Ian Probert, author of the hilarious children’s book, Johnny Nothing, has been kind enough to release a sneak preview of his next book, Johnny’s Dead to coincide with the Book Tour and Giveaway of Johnny Nothing. (see previous post)
Nobody noticed Johnny Nothing as he moved slowly into the school playground. Why would they? He was an unremarkable kind of boy. The sort of boy who wasn’t even a household name in his own household. Ginger hair. Freckles. A nose that never seemed to stop running (although even Johnny never exactly understood what it was running from). Nobody noticed as he picked up the largest stone he could find and lobbed it at a window with all his might. Lots of heads turned towards the crash of shattering glass but nobody spotted Johnny.
Nobody was looking when Johnny went up behind Billy Crumpster and gave him a hefty kick up the fat, spotty backside that brought tears to the eyes of the hated school bully. “How’d you like that?” smiled Johnny, remembering the years of misery he had endured at the hands and fists of this walking lump of vitriol and blubber.
“Yooowwwwww’ howled Billy, as a few of his lump-headed cronies tried not to snigger. “If I find out who did that I’ll… I’ll… Kill them!”
Nobody seemed interested when Johnny took his place at the back of the classroom to watch in silence as the despised Mr. Nicolas took to the stage. “How on earth did I land myself with an ugly bunch of thickos like you lot!” said the red-nosed teacher in his customary cheerful manner. “If anybody dares to interrupt me I’ll have their guts for garters!”
Mr. Nicolas was Welsh but taught French. He was particularly fond of throwing things at his pupils. Chalk. Rubbers. Pens. Knives. Hand grenades. Anything that he could get his hands on really. He thought that picking on the kids was part of his job description. If he managed to make one cry it was a perk of the job. Like many grown-ups, he wore a wig – a really cheap one made of nylon that was fixed to his head with superglue from the £1 shop. Mr. Nicolas thought that it made him look rather fetching in a Hollywood movie star kind of way. Which is why a look of sheer horror spread across his face when he suddenly felt a cool breeze waft across the top of his head and realised that his nylon wig was missing and that he no longer looked like Brad Pitt. “Stop that noise immediately!” he yelled, caught between trying to cup his hands over his shining dome and finding something large and blunt to throw at the roomful of giggling schoolchildren. “If I find out who’s pinched my hair system I’ll make their life a misery!” Adults call them ‘systems’ because the don’t like the word ‘wig’.
Johnny had never had so much fun. At break he managed to block all the teachers’ toilets with bubble gum. The headmaster had to roll up his trousers to ungum them and ended up covered in teachers’ poo. At lunch Johnny put salt in the sugar bowls and dandruff in the pepper pots that he got from the scalp of ‘Flaking’ Stevens in Year 5.
And nobody had a clue that Johnny was behind this wave of mischief.
He was enjoying himself. In the afternoon Johnny put chilli powder in horrible Mr. Grimes’ underpants. The PE teacher spent the next hour doing a peculiar kind of break dance that made the cross country team wail with laughter. Finally he had no choice but to run for a shower that was boiling hot one minute and freezing cold the next. When the thoroughly miserable teacher eventually managed to wash away the chilli powder he was forced to put on a dress. Somebody had stolen his own clothing. Someone whose name happened to be Johnny.
Johnny had always hated school. It was a place of misery. A place where bullies bullied you. A place where teachers taught you that life might be bad now but wait until you grow up. But all of a sudden he was having a whale of a time. During the afternoon break Johnny set off the fire alarms and turned on the sprinklers in the staff common room. The teachers were deafened and soaked to the skin. But before the final bell sounded Johnny had one last trick up his sleeve. As the soggy teachers attempted to rise to dismiss their classes for the day they found they were unable to move. Someone had nailed their underwear to their chairs. You can probably guess who.
By the time that the school began to empty there were a lot of happy smiling faces. Many of the children had never had such a good time. Some, however, such as Billy Crumpster for example, didn’t look quite so happy. Most delighted of all was Johnny. And if anybody who knew him could have seen his face they would have agreed that they had never seen him looking so pleased. For the first time ever Johnny had actually enjoyed going to school.
Perhaps being dead wasn’t so bad after all.
Ian Probert has been scribbling down words ever since he learned to spell the phrase: ‘Once upon a time…’. He is the author of Internet Spy, Rope Burns and a bunch of other titles. Internet Spy was a bestseller in the US and made into a TV film. Rope Burns is a book about why books shouldn’t be written about boxing. Ian has also written things for a shed load of newspapers and magazines. When Ian was a student he used to write lots of letters to the bank manager.