I can remember sitting in class squirming with excitement for first break. My three best friends at that school were all in the year above and when they saw this they were going to think it was so cool. I can remember finding Pete and Rich, but I can’t think where David was that day. We went to one of our usual haunts, the top of the fire escape at the back of the school gym*. This sounds like a nice out of the way spot, but it wasn’t totally hidden. My school had two quads** – an upper quad and a lower quad. The upper quad was between all of the classrooms so was not very useful for break times, sure you might hang around in there from time to time, but with all the teachers looking on it wasn’t much fun. Also with all of the windows on the classrooms there were strictly no ball games, the lower quad was where all the serious playing went on. The two quads were separated by the gym, and the fire escape faced the path between the two quads, so a lot of kids would walk past, but most wouldn’t notice us up there on the fire escape. But we could watch them.
Once we were safely up in our spot, I was ready to show Pete and Rich my treasure. I had found it on the window sill of my bedroom that very morning. Proof of the existence of Aliens.
It was a yellow pad of paper, with the hard cardboard back, the thick binding at the top so that you could rip the pages off. Most of the pages had been ripped off and the pad had been left, blank, on the window sill the night before. But now there was a diagram, a schematic for something on the page. I explained the situation, showed them what I had found, and said breathlessly “this drawing must have been beamed down from space on to the page”. They agreed, that much was clear and certain to our eleven year old minds.
What would we do next with this discovery? We must consult the authorities. But, I reasoned, we would have to be careful as there must be a reason that diagram was beamed to us rather than to the prime minister – to me the prime minister seemed the most likely alternative recipient.
Just then our Latin teacher came walking past on the path at the bottom of the stairs. We called down to her and ran down the stairs, “Miss Cooper, Miss Cooper”. She stopped and looked to see what we had to show her. The diagram, she agreed with us readily, could easily be alien, but had we considered the ancient Egyptians? I pointed out that the paper had been left on a window sill and behind the curtains, therefore leaving a direct line to outer space. Aliens, I reasoned, had to be the prime candidates.
This might all seem pretty strange to you, but Miss Cooper was very happy to believe our story. She once brought dowsing rods into school to check if there were lay lines in our classroom which might explain some of the poor marks people were getting. Frankly, if you weren’t cultivating a good number of eccentric habits then I don’t think you were allowed to teach at the school.
The next step was clear, I needed to show this drawing to my father, he knew about electronics and making things, he would be the next step to understanding what the Aliens wanted us to do.
I showed it to him that night and he thanked me for returning his drawing, he’d wondered where he had misplaced it. He didn’t seem very worried for a man who was suddenly in possession of international*** state secrets. But maybe he was just playing things cool in case I was working for the Prime Minister.
* You may be wondering why a school gym had a fire escape, I mean it wasn’t as if it was series of running machines on top of a Yates Wine Lodge. The gym had a stage at one end and that was, of course, elevated, so needed a fire escape.
** A quad is the name at posho schools, like what I went to, for a quadrilateral playground, which of course you might think means all playgrounds. What do you mean you’ve never heard of playgrounds in a pentagonal shape? Only kidding, I think the quadrilateral part was to distinguish it from more natural grass-based playing fields. I mean you might think it’s ridiculous, but most people have to make do with just the word playground to mean both a space with swings in it and an empty rectangle of concrete where they could play at school. We just called the later a quad.
*** Or Galactic.