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Pirate Pandemonium

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Pirate Pandemonium

  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.

  Other books by Jeremy Strong






















  Jeremy Strong

  Pirate Pandemonium

  Illustrated by Judy Brown


  For Jane, and anarchy and imagination in the classroom


  Published by the Penguin Group

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

  Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

  Penguin Books India (P) Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

  Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand

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

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

  First published by A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd 1997

  Published in Puffin Books 1999

  Text copyright © Jeremy Strong, 1997

  Illustrations copyright © Judy Brown, 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.

  ISBN: 978-0-14-196554-3


  1 A Telephone Call

  2 Intoducing Class Five – Beware!

  3 Battle Commences

  4 Give Us Your Treasure!

  5 Tricky Tracey

  6 Mrs Earwigger’s Revenge

  7 The Pirates Go Kidnapping

  1 A Telephone Call

  It was a rather strange shape. It was meant to be a clay elephant, but it looked more like the result of a high-speed, head-on collision between an octopus and a hippopotamus. Violet Pandemonium had only recently taken up pottery. She had been getting rather bored and needed something to do. Normally she had plenty of work as a supply teacher, but recently not a single school had telephoned her to ask if she would like to come and look after a class because the teacher was ill. Miss Pandemonium could not understand it. ‘Perhaps the government has banned teachers from being ill,’ she wondered.

  Then one day she noticed in the local newspaper that someone was selling:

  Miss Pandemonium thought it sounded like a chance not to be missed. ‘I’ve always fancied going potty,’ she giggled, and rang up immediately and bought the lot.

  Violet had not realized how much half a ton of clay was. She lived in a small house in the middle of a terrace, with no front garden and, being rather short of space, she had to put the clay in her bath, where it sat like some hideous misshapen life-form. Excitedly, she set up the potter’s wheel at once, put her foot on the treadle and soon had the wheel spinning round at a fine rate. She grabbed a nice big blob of clay and stuck it on the wheel. Much to her surprise the clay was immediately flung off at high speed. Violet watched as it whizzed across the room and splattered across Auntie Dora’s face. Fortunately it was only a photograph of Auntie Dora.

  Miss P. cleaned up Auntie as best she could, blew her a kiss by way of an apology and had another try. The second blob of clay did much the same thing, except that it flew off in a different direction, zoomed out through the open window and hit a passing cyclist. It flopped over his head like a big brown pancake.

  Unable to see where he was going, the cyclist rode straight up a plank and into the back of a builder’s van. When the builder went to his van to get some bricks he found a dazed cyclist with something like a cowpat sitting on his head, trying to untangle himself from the remains of his twisted bike.

  As for Violet Pandemonium, she had no idea what had happened. She was still searching round her front room, wondering where the clay missile had gone. The potter’s wheel was proving to be a little unpredictable, so Miss P. decided to try some modelling with her hands instead. That was when she made the elephant – or was it a hippopoctopus?

  She was just putting the finishing touches to it when the telephone rang. Miss Pandemonium jumped up to answer it. ‘Hello … yes, I’m Miss Pandemonium, at least I was when I got up this morning … oh! … straight away? Well yes, I can. Which school is it? Witts End Primary … a class of nine- and ten-year-olds … yes, that’s fine … I shall be with you in half an hour … bye-eee!’

  Miss P. tried to put the phone down, but her hands were covered in wet clay and the telephone stuck to her as if it had been glued to her fingers. She pulled the phone from her right hand with her left and the phone stuck to her left hand instead. After several minutes, she eventually managed to escape by pushing the phone out of her hand with one elbow. She had clay halfway up both arms, and the phone was now attached to her left elbow. She shook it off, rushed to the kitchen, had a good wash and then set about getting ready for school.

  Miss Pandemonium quickly stuffed a multitude of bits and bobs into a big canvas holdall. ‘Now, let’s see, have I got everything? Have I got my bag of teaching gear? Yes. Have I got my lunch? No. I shall have to have a school lunch today. Have I got my First Aid bag, my Medical Encyclopaedia and Emergency Acupuncture Kit? Yes. Have I got my glasses? No – don’t be silly, Violet, you don’t wear glasses. OK, let’s go!’

  Miss Pandemonium rushed out through the front door, dropped a bag, picked it up, leapt into her second-hand ambulance and set off for Witts End Primary School with all lights flashing and the siren wailing.

  It was astonishing how empty the roads were when Miss Pandemonium went out in her ambulance. Cars hastily pulled over to one side. Lorries stopped dead. Even the police cheerily waved her on, thinking there was a major emergency somewhere. Miss P. had a clear and easy drive to the school. With a haul on the steering wheel she skidded into the Witts Ends School car park, siren still blaring, foun
d a parking space, did a five-point turn with gears crunching, screeched to a halt and jumped out.

  ‘Oh!’ said Miss Pandemonium as she turned to go into the school. ‘A welcoming committee – how nice!’ Peering from every window were faces – children’s faces, teachers’ faces, cooks’ faces, the secretary, the caretaker, and the head teacher. Everyone had heard the siren. Everyone had seen the ambulance arrive. Now they could all see Miss Pandemonium too.

  Mr Kuddle, the head teacher, hurried across the car park to meet her, stooping to pick up her bags as she dropped them one by one. ‘So glad you’re here,’ he began, retrieving bag number one. ‘I’m Mr Kuddle. I’m the head. You can call me Kevin – everybody does – well, to my face anyway, ha ha! Who knows what they call me behind my back! Ha ha! Lovely ambulance – lovely. Mrs Colon – she has Class Five usually – she’s got a bit of a tummy problem and won’t be back for two weeks or so. Nice class, Class Five – got some characters in there, I can tell you, ha ha! Be firm but kind, that’s what I say. We must earn their respect. That’s Class Five over there, the ones that are waving and shouting at us – oh look, I think Samantha Boggis has just thrown Gary out of the window. Never mind, he’s used to it. He knows his way back. Lovely girl, Samantha – bags of character. Well, good luck, Miss um, Miss um-mum … ?’

  ‘Pandemonium,’ smiled Miss P., who was at last able to get a word in. ‘But call me Violet.’

  ‘Kevin,’ nodded Mr Kuddle. Miss Pandemonium frowned slightly.

  ‘No, not Kevin, Violet.’ Now Mr Kuddle seemed confused. ‘I’m not Violet,’ he said.

  ‘No, I am,’ said Miss Pandemonium. ‘That’s my name.

  Why did you call me Kevin?’

  ‘Did I? How odd. Kevin is my name.’

  They both stopped by the main entrance. ‘So I’m Kevin and you’re Violet,’ repeated Mr Kuddle, and his bushy moustache gave a cheerful wriggle. ‘Good, ha ha! Class Five is up the corridor, last door on the left. Lovely children, lovely. High-spirited little lot! We have a busy time ahead –it’s Book Week, you know, and we are having a new school library opened on Friday by the Mayor. Each class is choosing a special book topic and everybody’s going to dress up. Thought I’d come as Robocop, ha ha! Oh well, see you later um, Violin.’

  Before Miss Pandemonium could correct him, he had gone scurrying back to his little office and shutting the door quickly behind him. Miss Pandemonium grasped her bags firmly and set off down the long corridor.

  Halfway down the corridor a classroom door suddenly flew open and a striking figure appeared. A tall, thin, elderly lady stood framed in the doorway. She was wearing what looked like a long black evening dress, and she stood there, posed like an ancient model, with her raven-black hair piled up on her head in an enormous beehive hairdo. She whipped off her vulture-like glasses and fixed Violet with a penetrating glare.

  ‘Mrs Earwigger,’ she announced curtly. ‘Deputy head. You’re in the room next door. No noise. Thank you.’ And with that she gave a brief nod and vanished back into her classroom.

  Violet Pandemonium put down her bags and stared in surprise at the shut door. She went across to it, pulled the door open, poked her cheerful face round the frame and smiled in at Mrs Earwigger, who appeared most shocked that anyone had opened her door at all, especially without knocking. After all, nobody ever dared to go anywhere near her room.

  A sea of curious little faces gazed back at Miss Pandemonium. A visitor! They never had visitors! Visitors to Mrs Earwigger’s class were like aliens from a distant planet. Violet smiled across at the astonished deputy head.

  ‘Violet Pandemonium,’ she announced. ‘Supply teacher. I’m in the class next door. Loads of noise. I’ve come to teach them how to tap dance and play the drums. Bye-eee.’ And with that she closed the door, picked up her bags and went.

  Inside Mrs Earwigger’s classroom you could have heard a pin drop. Mrs Earwigger stared at the classroom door as if it had just stuck out its tongue at her and burped, very loudly. The children stared at Mrs Earwigger, wondering what she would do next, glancing at each other, with tiny smiles hiding on their lips.

  Then Mrs Earwigger’s mouth began to do something very strange. The children didn’t find it strange at all, because Mrs Earwigger’s mouth was famous for doing exactly this. In fact, the children often tried to copy it in the playground, but nobody did it as well as Mrs Earwigger herself.

  Her mouth began to scrunch up. It sucked itself inwards, so that her thin lips puckered up into a mass of wrinkles, and finally her mouth disappeared, just as if she had swallowed it. This is what Mrs Earwigger did when she was totally flabbergasted. Other people might shout, scream, pull their hair and jump up and down, but Mrs Earwigger sucked up her mouth until it vanished.

  Miss Pandemonium had arrived, and nothing and nobody at Witts End Primary School would ever be quite the same.

  2 Introducing Class Five – Beware!

  Miss Pandemonium pushed open the door of Class Five and walked in. She was used to being greeted by a huddle of children with expectant faces, sitting quietly at their tables. But Class Five was different. They were not in a huddle, they were not quiet and they were not looking the least bit expectant either.

  Samantha Boggis was busy throwing Gary out of a window for the fifth time that morning. A large group of children at the back of the class appeared to be having an ‘Everybody-Welcome-to-Wrestling’ competition. And a section of Samantha Boggis’s all-girl gang had captured three boys and sentenced them to a life of slavery.

  ‘Good morning, everyone!’ cried Miss Pandemonium cheerfully. She was completely ignored. Violet watched them for a few moments. ‘I see,’ she muttered to herself, and dived into her enormous holdall. First of all she pulled out a small, portable electric cooker, put it on her desk and plugged it into a wall socket. Then she went back to the bag and got out a large empty tin can, with a screw top.

  The bunch of wrestlers stopped tying each other into knots and sat down to watch the strange woman doing even stranger things with a tin can. Violet took the empty can to the sink and poured a little cold water into it. Then she took the can back to her desk and placed it on the cooker. While the water was coming to the boil Violet set about cleaning the blackboard, which was covered with remarks like:

  ‘Tom Nunnery stinks’

  ‘Tracey loves Mike’

  ‘Darren Oates has pimples on his b –’

  (The rest was smeared.)

  Miss Pandemonium appeared to completely ignore the children, most of whom had now slipped quietly back to their tables and had their eyes glued to the tin can on the cooker. Steam was spouting up from the little hole in the top.

  ‘It’s boiling, miss,’ said Darren.

  ‘Oh! So it is.’ Miss Pandemonium turned from the clean blackboard, switched off the cooker and removed the can from the heat. She picked up the screw top and carefully screwed the lid on to the can. Then she put it on her desk and without a word began to unpack some of her bits and pieces. Even Samantha Boggis and her gang now had their eyes fixed on the can. What on earth was this weird woman doing?

  Nothing happened, and then, just as Class Five were beginning to get restless once again, there was a loud CLUNK, and one wall of the tin can bent inwards.

  This was quickly followed by another loud CLANG, and the whole tin doubled over, as if it had been punched in the belly by a gigantic invisible fist.

  There was one more ear-splitting SCRANG, and the tin completely collapsed in upon itself, toppled over and crashed to the floor.

  Class Five rose to their feet and stared down at the crumpled can. Then they looked at each other with bewildered faces. ‘How did that happen?’ demanded Samantha. ‘How did you do that?’

  ‘Air pressure,’ answered Miss Pandemonium. ‘Steam drove the air from the can, so that when I put the lid on there was less air inside the can than there was outside it. That meant there was more air pressure outside than there was inside, so the can was crushed by air pressu

  ‘Do it again!’ cried Mike.

  ‘Bring me a can tomorrow and I’ll do it again,’ smiled Violet. Tracey frowned.

  ‘Are you here tomorrow then?’

  ‘Yes. I’m here until Mrs Colon gets better.’

  ‘That’s what Mrs Earwigger does,’ a voice said quietly from the back of the class. Everyone turned round and glared at a small, freckled boy.

  ‘Oh shut up, Gary!’ they cried.

  ‘But she does,’ insisted Gary. ‘It must be air pressure. When she gets all cross and steamy she shuts her mouth and then it all sucks in on itself, just like that tin can. I bet it’s air pressure.’

  ‘Gary,’ said Samantha threateningly, ‘if you open your mouth once more I’m going to stuff your plimsoll bag inside it.’

  ‘Oh, I don’t think so,’ said Miss Pandemonium. ‘We have far more important things to do. I hear it’s Book Week this week, and everybody is going to dress up. Mr Kuddle told me that each class is choosing a special topic. Have you chosen one yet?’

  After several grunts and grumbles Michelle explained that nobody was ever allowed to choose a theme for Book Week because Mrs Earwigger always decided what everyone was going to do.

  ‘I see,’ murmured Miss Pandemonium. ‘Mrs Earwigger decides what every class will do, not just her own class?’ The children nodded glumly. ‘What would happen if we chose a topic for ourselves?’ asked Violet.

  Eyes began to boggle. Jaws dropped. Eyebrows shot all over the place, and there was a severe outbreak of spine-chilling goosepimples.

  There was such an air of excited, scared astonishment that Miss Pandemonium got the impression that such a thing had never been heard of before. She asked the class if Mrs Earwigger had chosen a topic for Class Five yet.

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