This is the final instalment of the Ned Kelly saga. I was trying to tidy up my files the other day when I realised that I had left this half written. So let's see what happens. It would be best if you read the rest of the saga which starts with Ned Kelly's Hell, then Ned Solves a Problem, Ned Kelly's Luck, and Ned Kelly's Success, otherwise there will be references that won't make sense.
Ned stepped off the school bus on the first morning of the new school year, placing his cap, which he had had since the first form and was sadly mutilated, on his head as he crossed the seven or eight feet of pavement between the bus and the school grounds, and then removed it, and placed it in his pocket.
A large sixth form prefect appeared in front of him.
"You're not wearing your cap Kelly. You know the rules, you have to wear your cap on the way to and from school."
"Oh for Christ's sake Albert give it a rest. I suppose I have another year to put up with you. I really don't know why they let you come back.
"Because I'm a good student Kelly, that's why."
"Well you're a crap prefect Albert. Now piss off and find someone smaller than yourself to bully."
"I will get you this year, Kelly."
"In your dreams Albert, only in your dreams."
A good start to the new year thought Ned as he left Albert short for words.
It was a very different Ned Kelly to the one that had joined the fifth form the year before. He was taller and had filled out some of course, but he also had an indefinable air of confidence. Not the sort of confidence that Albert drew from his prefects badge, but the sort of confidence that comes from knowing yourself, and being reasonably happy with the fit of your skin.
Ned had worked hard in the last months of the previous year and had produced some sound exam results; not brilliant, but in the upper half of his year. Unfortunately most of his best subjects were sciences, and Ned now wanted to change to arts, and this was going to be difficult. One change was in his favour though, because along with a new head master, there was a new art master. The previous art master had taken a dislike to Ned in the fourth year, considering him, not without justification Ned would agree, to be a waste of space. However, he was aware that the change from sciences to arts would entail a fair bit of fast talking, particularly as the school prided itself on the number of university science places that its ex pupils attained.
Ned arrived in the lower sixth form room to be greeted by a number of familiar faces, and to miss a number that he would probably never see again.
There was a general chattering along the lines of 'What I did in my summer holidays' and then their form master arrived for registration. They settled down as the register was called, followed by:
"Kelly, the headmaster will see you after assembly."
And saying nothing more, their form master left.
"You in trouble already Kelly?" one of the other boys joked.
"Surely not," said another. "Even Ned couldn't achieve that."
Ned thought of Albert...
After assembly Ned made his way to the head masters study where, as was customary, he waited outside until summoned. In fact he had beaten the headmaster back after assembly and he had a few minutes to wait. That august gentleman arrived accompanied by a lady that Ned had only seen briefly standing on the stage during assembly. So obviously a staff member.
The new staff member, and then Ned, followed the headmaster into his study.
"Obviously I introduced my self at assembly," said the headmaster, "and this is Miss Green, our new art mistress. You are Gerald Kelly, but better known apparently as Ned. I trust you don't share your name sake's anarchic tendencies Kelly."
Ned did a quick appraisal of Miss Green. Mid twenties, he thought, verged on the Goth, nice figure, what he could see of it, and a nice smile too. That'll do for starters he thought.
"Now, I've heard from your mother that you want to change to art, and I understand that your photography is excellent, but do you think you are going to be able to cope? To start with you are going to have to take the ordinary level exam at Christmas as well as complete the advanced syllabus. You seem to be well thought of by most of my staff, and they tell me that you suddenly decided to take the bull by the horns last year and actually work. So I've decided that you can give it a go, but Miss Green here has the final say. She's agreed to take you on, a bit of a test for her, but you've three weeks to prove yourself, or you'll be out. That sound alright to you?
Ned grinned. "Yes, sir. I think I can do that."
"Over to you then Miss Green. Thankyou Ned."
Ned followed Miss Green out. She turned to him.
"I'll see you in the art room for second period Ned, I've got the second years for the first two periods so by then they should be settled," she said, and left him to go back to collect whatever equipment he thought he might need.
Ned pondered his luck, perhaps as his dad had told him, you make your own, and he had had a hand in the change of headmaster, but he reckoned that the lady herself was smiling when Miss Green was appointed, if old Quirk had still been art master his art career would have been down the toilet before it even started.
When Ned arrived in the art room the second year's were busily throwing paint at pieces of paper and flicking heavily laden brushes to form lines of paint drops.
"A short lecture on Jackson Pollock just to get them settled," said Miss Green with a big grin. "I expect I shall get complaints from other staff members at lunch time about the state of our charges," she went on. "Never mind, let's have a look at what you've done."
Ned had done some drawing in the later part of the summer holidays, when he had realised the direction he wished to take, and he had also persuaded both Bea and Di to pose for him, although with rather patchy results. They looked through the photographs first.
"Photography isn't my main subject area, Ned, but these are very good. I had heard something about you being good with a camera, but the way it was said made me wonder."
Ned thought of the series of photos that he had taken of the previous headmaster and the games mistress that had led to them both leaving and blushed.
"I see, somewhat embarrassing is it? Well we'll leave that for now." But she made a mental note to find out a bit more.
They came to the life drawings of Bea and Di. Miss Green paused.
"Well," she said thoughtfully, "your technique could do with quite a lot of work, and I think the examiners would like to see how you handle folds and drapes of cloth rather than bulges and wrinkles of skin. But interesting nevertheless."
Ned wondered if he could detect just a little jealousy there, neither Beatrice or Diana could be described that way. But then, he thought, they would be perfect to my eye.
By the end of the period, in between attending to her class, she outlined to Ned what he would need to do.
"I'll draw up a detailed list for you by tomorrow, particularly a reading list," she told him.
Ned left to go to his English lesson with a feeling that he would get on very well with Miss Green. It would be interesting to know what her first name was.
Ned arrived home to find his mother in high spirits. She grabbed hold of him and kissed him.
"Guess what? I passed my driving test!"
"Good heavens mother, do they really have examiners who are blind? Or did you expose your legs?"
"You cheeky monkey," laughed his mother. "Anyway, how was school?"
"Very good. The new art mistress seems nice, I think I shall get on well with her."
"Oh? How well? Are you going to seduce her?"
"Really mother! I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Oh don't you? I just wonder about you Gerald Kelly. I hear whispers, but I don't hear anything definite. I know you're not responsible for Gillian's baby, but there are a lot of ladies in this village who are singing your praises. I wonder why?"
"I can't think. I have no idea. I really..." Ned's bluster was cut off at that moment as Susie came crashing through the back door.
"Hi Ned. Hello mother ... have I interrupted something?"
"No, no dear, Ned and I were just having a chat. I'll put the kettle on, she said, resorting to the typically English cover for and awkward moment.
Susie breezed on through to go to her room, and Ned took the opportunity to sidle towards the door.
"I will find out Ned," his mother said, and she grinned. "If I'm going to be a granny I want to know who the mother is."
A red faced Ned scrambled out of the door and fled to his room. Actually, he thought, if she didn't know who the mother was she wouldn't know whether she was a grandmother or not.
A few minutes later Susie came into his room.
"Knock, knock," said Ned.
"Don't be silly Ned! Anyway, what was mother on to you about? There was a definite embarrassed silence when I came in."
"Oh well..." he began. "Mother suspects that I've been doing things."
"What do you mean 'doing things'? Oh! You mean Beatrice and Diana? And are there others I don't know about?"
"Of course not!" lied Ned.
.... There is more of this story ...