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My Granny's Great Escape, страница 1


My Granny's Great Escape

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My Granny's Great Escape

  This is me – Nicholas – and my family.

  That’s my granny in the middle.

  Why does my dad look so cross?

  Because this is Granny’s new boyfriend!

  Jeremy Strong once worked in a bakery, putting the jam into three thousand doughnuts every night. Now he puts the jam in stories instead, which he finds much more exciting. At the age of three, he fell out of a first-floor bedroom window and landed on his head. His mother says that this damaged him for the rest of his life and refuses to take any responsibility. He loves writing stories because he says it is ‘the only time you alone have complete control and can make anything happen’. His ambition is to make you laugh (or at least snuffle). Jeremy Strong lives near Bath with four cats and a flying cow.

  Read more about Nicholas’s daft family





  Are you feeling silly enough to read more?








  For the Hell’s Angel inside us all


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

  Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 1310, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Viking 1997

  Published in Puffin Books 1998

  This edition published 2007


  Text copyright © Jeremy Strong, 1997

  Illustrations copyright © Nick Sharratt, 1997

  All rights reserved

  The moral right of the author and illustrator has been asserted

  Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

  British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

  ISBN: 978-0-14-191663-7


  1 Granny and the Boy Next Door

  2 One or Two Bombshells

  3 Dancing Dinosaurs

  4 I See More Than I’m Supposed To

  5 We Have Burglars

  6 Mud and Muddled

  7 And Did They All Live Happily Ever After…?

  1 Granny and the Boy Next Door

  Yurrgh! I don’t believe it – my granny’s in love! She’s at least five thousand years old (well, sixty-two really) and she’s gone all soppy about this man next door.

  ‘He’s such a handsome boy,’ she told me. Boy! He’s older than she is! Do you know what she did next? She whispered into my left ear, ‘Do you think he fancies me, Nicholas?’

  I tried to escape, but she clung on to me. ‘You’ve gone very red, Nicholas. You’re not embarrassed by your granny, are you?’ Embarrassed? I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. Come to think of it I wanted Granny to crawl into a hole and hide.

  I’d better give you more details. Next door to us live a fussy couple called Mr and Mrs Tugg. Mr Tugg doesn’t get on very well with us. He’s always complaining about something, and Dad keeps calling Mr Tugg ‘The Martian’, as if he’s some kind of alien.

  Here is Mr Tugg’s general list of complaints:

  1 My dad Mr Tugg says that my dad is unhelpful, thoughtless and lowers the tone of the neighbourhood.

  2 Our garden Mr Tugg says people should not be allowed to build dinosaurs in their gardens. (Dad tried to make me a slide in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus rex, but he never finished it.) Mr Tugg also says that our lawn lowers the tone of the neighbourhood, because Dad doesn’t cut it properly. (I’ve seen Mr Tugg trimming his lawn with nail scissors!)

  3 Singing My dad’s got a karaoke machine and he loves singing with it – very loudly. Mr Tugg doesn’t like my dad singing on his karaoke machine. He says it gives him a headache.

  4 Our car Mr Tugg says our car is noisy (true), smelly (true again), doesn’t work properly (also true), and lowers the tone of the neighbourhood (possibly).

  As you can see, Mr Tugg is very concerned about the neighbourhood. He’s even trying to set up one of those neighbourhood watch groups and he wanted Mum and Dad to help. He came round the other morning to speak to them. He stood on the doorstep looking very important with a deerstalker hat stuck on his head and a pair of binoculars hanging round his neck. (In other words, Mr Tugg thought he looked important. My dad thought he looked a bit of a twit.)

  ‘Are you going birdwatching, Mr Tugg?’ asked Dad cheerfully.

  ‘Of course not. This is for my neighbourhood watch scheme.’

  ‘Neighbourhood watch?’ echoed Mum. ‘What’s that?’

  Dad’s eyes lit up. ‘It must be when we all watch the neighbours. It sounds fascinating. Who starts first? Shall we come round and watch you, Mr Tugg, or are you going to watch us? Are we allowed to hide? You shut your eyes and count to a hundred while we run away and hide.’

  ‘Don’t be so ridiculous!’ growled Mr Tugg, and his little moustache began twitching. ‘It’s not like that at all. Neighbourhood watch means that we keep a lookout for burglars and car thieves and vandals. Why do you think I’ve got my binoculars and notebook and whistle?’

  Dad looked at me in astonishment. ‘Phew! Do you hear that, Nicholas? Mr Tugg has got a notebook and whistle! I wouldn’t like to meet him in a dark alley.’ Even Mum had to hide a little smile.

  ‘It’s nothing to laugh at,’ snapped Mr Tugg. ‘There’s too much crime about these days. I’ve just bought a new car and I don’t want it stolen, so I have started up a neighbourhood watch scheme. Everyone else thinks it’s a good idea.’

  ‘It is a good idea, Mr Tugg,’ Mum offered politely. ‘Is your new car nice?’

  Mr Tugg shot an icy glance at all three of us. ‘I hadn’t been planning on buying a new car, but if you remember I found an alligator in the last one. I wasn’t expecting to find an alligator in my car and I drove off the road.’

  (I think I’d better explain. Dad brought a pet alligator home a couple of months ago. We called it Crunchbag, but it

  kept escaping and one day it slipped into the back of Mr Tugg’s car. He went out for a drive with his wife when Crunchbag popped up his head and opened his jaws. Poor Mr Tugg crashed into a tree. Now he’s got a new car and Crunchbag has gone to live in a n
earby zoo.)

  Mr Tugg said he was planning a meeting about the neighbourhood watch scheme and Dad said he would go along. ‘I don’t want to be burgled either,’ he pointed out. ‘The thieves might steal my karaoke machine.’

  Mr Tugg bristled at once, which was exactly what Dad had intended. ‘Quite frankly, robbers would be doing everyone a great service if they did steal your karaoke machine,’ he snapped.

  ‘I don’t think that’s very neighbourly of you, Mr Tugg,’ said Dad, trying to look immensely hurt. ‘Nevertheless, I shall come to your meeting, but I insist on being given a free notebook and whistle.’

  How my dad managed to keep a straight face, I don’t know. Mum couldn’t. She disappeared giggling into the front room.

  ‘Everyone who joins will get a notebook and whistle,’ announced Mr Tugg importantly. ‘I already have a small supply laid in. Now, there’s one other thing I should mention while I am here –’

  ‘Our grass is too long?’ interrupted Dad.

  ‘No –’

  ‘It’s the wrong colour?’

  ‘What’s the wrong colour?’ asked Mr Tugg, whose logical brain had now been thoroughly derailed by Dad’s off-the-wall questions.

  ‘I don’t know,’ said Dad. ‘Everything probably.’

  ‘What are you talking about?’

  ‘I don’t know,’ admitted Dad with a shrug. ‘What are you talking about?’

  ‘I was about to say that my father is coming to live with us.’

  ‘Good heavens!’ cried Dad. ‘I didn’t know Martians had fathers.’

  ‘If you were funny I’d laugh,’ retorted Mr Tugg. ‘My mother died a year ago and he’s been getting lonely on his own, living in a big house. He’s moving in with us.’

  Dad scratched his head. ‘Why are you telling us?’

  Mr Tugg shuffled his feet and I could have sworn he blushed. ‘No particular reason. I thought I had better mention it – in case you

  think he’s a burglar or something.’ Mr Tugg tapped his deerstalker. ‘That’s the sort of thing we have to look out for. Anyway, my father moves in tomorrow.’

  Have you put two and two together yet? Brilliant isn’t it? Mr Tugg’s father is my granny’s ‘boy next door’! But you don’t know the half of it yet!

  Mr Tugg senior is sixty-five and he’s called Lancelot, although he’s hardly a knight in shining armour and he doesn’t ride a horse – he rides a big motorbike and sidecar. In fact, he’s a Hell’s Angel. He has long grey hair tied back in a ponytail and he wears leather trousers and a leather jacket with

  written in silver studs on the back. No wonder Mr Tugg looked so nervous when he was telling us about his father.

  2 One or Two Bombshells

  Big problems today! Mr Tugg’s not speaking to Lancelot and Dad’s not speaking to Granny.

  Apparently, Lancelot has not only moved himself into the Tugg’s beautifully neat house – he’s moved in his pigeons too! Lancelot is a pigeon fancier and he brought twenty racing pigeons with him and put them in the Tugg’s attic. He was trying to

  keep them secret but the secret didn’t last very long.

  Mr Tugg was polishing his car this morning when Lancelot let his pigeons out for a little exercise. Over the houses they went, flip-flap-splitter-splatter. You know what pigeons are like, they’re very messy fliers, and of course one of them managed to bomb Mr Tugg’s nice clean – SPLOOP!

  Mr Tugg went crazy and hurled his bottle of polish after the pigeons. Unfortunately, he had left the top off and most of the contents slopped straight out and splattered down Mr Tugg’s front, which made it look as if he’d been bombarded by several thousand pigeons himself. Mr Tugg went into a full-scale five-star explosion.

  Mr Tugg quite often explodes and I have worked out a scoring system:

  One Star – Turns red and screws up eyes. Doesn’t speak.

  Two Stars – Deep red colour. Clenches fists and jaw and says ‘Grrrrr!’

  Three Stars – Purple. Cheeks tremble. Arms begin to pump up and down. Says things like ‘I won’t stand for this!’

  Four stars – Face becomes white-hot in colour. Stamps feet Moustache begins to wiggle violently. Produces a long, loud complaining speech. Often threatens to call the police, the council, the local MP, the Queen, etc.

  Five stars – Very, very white and shaking all over. Eyes shut tight. Arms pumping, legs stamping. So angry he can no longer speak. General appearance similar to a volcano or hurricane.

  What really sent Mr Tugg into a mega temper-tantrum was watching the pigeon-criminals settle on his own roof and then seeing his own father appear at the skylight going ‘cootchy-coo, cootchy-coo’. The pigeons waddled through the skylight and vanished inside. You could almost see jets of steam hissing from Mr Tugg’s nostrils and he stormed into his house.

  I got the rest of the story from Mum, and she got it from Mrs Tugg. Apparently, Mr Tugg and his father almost had a fight. Mrs Tugg had to calm them down. The pigeons are still up in the attic, but Mr Tugg is so furious he can’t bring himself to speak to his own father.

  A bit later on, my granny went down to the video shop to get a new snooker video. (She loves playing snooker.) When she passed the

  Tugg’s house she saw Lancelot’s motorbike and sidecar outside. Granny has always liked motorbikes. When she was young she used to go trial-biking with her husband up mountainsides in Scotland and places like that. They won loads of trophies.

  Granny was standing there admiring this big black motorbike when Lancelot himself came out of the house, complete with leather trousers and jacket and studs and fringed sleeves, swinging his helmet. He took one look at Granny, stopped in his tracks and pulled off his shades.

  ‘Wow!’ he murmured. ‘You’re a treat for sore eyes!’

  (I ought to point out that I didn’t hear or see any of this. This is the story Granny told me afterwards, and it is just possible that she was exaggerating.)

  ‘Is that your bike?’ asked Granny.

  ‘Certainly is. Want to go for a spin, babe?’ (Granny must have misheard him. How could anyone call my granny ‘babe’?)

  Granny pulled on the spare helmet Lancelot kept in the sidecar, hitched up her dress, and the next minute they were both burning rubber. Lancelot even let Granny take the controls and he was pretty impressed, especially when she headed for the park so that she could show him some of her old trial-biking

  skills. However, the park keepers didn’t think much of Granny’s performance at all, especially when she went hurtling straight through the kiddies’ sandpit and then did a wheelie right round the duck pond. (A wheelie with a sidecar? That’s what I call impressive!)

  The park keepers leaped on to their mowing tractor and gave chase, clattering after the motorbike, mowing the road and spitting out thousands of gravel pips.

  We were sitting peacefully at home when we heard a dreadful roar and Granny skidded on to our drive, leaped from the bike, pulled Lancelot off and dragged him inside. Two seconds later the tractor came clanging and clinking up the road carrying two park keepers, one of whom was leaning out of the cab and wailing ‘Dee-doo dee-doo dee-doo!’ They thundered on our door.

  ‘There are two Hell’s Angels hiding in your house!’ yelled park keeper one.

  ‘I don’t think so,’ said Mum. ‘I live here with my husband who’s upstairs, my nine-year-old son Nicholas, and my deaf mother-in-law.

  Hell’s Angels have not been invited.’

  ‘They came in here – we saw them! We’ll search the place until we find them,’ shouted park keeper two.

  ‘Excuse me,’ said Mum evenly. ‘You are not on Crimewatch and you are not policemen. Go back to your park and make sure all the dogs are behaving themselves.’ (My mum can be pretty cool sometimes.)

  The park keepers fizzed and frothed a bit, but they went and as soon as their lawnmower had gone rattling away Granny fell out of the big coat-cupboard in the hall and Lancelot fell out with her.

  ‘You saved our baco
n,’ grinned Lancelot.

  ‘I think you’d better go home before there’s any more trouble,’ said Mum. Lancelot Tugg reached out, took my mother’s hand and kissed it. ‘You’re a princess,’ he announced, much to Mum’s delight. Then he picked up his helmet, strode

  out to the bike, kick-started the engine and roared off – all the way next door.

  ‘Isn’t he wonderful?’ murmured Granny, gazing after him with big doe-eyes. ‘He’s just like the original Sir Lancelot – a knight in shining armour…’

  ‘He is quite… nice,’ Mum said wistfully.

  Dad came down from the bedroom, wondering what all the noise had been about.

  ‘Granny has been on Lancelot’s motorbike,’ Mum explained.

  ‘It was fabulous,’ said Granny. ‘We went so fast I thought my dentures would fall out.’

  And then came the big shock. I thought Dad would think all this was great, but his entire face wrinkled up into an angry frown and Dad told

  Granny he thought she was too old to play about on motorbikes.

  ‘Too old? Play about?’ cried Granny. ‘I wasn’t playing. I was trial-biking. I used to be a champion you know.’

  ‘Yes, Mother, but that was when you were twenty. Now you are sixty-two.’

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