Testing Times - Chapter 19 "Salmond Fishing"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  

Part
Nineteen

 

"Salmond Fishing"

 
Friday 8th May
 

If the media on Thursday had been at fever pitch then today's media was at risk of a coronary. In London the sitting government had been swept back into power with an increased majority as the traditional opposition was decimated. Minor parties now had a greater say in opposition affairs.

At Holyrood, home of Scotland's Parliament, it was a different scene. The one Scottish party had usurped the rest.

In local news, Veronica Salmond had been elected as the Caithness Member of Parliament (MP) for the UK, the local Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) hadn't been declared at 7am.

Tammy had once again driven to school in time for breakfast, allowing her to keep up with the gossip. Angela had asked if she could join her sister this morning; they sat in the car before going inside.

"Angela, are you going to tell me what's wrong?"

"There's nothing wrong."

"Don't fib, I know something's bugging you and I think it's making you ill."

"Okay, it's the exams."

"That might explain some of it, but not how you were so abrupt with Joanne on Tuesday and how you're avoiding me."

"I wasn't." Angela started to cry, Tammy offered her a tissue from a box she kept in the car.

"Please Angela, I don't want you like this. I can't help you if you won't tell me."

"What do you want to hear?"

"No, Angela, no."

Angela went quiet, Tammy didn't push it so just sat, waiting. It took a minute.

"I can't handle it."

"Handle what?"

"The mood swings, the downers. You don't get it, do you?"

"Sure I get mood swings, I also get ratty weeks, but I'm usually too busy to worry."

"You never said?"

"No, but if I don't let it bother me ...."

"So, yes, it bothers me. It also bothers me that it doesn't bother you!"

Tammy laughed. "Well, if that's the worst?"

"No it's not. Some mornings I feel really bad."

"What have you said to mum?"

"That I don't want to get up, that I can't concentrate, that sort of thing."

"And?"

"She says I'll get over it and just puts it down to exam stress."

Tammy thought for a moment.

"How long have you been on the blockers?"

"About ten weeks."

"Have you been for a blood test?"

"No, no-one said."

"You should, the blockers could be screwing around with you, you might need different ones. Unless you have a blood test done they won't know."

"Oh, how do you arrange it?"

"My GP phoned and reminded me, I went on Wednesday."

"I don't like needles, Tammy."

"If you don't have the test then the only thing is to stop the blockers, do you want to do that?"

"No, I'd rather have the hormones, like you."

"My circumstances were different, there was nothing in my system to block."

"I thought you bypassed that, bought your way to hormones?"

Tammy laughed, "you're joking? I was shocked when Professor Roberts said I could have HRT as I was expecting it to take much longer, but Dr Yates had already said it was either HRT or testosterone as doing nothing wasn't an option."

"I'd forgotten that."

"So I'm the exception and you're the norm!"

"Yeah. What about the blood test?"

"Let's get breakfast first, the surgery won't be open just yet."

***

"Good morning boys, and girls." Deputy Head Mr Thompson was addressing the upper sixth. "As you all know, exams start next week. We'll be using the gymnasium so you should report there no more than fifteen minutes before the exam start time.

"If you are unwell, inform someone immediately, but the school alone cannot make any allowances, you would have to plead your case to the examination board. Being late to an exam is also not recommended as the doors are locked shortly after the start. Obviously the fire exits would still open in case of emergency.

"Please leave mobile phones, or any other electronic device with Mrs Adams on any exam days. The only exception are pocket calculators where the exam permits these. Otherwise please ensure you have sufficient pens, pencils and erasers plus any other equipment the exam requires.

"Are there any questions?"

There weren't. All of the boys, and girls, had sat exams under the same rules two years earlier. It had been a tradition for several years that boys wore kilts to exams as the gymnasium could become quite humid, but this would be the first time skirts were worn by any of the participants. Tammy wondered how many of the boys might opt for a skirt given they could be lighter than kilts, not that the Head had offered that change to the dress code for the lower years - yet.

Tammy suggested to Angela that they went to see Joan, if she was free. They were lucky.

"Mum, Angela and I have had a discussion, she needs to make an appointment at the surgery."

"Are you ill, Angela?"

"Not as such, mum, I'm supposed to have gone for a blood test but I'm scared of needles."

"I don't recall you being asked to have blood tests?"

"I think I was told, but I ignored it."

Joan realised what she had to do, she picked up the phone to call the surgery.

"Hello, I'm phoning about my daughter Angela Small ........ I'm told she needs a blood test, when can she attend? ............I see ......... Ten o'clock? Okay, thank you."

Joan put the handset down.

"Now, Miss, because you've not been to see Dr Sutherland since you were prescribed the blockers, she won't simply let you turn up and have blood removed. She wants to see you at ten o'clock, there was a cancellation."

Tammy looked at the clock, it was nine-fifteen, Joan was shaking her head. "I'm afraid I have meetings or appointments all day, could you take her please Tammy?"

"Sure, I'm heading out of here anyway, coffee first though."

"Thanks Tammy."

The girls walked up to the common room as they didn't have to leave immediately. The weekly local paper was sat on one of the chairs, abandoned by the last reader. The front page headline was clear:

 Paedo Snapper Arrested

The article was accompanied by a long lens photo of Chris Cutter being put in a police car the previous lunchtime. The photographer of this picture wasn't named, but the picture reference was FW/15/5/5/01. "FW" thought Tammy? Oh, Florence Walsh, surely not a coincidence.

Angela was fidgeting and hadn't wanted a drink, Tammy decided to abandon her half-empty mug and get her sister off the premises.

They pulled up outside the doctor's surgery with ten minutes to spare, but the pair went straight in. The waiting room this morning was full of prams, buggies and babies, clearly a postnatal clinic was taking place. Angela wasn't comfortable so Tammy booked her in, it turned out that Angela wouldn't be seeing Dr Sutherland, but would be seen by trainee GP Dr Ravichandra.

When Angela was called she insisted Tammy went in with her.

Dr Ravichandra was a lady in her late twenties, Angela had been tense but relaxed, just a little.

"Hello, how can I help you?"

Angela started but mangled her words, "Blood test, mood swings". She looked at Tammy for help.

"What my sister is trying to say is that she is supposed to be on monthly blood tests. She started androgen blockers ten weeks ago and hasn't had any follow-up yet. She's also encountering severe mood swings."

Dr Ravichandra turned to Angela, "is this correct?" Angela nodded.

The GP look at look at the monitor on her desk, Angela's medical records were on the screen.

"It says here you're on Endorin," Angela nodded, "can you tell me how you feel at the moment?"

Angela started explaining; when Tammy tried to fill in the gaps the GP stopped her, "please let Angela use her own words." When the girl finished the GP turned to her keyboard and added a few words to the screen.

"Can you take off your jacket please," the GP put gloves as she spoke then picked up a phlembotomy kit. "Hold out your arm please, and relax."

Somehow Angela didn't freak as the cannula was inserted. The GP collected five vials and said something about a 'full spectrum' test. She put some cotton wool over the insertion point and taped this down. "You can take that off in an hour. I'll see if we can get your bloods analysed by Monday latest, make an appointment to see me early next week."

Angela went to say something but Tammy squeezed her hand, "certainly Doctor."

Back in the waiting room the pair pulled out their phones to look at the following week's schedule. Both had A Level exams on Wednesday. "I'd like an appointment for Tuesday with Dr Ravichandra, please."

"Nine o'clock?"

"Yes, thank you."

Tammy drove home with Angela, who seemed to be a little happier. She met Pru, her PA, inside.

"I have a message from your father, Tammy, he's had to go to the heliport and will be out most of the day. apparently some of the newly elected MPs and MSPs have decided they're too important to take the train."

Tammy laughed, "some of them have wonderful ideas of how important they really are!"

"Quite, and some of them can't afford to pay for the ride yet so are asking for an account. Your dad is having the final say on who gets an account."

"He won't risk a bad debt."

"Exactly. Now, Sarah rang for you about ten minutes ago."

"Did she say why?"

"No, but asked that you call her as soon as possible."

Tammy used her mobile to call Sarah.

"Oh, hello Tammy. Do you know someone called Helen?"

"Helen Salmond, she applied for a job at the school and I saw her in the shop a week or so back."

"She rang asking for you but wouldn't tell me anything, she seemed to think you were working today."

"I hadn't even decided if I was coming down town. Did you get her number?" Sarah read it out, it was a mobile number.

Tammy collected a glass of water then went to her room to make the call. She used her mobile and didn't withhold the number.

"Hello?"

"Helen?"

"Yes, who's that?"

"Helen it's Tammy Smart, you called Sarah's shop looking for me?"

"Oh, thank you! I didn't know who else to trust, I'll be quick, I don't know how long this battery will last. Mum has gone to London, she's locked me indoors and has locked the house phone away so I can't use it. She says she'll be back on Sunday, maybe. I think I have exams starting on Monday!"

"You can't get out?"

"No, she thinks she's protecting me."

"Okay, I'll talk to some friends."

"Not the police please, it'll ruin her, and not social services either."

"Helen, you're eighteen and locked up, that's against the law. You are more important than she is. Leave it with me though, what's the address?"

Helen read it out.

"What phone are you using?"

"I bought a cheap pay-as-you-go phone a couple of weeks ago and I hid it. I don't have much credit left on it because I was testing out the online things, she won't let me have internet at home."

"Okay, okay. See if you can make sure it's switched on and charging, I'll call you back when we have a clear plan.

"Thank you Tammy."

Her next call was to her father.

"Has the new Caithness MP Veronica Salmond flown South?"

"I can't give client information out Tammy."

"Even though I'm a director?"

"Even so."

"Well, she's locked her daughter indoors and the kid might not make it to her exams next week."

"How do you know the girl?"

"She applied for the same job as Tanya, I've met her at Sarah's too."

"I see. Yes, her mother left here at eight, heading for Aberdeen Airport and a private flight onwards to London City."

"Thanks."

Tammy called Dave Brown and asked for the new secure number for Caithness Marine. Armed with that number she went down to the study and called, after asking Pru to leave the room.

"Hello Tammy."

"Hi Hilary, I've stumbled into a problem." She briefly explained the issue.

"Oh, I think you should get down here in that case."

"Give me fifteen."

Tammy went back to her room, and checked she was decent. Looking out of her window she could see the workmen were clearing their tools and the rubbish away, although they had kept the site as clear as possible throughout. The new glass wall on the side of the barn still had the safety tape across it, beyond that the pool tiling shone. The space next to the pool was empty and a few dust sheets were still in evidence.

"Pru, what's happening out there now?" Tammy was ready to leave but wanted to catch her assistant.

"The site manager said the grouting wasn't quite dry so the pool can't be filled just yet."

"Oh, I was hoping we might use it this weekend, I could do with a swim."

"He's coming back tomorrow or Sunday, if he's happy then it'll be filled and the pumps tested. There's someone coming in next week to put a privacy screen on the glass and the gym equipment can't be installed before next week."

"Okay, but I might need somewhere to de-stress after an exam?"

"Yes, it'll definitely be ready by then."

Tammy drove into town and let herself into Caithness Marine. Only Hilary was there, on the phone in the rear office. Tammy was a little surprised at the amount of technology in there. Hilary waved her into a chair while she finished the call.

"Now, Tammy, can you go through this again, from the start. I need to know everything you have heard about Helen Salmond and her mother.

Tammy went back to the first time she'd met Helen, on St George's Day. She started to recall information that had almost passed her by, aided by Hilary's gentle prodding.

"She doesn't have anything to do with her father?"

"Not that I know, if I remember correctly he's in England but I don't know if he's English. Veronica, however, is using her maiden name."

"I'll investigate that, thanks. Now, why do you think the mother's connected to Yvonne Stewart?"

"Helen told me that her mother was friends with a deputy head at St Andrews for a while; we've only had one change of deputy head in the past eight years other than Yvonne's short tenure so I guess it's Yvonne she's referring to.

"I see."

Tammy then explained the confusion over Helen's age and the way the school girl was being manipulated.

"But she doesn't want the police involved?"

"I guess she still has loyalty to her mother."

"Plainly. Anyway, I've made some enquiries through the Whips office for the Scottish Democrats. It seems Mrs Salmond will be there for at least four days, probably five so she can attend Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday. They don't know where she is right now though."

"I think Helen's first exam is Monday, but I don't know what she's taking."

"Check with her, we need a complete picture before we do anything."

"Any chance of a coffee?"

"Yes, make the call then I'll show you where the kettle is."

Tammy called Helen's number, putting it on speaker, after making sure Hilary had a note of it.

"Helen, it's Tammy."

"Hi Tammy. My phone's fully charged but I think I'm out of credit."

"Okay, I'll see what we can do about that. Now, what Highers are you taking?"

"English Lit, Scottish History and Politics."

"When are the first ones?"

"I checked, Politics on Tuesday morning, History on Wednesday, English Lit on Friday."

"None on Monday?"

"No."

"Where are you sitting them?"

"Thurso High School."

"Have you heard from your mother since she left?"

"No, how could I? I've checked the supplies and it looks like I'll run out of milk on Sunday, and bread tomorrow."

"You said earlier that she doesn't know that you have this phone?"

"No, I had some birthday money saved so I bought a phone when we went into Wick a few weeks ago, Mum left me on my own for half an hour while she had a meeting."

"Okay, I'll call you back shortly."

"Thanks Tammy."

Tammy ended the call. "She's sounding worried, Hilary."

"I heard that too. You do realise that if we intervene then it could become public knowledge."

"I guess so, but what do we do?"

"Let's talk to the Police first."

"She doesn't want the police involved."

"They are the appropriate authority here, even if they don't actually go to the house."

Tammy's phone pinged, she checked the screen.

Where are you?

In town, in a meeting. Why?

Helen Salmond wasn't at school today for the exam pep talk, some girls on the school bus said they saw her indoors but the school can't get hold of her or her mother

The school's concerned?

Yes, Deputy Head Miss Douglas was asking what we knew

Thanks Tanya, that's useful

Don't tell you're involved?

Bye Tanya

Tammy put her phone away, Hilary was coming back into the room with two mugs of coffee. "Hilary, it seems she didn't attend a meeting at school this morning so that was noticed."

"Good, that gives us an opportunity. I'll give DS Franklin a call."

"Why him?"

"He's been appointed our local liaison, I understand you know him?"

"Yes, and his wife."

"Okay, but I want to avoid a huge amount of potential trouble. Your involvement in this cannot be made public, otherwise your value to this project disappears."

"Oh."

"We'll deal with Miss Salmond in due course but right now I don't want you to do anything more or to say anything to anyone. Understand?"

"Yes, Hilary."

"Good, but very well done for your work so far."

"Thank you."

"Please close the door on your way out."

"Oh, okay, bye."

Tammy decided her best plan was to go home, it wasn't long until lunch.

It was a few hours later when her bedroom phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Tammy, it's Elsie. Could you come over? Bring two swimsuits please."

"Two?"

"Yes please, Angela as well if she wants."



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