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The Island Of Serenity
‘Your father works at the New Chapel Engineering works.’  ‘What of it?’ ‘My father owns  New Chapel Engineering.’ ‘So?’ ‘Are you really that stupid?’ ‘Your father wouldn’t sack my father.’ ‘Why don’t you go and ask him if my father’s capable of sacking someone because he didn’t like something that they had done, even outside of work.’ I didn’t offer to give him anything, and he didn’t ask. The next Monday, I got to school early, I was waiting at the gate for him.
‘What have you got in your pockets?’ ‘What’s it to you?’ ‘The shoe is now on the other foot, give me.’ And so he did. I could have shook down every kid in the school, and, from time to time, I did benefit from a subtly, veiled threat, but I was ‘sage’, I didn’t need to abuse that edge too often. Of course, by the time that Jay started school, everyone knew in advance, who he was, (I’d seen to that), so his school life was pretty much smooth sailing from day one. ‘Where is Marie-Madeleine?’ I asked, returning from school, one afternoon. ‘Elle ne travail plus chez nous.’ ‘What ? Since when ?’ ‘Vous-êtes grands, vous n’avez plus besoin d’elle. C’est reglé.’ I waited until J.J. returned that evening. ‘Is it true that Marie-Madeleine has been sacked?’ ‘Aye lad, she’s gone.’ ‘Just like that, like an old sock? After all that she’s done for us?’ ‘Your mother has decided that she is no longer useful, so she was given notice. After all, she was only an employee.’ ‘No, she wasn’t, she was family, she IS family.’ ‘I’m sorry Jamie, (he rarely called me by my middle name), but it was your mother’s decision, I just deal with the formalities.’ ‘But what will she do?’ ‘Oh I wouldn’t worry too much on her behalf, she’s a fine head on her shoulders. I’ve been thinking for some time that the factory would do well to have it’s own nursery and your mother has some friends that are looking to take some classes in French, both for themselves and for their children. Marie-Madeleine is not likely to starve.’  I was not at all placated; full of anger and righteous indignation, despite the lateness of the hour, I threw on my coat and ran over to her little house.
I did knock before rushing in, but only just. ‘Why hello Pierre-Alain, qu’est ce qui se passe?’ ‘I just found out that you have been …’, I didn’t get to finish my sentence, for I had just noticed that she wasn’t alone. ‘Oh, please let me introduce my new neighbour, Muriel Miller and this is her daughter, Angelique. And this crazy, young man, is the closest thing that I have to a son, Pierre-Alain James Ferguson.’ I stiffly shook the hand of the lady, ‘a pleasure.’ I then turned to the young woman, true to her name, here, facing me was, an honest to God angel. ‘Hi’, it was all that I could manage, I turned and ran out of the house as fast as I could, I felt like I was going to be sick.