A Fishy Tail - Chapter 3 - Moving House

And he did like it. The sun shone every day from six in the morning till six at night. It was warm and happy, not cold and rainy; although almost everything was different. There were no postmen or milkmen. You had to fetch your letters from the post office and only the big supermarket sold fresh milk. Instead, people used powdered or tinned. And some of the buses were so old and battered, they had blinds instead of glass for windows.  When Mum told Micky they had to stay in a hotel until their baggage arrived by boat, he didn’t believe her. Every day he asked when the furniture lorry was going to bring his books and games. Finally, Dad decided to take Micky to the port to see the ships dock.  
   ‘You see, Micky,’ he explained as they watched the men unloading wood from a cargo boat, ‘this is a very small island. Instead of using lorries to carry goods from town to town, the people here use boats to deliver goods from island to island.’
   On the day the boat carrying their baggage was expected, they went down to the harbour to watch it dock; with dozens of men running around with ropes and chains to secure the ship. Then Micky really did believe in a furniture van which sailed on water. But he still couldn’t get his toys.
   ‘They start unloading tonight and Customs will clear them tomorrow, so let’s go early.’
   They set off at seven with Mr Wells clutching a large bundle of papers. First, they went to one office to get some papers signed, then they went to another office where more papers were signed; and there were so many papers and so many offices that it took all day! But, finally, everything was sorted.
   ‘I saw green bananas being put on a huge boat,’ Micky told his mother that evening. ‘It’s called a Geest Boat and it comes here every Tuesday. And everyone was very kind, they gave me a Coke and a fish sandwich for lunch – it  was great.’
   Mrs Wells stared at Micky in astonishment. ‘But you hate fish, Micky.’
   ‘Do I?’ said Micky. ‘Don’t think so, Mum. You’ve got  me mixed up with David.’
   There’s no doubt about it, thought Micky. This is a great place. Everything’s great – school’s great – the food’s great – and the beach is really great – and soon I’ll be able to swim.
   School was a terrific adventure too, except that he didn’t much like the cane the teacher carried.
   ‘In England,’ he boasted proudly to his new friends, ‘you can only get detentions and you have to do something really bad first.’

But after three months the sun was still shining, the people were still friendly, school was okay, the beach was still there – and he still couldn’t swim. Bored and miserable, Micky mooched around the house.
   ‘Why can’t I come to the beach with you and Penny?’ he asked David, as soon as he got in from school. ‘I promise I won’t be a nuisance.’
   ‘Because you’re too little.’
   ‘That’s not fair. You said I was too little when I was seven. I’m eight now.’ ‘And, you’re still too little.’
   David stuck his tongue out. ‘Come on, Penny, let’s go before the nuisance breaks into tears.’
   ‘Mu-um will you take me? I’ve nothing to do.’
   ‘Sorry, Micky, I’m just too busy today, we’ll go on Saturday.’
   ‘I hate being eight; it’s just like being seven. I’m still too little to do things. I hate Barbados. I want to go home to England,’ he grumbled.
   ‘Oh, Micky, not again,’ his mother groaned. ‘I can’t bear it. If you’ve said that once, you’ve said it fifty times. For goodness sake go away and play.’
   Mrs Wells didn’t mean to speak so sharply. Micky stormed out of the house slamming the door behind him. He plunged into a chair on the veranda, staring moodily at the garden, and kicked his feet in the dust. It wasn’t fair always being the youngest. No one loved him and he had nothing to do in this mouldy old place.

Then he had a most brilliant idea. He’d go back to England. The more he thought about it, the more brilliant it became. All his friends were there and Gran and Granddad. They’d be pleased to see him all right AND they let him do stuff AND they never got cross with him AND they didn’t nag. But where could he find a boat? Micky frowned. Bridgetown harbour had lots of boats but if he went there he might bump into his dad, or one of his Dad’s friends, and THEY would want to know what he was doing on his own. Suddenly, he remembered the small fishing town they had passed as they drove in from the airport. He’d seen lots of boats there. ‘I bet one of them will take me to England,’ he muttered. So that was that. He’d go. Micky stuck his head through the kitchen door. His mother was busy cooking and didn’t look round. ‘What do you want now, Micky?’ ‘I don’t want any dinner,’ he announced. ‘I’m going back to England, so there.’ ‘Yes, do that, dear,’ said Mum, not listening to a word he said. Micky slammed the door shut. That’s that then, he thought. And set off for the bus stop.

A Fishy Tail - Chapter 2 - Islands in the Sun

The great day arrived. Micky was so excited he could hardly eat his breakfast. He watched for the taxi to take them to Heathrow Airport, his nose pressed against the windowpane. And he asked, at least a hundred times, ‘Mum, when’s the taxi going to arrive?’
   At last, with a screeching of brakes and a loud blast from its horn, the taxi pulled up at the front door. Next minute, the family were off. Micky stared out of the taxi window, his nose pressed against the glass, watching to see his first airplane. And he asked, at least a hundred times, ‘Mum, will we be there soon.’
   ‘Look a plane,’ he shouted suddenly, making them all jump. ‘There it is, see!’ Micky held his breath as the monster climbed into the sky, trailing exhaust fumes behind it. 
   The airport would have been exciting even if Micky hadn’t been catching a plane, with people there from every country in the world, many of them wearing clothes quite different from Micky’s jeans and jacket. He kept asking David, ‘Where does that man come from?’ and ‘Where’s  that?’ because most of the countries he’d never heard of: Kenya, Nigeria and Sudan. 
   They checked their luggage and, once their flight had been called, walked down, what seemed like, a million identical corridors – all with moving-walkways. They walked so far that Micky began to wonder if they were walking to Barbados.
   ‘It’s huge,’ Micky whispered to his brother as they finally boarded their plane. ‘It’s bigger than our house.’
   Actually, the plane was bigger than four houses. And, by the time Micky had explored, watched the stewards serve everyone a drink, it was time for lunch. He ate every bit, it was so delicious.
   ‘Micky you’ve eaten your carrots?’ His mother pointed at his clean plate. ‘But you never eat carrots,’ she continued amazed. ‘You don’t like carrots.’
   ‘Oh, I like carrots now,’ he said. ‘I just didn’t like English carrots.’
   Mrs Wells was speechless. She glanced at her husband who grinned happily at her and carried on eating.
   ‘Told you so,’ he whispered between mouthfuls.
   The journey was really long and took nearly nine hours. David, Penny, and Micky played cards, read, watched the movie, slept a little, and listened to their radios. Gradually it got warmer and, just as Micky was beginning to think they never would arrive, the Seat Belt sign flashed on. The plane began to descend; hardly noticeable at first until Micky felt his ears go pop. Then, with a series of horrendous groans and thumps, the wheels dropped into place. The plane banked tilting sideways and, through the small porthole window, Micky caught sight of the sea. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was blue exactly like the pictures his dad had shown him, deep, deep blue. And he could see straight down to the bottom.
   ‘Can I go in the sea straight away?’ he shouted, trying to bounce up and down in his seat with his seat belt fastened. ‘It looks smashing, ever so friendly, not like the sea in England which looks cross.’  
   ‘Micky, you are just like the sea,’ his mother laughed at him. ‘You’re always cross in England, too.’
   ‘Can I, Dad?’ he said. ‘Can I go in the sea straight away?’
   ‘Not today, Micky. You’ve got a whole year and the sea will be there tomorrow, just as friendly.’
   The big jet touched down onto the tarmac, its engines screeching loudly as it slowed down. It taxied across the runway, following a truck on which were painted the words, Follow Me. They arrived at their parking bay and the engines died away.
   By the time the crew had opened the doors, most of the passengers were already out of their seats, blocking up the aisle. Out of the plane they rushed into a burst of warm, sunny wind. Down the steep flight of steps, across the tarmac, with its black and white zebra crossing, and into the terminal. No moving pavements, only trees and flowers and the bright colours of sunshine.
   ‘It’s not like England, is it?’ Micky whispered to Penny who was walking beside him.
   ‘No,’ she whispered back. ‘But it feels very comfy not strange at all.’
   ‘Wow!’ he exclaimed. ‘That’s exactly how I feel.’
   The Arrivals Hall was hot and sunny with lots of people and lots of queues. Finally, it was Micky’s turn to cross the big red line in front of the Immigration desk. He handed his passport to the officer.     
   ‘How long are you staying?’ The tall man in a white uniform peered down at him.
   ‘A whole year,’ Micky boasted. ‘My dad’s come to work here. Is a year a long time?’ he asked as the officer handed him back his passport.
   ‘Yes, sir. A whole long time. Long enough to get a nice tan and take plenty of sea baths.’
   They smiled at one another, and Micky moved on.
   ‘I like Barbados,’ he announced as they waited for their luggage. ‘I’m going to like it very much indeed.’

A Fishy Tail by Barbara Spencer -Chapter 1

Throughout the summer holidays, I will be serialising my children's book, a Fishy Tail, witter for the 6 - 8 years age group, with a new chapter every few days. Thought it the perfect cmpanion if we get rain.

 ‘I hate it, I won’t eat it, I won’t,’ shouted Micky, staring down at his plate.
   ‘Oh dear,’ said his mother, ‘but you liked it last week,  it was your favourite.’
   ‘I don’t like it this week.’
   ‘Oh dear,’ repeated Mrs Wells, sounding very anxious now because she couldn’t find anything that Micky liked to eat.
   He loathed spinach and peas, beans and carrots, cabbage and eggs, and sausages and fish, AND being the youngest. ‘Why can’t I be old like David and Penny? It’s no fun being the youngest,’ he stormed. ‘They hate me and they never let me do things with them.’
   ‘Oh, I’m sure they don’t hate you, Micky.’
   ‘Yes, they do,’ he grumbled. ‘David calls me a disgrace to mankind – and I don’t even know what that is – and Penny says I should carry a health warning. ‘It’s so unfair. Why can’t David have a go at being the youngest – why has it always got to be me? I was the youngest at five AND six AND seven AND I’m the littlest. They’re always telling me I’m too little to do things. Why am I so little, Mum?’    ‘Because you’re the youngest, Micky,’ said Mrs Wells – a little unwisely. ‘But I HATE being the youngest. It’s beastly having to go to bed first and miss all the good stuff on telly.’
   ‘Oh dear,’ said Mrs Wells sounding very upset indeed.
   Micky stomped upstairs to his room and flung himself on the bed. He glared at his reflection in the mirror, a mop of black hair with his face all blurred and fuzzy round the edges. Angrily, he hooked his thumbs into the corners of his mouth, pulled down his eyelids, crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue. The face glaring back at him looked disgusting, but it was still blurred and fuzzy at the edges.

   ‘Don’t put up with it,’ said Mr Wells that evening after Micky had finally gone to bed.
   ‘And what do you suggest I do?’ ‘Send him to his room without any supper.’
   ‘He’ll be thrilled,’ said Mrs Wells, ‘he hates eating.’
   ‘So why not ask the twins to talk to him,’ suggested  Mr Wells. ‘I’ve tried. David just calls Micky a miserable little worm.’
   ‘And Penny? Surely she’s more sensible.’
   ‘Oh no, she’s no better,’ sighed Mrs Wells. ‘She can’t bear Micky anywhere near her in case he gets his dirty hands on her clean dress. It’s very difficult being seven, you know.’
   ‘Nonsense!’ Mr Wells sounded irritated. ‘It’s no more difficult being seven than … er … forty-seven.’ (Mr Wells was forty-seven) ‘Anyway Micky’s nearly eight!’
   ‘It’s just the same at seven or eight,’ snapped Mrs Wells. ‘You’ve stopped being a baby, but everyone still treats you like one. Please do something. I can’t bear having difficult children.’
   ‘All right, my dear,’ Mr Wells patted his wife’s hand. ‘Now, don’t you worry, I’ll think of something.’

   But Mr Wells didn’t think of anything straight away and meanwhile Micky continued to hate everything except hamburgers and ice cream, and everyone except his dad and mum. He even told his mum he hated her (he didn’t really), because he had to go to the dentist for a check-up and to the opticians to have his eyes tested.
   ‘I won’t wear glasses,’ he stormed. ‘It’s so unfair. David and Penny don’t wear glasses.’
   ‘I know, dear, and I’m so sorry. But if you wear them now, the doctor says by the time you’re twelve – like David and Penny – your eyes will be stronger and then, hopefully, you can leave them off.’
   ‘But twelve’s years away,’ protested Micky weeping. ‘I’m not even eight yet, then there’s nine and ten AND eleven. I shall be an old man before I’m twelve.’
   ‘Dearest Micky,’ his mum hugged him. ‘I promise you won’t be an old man at twelve. But do wear your glasses, just to please me.’
   ‘Can I have hamburgers for tea?’
   Mrs Wells gave in. ‘Yes, you can have hamburgers if you wear your glasses.’
   But in one week Micky had succeeded in breaking them; and in one month he was on his fourth pair.
   ‘Now I’ve had quite enough of this,’ said his dad crossly. ‘If you lose or break this pair, I shall stop your pocket money and you will NOT watch television until you learn to behave.’
   So Micky wore his glasses and added his dad to his list of hates.

Then Mr Wells did think of something. ‘I have news!’ he bellowed as he opened the front door. ‘And it’s great news. David! Penny! Micky! Come here!’
   Micky dropped his book on the floor and tore downstairs, closely followed by the twins.
   ‘De-Dar,’ Mr Wells shouted, beating a drum-roll on an imaginary drum. ‘You’ll never guess in a million years!’
   ‘WHAT?’ shouted Micky. ‘WE –  ARE – GOING – TO – LIVE – IN – BARBADOS – FOR – A – WHOLE – YEAR.’
   ‘WHERE?’ said David and Penny, speaking together.
   ‘WHEN?’ said his wife.
   ‘WHAT’S BARBADOS?’ said Micky.
   ‘It’s an island in the Caribbean Sea, a long way from here. The sun shines every day, not like here where it’s cold and miserable half the time. I have to go there for work and we leave in four weeks – just after Micky’s birthday. Get the map, Micky.’

The vast outline of the coast of America appeared. Tucked away in a semi-circle of dots, Micky saw a small, green oblong surrounded by a sea of blue. David and Penny chased off to search the encyclopaedia for information, leaving their dad, with Micky perched on his knee, to point out the plane route from England.
   ‘And can I learn to swim?’ Micky said, when he heard about the blue water of the Caribbean Sea and all the sailing boats.
   ‘But you hate swimming,’ interrupted Mrs Wells. ‘Not in Barbados, I don’t. I just love swimming in Barbados,’ said Micky triumphantly out-manoeuvring  his mother.
   Micky was so excited he actually  forgot to make a fuss about having  to go to bed first. ‘I can’t wait,’ he cried. ‘A month  is ages and ages and ages. Why  it’s four weeks, which is … er …’
   ‘Ages!’ Mum laughed.  ‘It’s all right for you, you’ve  only got to pack your  suitcase, I have the  whole house to  pack; I’ll never  be ready in  a month.’