been trying to persuade someone to sort her life out."


Tammy laughed. "No, she's not the problem, it's Tanya."

"Oh. Did she get the job?"

"No, but neither did anyone else. They're re-running the vacancy. How's trade?"

Tammy didn't want to dwell on Tanya's issues.

"Pretty good, I've done another order for the islands this week. Are you free tomorrow?"

"Sure, what's up?"

"I have a large delivery coming in at nine, I want to get the new stock out as soon as possible. You're not free on Saturday, are you?"

"No, and I've been asked to take the happy couple to see Elsie after the rehearsal."

"Damn, I'm needed at the theatre but there's no one to mind the shop for me."

"I was going to suggest Lori but she's one of the witches."

"Maybe, do you trust her?"

"She's just been given an admin job at the school, starting as soon as her exams finish."

"That's useful, I could still use someone for the Saturdays when you're gallivanting around being Miss Bond, what's her number?" Tammy wrote it down.

"I can't pay her but I'll let her choose a few items, I'm guessing that her wardrobe is limited right now?"

"Probably, but I haven't been into her flat yet."

"Can you mind the store while I call her?"


Sarah was back a minute later. "I'm meeting her in the hotel bar in a couple of minutes, can you look after the place for half an hour?"

"No problem, I wasn't going anywhere."

It was all of five minutes later when a potential customer walked in.

"Hello Helen." Tammy decided to be cautious.

"Oh, weren't you at the school this morning?"

"I was."

"Were you lying about being head girl?"

"No, I'm the senior girl there and the only female prefect. Are you here to shop?"

"Yes, I need a few things."

"Is your mother coming here?"

"No, she's meeting some friends in the Castletown Hotel. Anyway, I'm upset with her."

"Why?" Tammy thought she had already guessed the reason.

"Apparently there had been a St George's Day service that morning."

"There was, many of the students are English, including myself."

"You don't sound English, but as far as she's concerned the English have no reason to interfere in Scottish affairs."

"In that case, if you don't consider the needs of English students then they wouldn't stay at the school, the school would close and all those jobs would be lost. Can she not see there are consequences? The school brings alot of money into Thurso."

"Hey, you don't need to tell me all about it, anyway she wasn't expecting to see any girls at the school yet."

"It's not taking girls fully before September and then it will only be the sixth form to start with, although there are three of us already."

"She'd heard that some were boys in skirts."

Tammy tried to laugh. "Whatever gave her that idea?"

"One of her friends was a deputy head there for a while."

"I see." Tammy wondered how she could respond when the store door opened.

"Hello Tammy."

"Hello Mrs McIntosh, how are you today?"

"Just fine, is Sarah here?"

"Not right now, she's interviewing."

"That's all I've heard about today, interviews and shenanigans."

"Anyway, can I help you at all?"

"Sarah has ordered a dress for me, would you know if it's here yet?"

"She has a large delivery in the morning and I don't believe there's been a delivery in the past few days, was it a special order?"

"No, it wasn't a special order. That's fine, I'll give her a call tomorrow. That was a lovely lesson you read this morning, very poignant."

"Thank you."

"Will you be in school tomorrow?"

"Yes Mrs McIntosh, at first anyway."

"Please, call me Anne outside of school, I'm not one of your tutors."

"Yes, Anne."

"Will you be seeing Tanya?"

"I'm not sure, she's with her mum at the moment."

"Make sure she applies again, won't you."

"I'll pass that on."

"Thank you, bye for now."


Helen, who had been looking through the rails, had been ignored by Anne McIntosh.

"Who was she?"

"The Headmaster's wife."

"What did she mean by 're-apply', didn't Tanya get the job?"

"It's not right for me to answer that, but if the job came up again would you apply a second time?"

"Not if my mum is going to ruin it a second time."

"Don't let her go to the interview with you."

"I doubt I'll even get an interview, when mum gets involved I never get a second chance at anything. Most of the time I never even get a first chance."

"You're eighteen, your birthday was last month?"

"Yes, mum often lies about my age but I had to include a copy of my passport as proof of ID for the job application."

"Why would she do that?"

"I don't know, sometimes she'll add a year, sometimes deduct a year. I never get asked."

"Well, now you're eighteen you can do as you wish."

"I could hardly leave home, she won't let me have driving lessons and we live miles from a railway station or even any bus routes. Then I'd have nowhere to go."

"Is your father at home?"

"No, when mum went into Scottish politics he went South, I was still quite small at the time. Mum won't let me know where he lives."


"She's standing for MP here in the general election."

"Are you related to Alex ...."

"... yes, mum's a second cousin."

"I see, are you going to college after your A levels?"

"I'm doing Highers not A levels, and no, probably not. My predicted grades aren't any good, I'm doing that deliberately to spite mum."

"Are you planning on failing your Highers then? It's a pain to retake them."

"No, I'll probably do those properly, but it'll be too late for many courses."

The door opened and Sandy Franklin came in. "Hi Tammy."

"Hi Sandy."

"Sarah's just said a jacket has come in that I asked for, it was a special order."

"I'll have a look."

There was a jacket on the end of one of the rails in the store that had an order slip pinned to it. Tammy brought it into the store and immediately noticed that Helen had gone.

"Is this it?"

"Yes, thank you."

Tammy checked the slip as sometimes Sarah demanded payment in advance and sometimes asked for a deposit. In this case nothing had been paid as yet.

"That's forty five pounds Sandy." Tammy put the jacket into a bag while Sandy looked for her card.

Tammy processed the card payment. "What happened to the girl who was in here?"

"Her mother came to the door, poor girl."

"Why do you say that?"

"Her mother had complained about me because I allowed the girl to browse the adult shelves." Sandy was manager of the Thurso library.

"When was this?"

"Last month."

"The girl turned eighteen last month."

"Yes, and sixteen year olds can access those shelves."

"So it was a frivolous complaint?"

"But I still had to go to Inverness for a disciplinary interview."

"You're joking?"

"If only, my manager apologised for dragging me over there but wanted to do it by the book in case she complained about him as well."

"That's sad, what was she aiming to achieve?"

"Publicity probably, she supplied a press release to the papers claiming that he daughter wasn't sixteen yet."

"Helen just said to me her mum sometimes misrepresented her age. Apparently she's standing for parliament."

"Yes, lying and cheating are vital skills for politicians."

Tammy laughed. "Helen had applied for a job at the school but Mrs Salmond dragged her out. Mind you, her mother accused me of being a member of staff."

"That reminds me, why are you in that suit today, you do look very business-like though?"

"We had a St George's day service at the school today and I was asked to read the lesson, although I didn't know that when I arrived there this morning. It was after the service that the interviews took place, I was first asked to look after Tanya and then the Salmonds."

"Poor you."

"I reckon on at least one complaint as there was no hot chocolate available."

"If it involved anyone else I would think you were winding me up, but I suspect you're telling the truth?"

Tammy nodded.

"How did Tanya get on?"

"She didn't get the job."

"Who did?"

"No-one, they're re-running the vacancy and Tanya has been told to re-apply."

"Is she going to be a problem on Saturday?"

"Not this time, Sandy."


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