Charles Trowler was e-mailing. Nothing special in that, you might think, but then the person he was e-mailing was sitting right next to him. It was his mother.

“Did u have a good day today?” she enquired.

“Yes not bad,” he replied. “Oxford Durham and Brunel all said no but I’ve got a yes from Sharp Holme so I spose I’ll be going there next term.”

“Ooooooh, I’m so excited! I’ll take you out for your fave tonite.”

So saying they both put their laptops on standby, put them under their arms and set off for the local MacDonald’s.

Charles’ mother knew her son backwards. She ordered a burger and fries and asked for the fries not to touch the burger. She also ordered a Coke. She ordered a large portion of fries with no burger for herself. This was their ritual – they always did this for special occasions.

They sat down and started to eat in silence. One of the fries was very hot. Charles immediately whipped out his laptop and got onto Facebook. He gave as his status update: “I’ve just burnt my mouth on a chip LOL!”

He immediately got this comment “liked” by several people, including his mother. He also got a few, “A poooooor u” and “OUCH!” and “i like chips” comments as well.

To his horror, one of the chips was touching the burger. He immediately stopped eating and started to sulk.

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. 

Kelly MacMiche was standing in the History Department’s corridor. A boy came past whom she hadn’t seen before. Mind you she had only been on Sharp Holme a couple of days so it wasn’t surprising.

She pointedly combed her hair and tutted, hoping he’d ask who she was. He didn’t. He just stood there.

“Didn’t your mother tell you it’s rude to stare?” she asked.


“Can’t you speak properly?”


“Which course are you doing, you boring little boy?”


“Yes, you’d need to, wouldn’t you? Perhaps you’ll learn how to say more than just ‘er’.”

“Er, yeah?”

“Do you know what you need?” asked Kelly imperiously. “You need to be spanked on your bare bottom until you cry out for mercy. It’s a tough job but I’d volunteer. Cruel to be kind, you know. You’d thank me for it one day.”

“Er, no?”

Kelly marched over to the boy, turned him around and started spanking him. She only got three smacks in before he physically pulled her hand away from his rear end.

“I was just trying to knock some sense into you. This isn’t Linguistics anyway. That’s through those double doors. This is History. Unless you want to join us and do History?”

“Er, no?” he muttered and went through the double doors and disappeared. Peasant! Kelly later discovered the boy’s name was Charles.

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. 

Charles got back to his room at 4:30 that afternoon. He’d finished all his lectures for the day and had been set an essay on the Equative, Comparative and Superlative in Indo-European Languages. He had five weeks to do the essay in. He decided to do it right now. He took his entire Spanish and French collections from the shelf along with the book on Indo-European languages which he’d bought today and the three books he’d borrowed from the library. He also, of course, switched his computer from “standby” to “on” and his fingers started to race across the Internet and across his Word document…

By 8:30 pm he had finished the essay. He decided to go out to get some food. To his annoyance there were no MacDonalds on the island. He had to settle for a greasy spoon place. When he asked for them to put the chips on a separate plate from the burger, they laughed at him. Charles was very cross but decided he’d keep eating at this place every day. For one thing there were very few students in here - that made it much more bearable than the students’ canteen. For another this place was in the West Bay, where his room was, and saved him going all the way back down to the South Bay where the university was. And anyway Charles Trowler was a creature of habit.

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. 

Manda Josso poured herself another glass of orange, mango and vodka smoothie and began to sip it as she relaxed back into her Queen Anne chair.

The door opened and her husband breezed in.

“Busy as ever?” he asked.

“Well, as a matter of fact…” she began.

“Obviously not,” he said dismissively, answering his own question as he began racing around the house picking up files from various places and shouting the rest of the conversation down to his wife. “I’ve been called out again, unfortunately. Bloody nuisance actually. I’ve ordered dinner for you here. You’re having lobster tonight with caramelised chicken à la crème. And to wash it all down I’ve ordered a Château Des Fesseurs 1973 – not that you’ll need it after that lot. Any problems?”

“Thank you, darling, but…”

“No? Splendid.”

Mr. Josso had now collected all the files he needed, popped into the drawing room to give his wife a kiss goodbye and then made towards the door.

“It’s just that…” began Manda.


“Well, while you’re visiting your little girlfriends I do get a bit lonely. Couldn’t I go out to dinner rather than eating it in here?”

“They’re not girlfriends.”

“No, of course not, but I would like to dine out occasionally. Maybe even take a friend with me?”

“Yes, of course. I’ll cancel the meal here and I’ll order you a table for two for 7 pm at La Fesse de la Mer. You and your… friend can enjoy dinner together while I labour away with my interminable business.”

He kissed his wife, said “goodbye” and disappeared through the front door and towards his private helicopter, his mobile 'phone pressed to his ear as he cancelled the original dinner he’d ordered his wife.

Where could Manda find someone to share her dinner with her? Preferably someone male. Someone young – oh, she loved young ‘uns! And she’d love to see her husband’s face if he burst in on her and found her flirting with some 18-year-old boy. Two could play at his game. Manda smiled as she drained her glass and poured herself another smoothie. How deliciously naughty!

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …

Charles had now been at the college for nine weeks. He had completed all of his assignments and had nothing to do. Actually there was always a lot to do. He got back to his room at 5 pm. Excellent! He got onto the Lamppost Appreciation Forum and apologised for his absence before laying into the FM (Forum Member) called QRyUp for his / her comments towards QQQQQQ3 over her love of the Philips MA 50 street light. This turned into quite a fight and Charles was about to be given a stiff warning by a moderator when he decided to switch over to Facebook. He updated his status with: “I’ve just got into trouble with the Lamppost Appreciation Mod for defending a lady’s honour!” He received comments like, “A poooooor u” and “i don’t like mods their up their own arses”.

Happy with this support from his friends he then switched to Youtube. He found the most watched vid at the time was a Donald Duck one. Underneath it there was a blazing row going on.

“If I ever see you you SOB youll PAY THE PRICE you FUCKFACE” said one of the two people arguing.

“Oh yea oh yea yr all mouth and no trousiz i see u i burn to the nougt out of u u COCKSUCKER!”

Charles decided to join in.

“Why don’t you both STFU you losers? If I catch either of you commenting like this again on a kids’ cartoon like this I’ll maim you both. You bastards!”

He immediately received some abuse back from one and fended it off then did a quick back-handed parry to head the second one off at the pass. He then went onto Facebook to update his friends on how well he was doing in his Youtube battle. Ah, this was the life! What could be better than this?

After a while he decided it was time for dinner so decided to put his laptop under his arm and go to his favourite greasy spoon. On his way he met a woman in her fifties with long blonde hair, a blue flowing dress with flowers on it, a golden necklace and discreet eyeliner. Most boys of his age would have gone wild at the sight. But not Charles. He didn’t fancy humans.

“Excuse me,” said the woman.

“Er?” answered Charles.

“Are you a student here?”

“Er, yeah?” he answered.

“Off to see your friends?”

“Er, no?”

“Anyway I’m trying to get up the hill to the North Bay but my car seems to have broken down. I couldn’t ask you to help push it, could I?”

“Er, OK."

And Charles got pushing. He instantly recognized it as a really expensive Merc worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. And from his time on the Mercedes Forum he knew what it was. When he had finished pushing and got the engine going, the woman got out.

“Thank you so much. It’s not a bad little car but we do have problems with it from time to time,” said the woman.

“Er… Mercedes-Benz McLaren 722?” muttered Charles.

“Yes. Yes, you’re absolutely right. You’re a clever boy, aren’t you, as well as being a very good pusher! Well, thanks to you I can get up to the North Bay now for dinner. Why don’t you come in too as you helped to push? You deserve a treat.”

“Er, OK.”

The woman drove Charles up the hill and he sat there in silence, marvelling at the car.

On the way the woman pressed some numbers into her 'phone. It immediately started to ring.

“What? Really? You can’t come? Oh, what a shame. Well, if you insist. It’d be a shame for it to go to waste. Funnily enough, I’ve got someone right here. Yes, absolutely. ’Bye,” she gabbled at a rate of knots. Charles wondered how the person at the other end had managed to say anything. It was almost as if she’d made the device ring and then spoken into a silent ‘phone but then obviously she was old so she wouldn’t do a thing like that.

“Well, it’s your lucky night,” said the woman. “My friend’s had to cancel and the table’s already been booked for two people. The restaurant won’t accept just one person turning up when it’s booked for two so you’ll just have to come too. That’s if you don’t mind dining out at the most glamorous restaurant on the island?”

“Er, no?” said Charles. He started to sulk, thinking about the burger and chips he’d been looking forward to. He hoped she’d notice that he’d gone all quiet. For some reason she didn’t pick up on it.

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …

The Fesse de la Mer was everything Charles hated. Everyone in it was posh. The men were all in black and had ties. No-one apart from him had even bothered to bring their laptops with them. They were all talking and laughing loudly. They even seemed to flout the smoking rules of the Mainland here – there were some men smoking big cigars. The food looked awful. It didn’t look English at all. And there was music playing. He wasn’t sure but he thought it was jazz. They hadn’t even bothered to get a CD-player in here – they’d actually hired a man to play the piano live! And the women were going up to the man playing the piano and bending over the piano for some reason. Everyone was old. Apart from him the youngest person was about 30! Not that he’d have wanted to speak to them if they had been his own age of course but this was just terrible.

The woman introduced herself as Manda and found out Charles’ name. She asked if he’d wondered why she’d been drinking and driving. When he didn’t answer she said how tactful he was and explained that she could do what she liked here but that it was a secret why. When he failed to respond to that she ordered a bottle of champagne and poured herself out two glasses.

“No. Don’t drink?” he said.

“Sensible boy. Bottoms up!”

She asked what he wanted and he said he wanted a burger and some chips. She laughed and said they didn’t do things like that there. He tried another sulk but she again seemed oblivious to his going on talking-strike. She showed him the menu and explained what all of the wonderful things were. He said he didn’t want any and that he’d be back in a minute as he needed to pop out and get a Mars Bar and a Coke. Manda insisted he remain seated and called over to the waiter.


“A, bonjour, Monsieur. Est-ce que mon ami peut avoir un Coca-Cola avec deux Mars Bars, s’il vous plaît?”

“I’m very sorry, Madame, but…”

“Look, who pays your fucking wages?” yelled Manda, losing her cool. “It’s my husband, isn’t it? Now, go and make it happen and I’ll pay you what you like.” Then she changed personality again. “Darling.” And she smiled disarmingly at the waiter and stroked his arm.

“Très bien, Madame.”

“Oh, and a burger and chips for him as well please.”

“Très bien, Madame.”

“Er, don’t let the burger touch the chips,” said Charles. “Two different plates, please.”

“You heard the man,” said Manda.

“Madame,” said the waiter, bowing.

Manda explained that she and her husband were the only people on the island who were allowed their own private car and they were the only ones who entered the island at the North Bay rather than the West Bay. And they used a helicopter, not a boat. And she gave a wink. When Charles didn’t respond, Manda spelled it out.

“My husband owns the island but don’t tell anyone. It’s like… shhhhhh!”

“Er, yeah?” said Charles.

“Quite right. I can trust you not to say anything. Bottoms up.”

Charles got his laptop out and gave another bulletin to the masses who followed him on Facebook, letting them know he was about to have burger and chips. His many friends immediately responded with, “A luuuuuucky u” and “YUM!” and "i like burger and chips" and other such pearls of wisdom.

“It’s a funny expression, bottoms up, isn’t it?” asked Manda as she drained her third glass of champagne in ten minutes and looked curiously at Charles.

“It makes me think of the old days when they used to cane boys’ bottoms. That must have been awful, mustn’t it?”

“Er, yeah?” said Charles.

Manda’s roast hake with sea fennel mash and poached oysters arrived along with her second bottle of Champagne. Simultaneously Charles’ burger, chips, Mars Bars and Coke arrived.

An elderly gentleman in the corner put on his monocle and stared at Charles’ meal and said, “Good Lord!”

Manda finished her glass and poured herself out another. “I mean, imagine if your teachers had beaten you like that. You poor thing. That would really have hurt, wouldn’t it?”

“Er, yeah?”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Er, no? There’s a girl who followed me around a bit at the start of term…”

“She sounds like a bitch. Cheers. No, I was just thinking about the old days. I do feel sorry for you, having to bend over like that… well, not that it happened to you but it could have and you seem such a gentle sort and just imagine the cold air around you as you pulled down your pants and the…”

The waiter returned.

“How is the meal, Madame?”

“Fuck off, I’m trying to talk to the kid.”

“Très bien, Madame.”

“Who was your scariest teacher at school?”

“Er, Mr. Muller?”

“Did he ever hit you? I mean, I know it’s illegal but did he ever say, ‘I’ve had enough. Touch your toes, boy’. You must have been shaking.”

“Er, no?”

“Yes, but what would he have sounded like if he had? Go on!”

“I don’t know.”

“Yes you do, come on, you’re getting a free supper for fuck’s sake! What would he have said if he’d wanted to cane you on your backside?”

“Er, bend over boy?”

Manda was really shouting by this time as she drunkenly imitated his imitation.

“’BEND OVER, BOY!’ That’s how he’d have gone.” She stood up and began to act out the strokes of the cane. “He’d have said, “’Take that one! And that one! And that one!’ And you’d have been howling after each stroke. How deliciously evil! Mind you you don’t say much – you’d probably have been silent. Taken it like a man, you’d have done, Charles. Maybe later on we should see if I’m right? I could give you a caning. I know I’m right. I don’t imagine you’d have cried out.”

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. ….

Mr. Josso landed safely again and ordered a car to his favourite restaurant. When he arrived he saw that the head waiter had just resigned but no-one could find out why.

He demanded an explanation.

“I will not be pushed, stamped, filed, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or numbered,” said the head waiter.

“WHY WHY WHY DID YOU RESIGN?” demanded Mr. Josso, grabbing the man by the lapels.

“I resigned because I’ve been feeling, for some time now… what on Earth?”

They both turned to see Manda kneeling on the back of a tall skinny youth’s legs, holding his back down on the ground with one hand and beating him on the bottom with a Coke bottle. The lid was off and the drink was flying everywhere. The boy was making no sound. Manda’s hair was all over the place. There was a determined look on her face.

“Hello, darling” she said without looking up. “Just trying an experiment here.”

She stopped and released Charles.

“This is my husband. See, I said you wouldn’t scream!”

“Hello, I’m the husband of the woman who’s been spanking you,” said Mr. Josso.

“Er, yeah?” said Charles as he stood painfully up.

“I see my wife’s been treating you to a meal. That’s very kind of her. Oh, what have we here? A Mars Bar wrapper? Darling, you ought to have gone for someone with a little more class.”

As the Jossos began arguing about his alleged girlfriends and her alleged boyfriends, Charles got back to his laptop. He put in another Facebook update. “Help! I’m in a restaurant full of nutters!” he stated before escaping from the world into one of his favourite sites.

“Hasn’t anyone told you it’s rude to bring your work to the table? Let’s see that,” said Mr. Josso, grabbing the laptop and studying the screen. “Bloody hell!”

“Don’t be hard on the boy," begged Manda. "Absolutely nothing happened between us.”

“Do you know, darling, I believe you!” said her husband.

They all sat down quietly.

“Have a glass of Champagne. And put your computer away.”

“Er, don’t drink?”

“My wife went to a lot of trouble to pick you up. Sit down and have some Champagne.”

“Erm, don’t like alcohol?”

“You’re being offered bloody Champagne,” said Mr. Josso. “You do like it. Get it down you.”

After Charles had been forced to drink a couple of glasses of Champagne an odd feeling came over him.

“Now tell my wife whether you fancy her.”

“Er, no?”

“He’s telling the truth," said Mr. Josso. “Have another glass, Charles.”

“Feeling a bit sick?” said Charles.

“I said have another glass.”

Charles drank the glass, feeling most peculiar.“You’re not gay, are you?” asked Manda.

“He doesn’t know whether they’re male or female when he fancies them do you, Charles? My dear, the next time you try to make me feel jealous, try to pick someone who doesn’t sit there e-mailing at the table, who can handle more than one glass of alcohol, who doesn’t bring fucking Mars Bars into the best restaurant in Devon and who actually fancies human beings. Charles? Anything you’d like to tell us?”

“Foxes,” said Charles, “I fancy foxes. They’re so gorgeous and sexy. I want to get married to one. Any of them.” And he passed out.

Mr. Josso laughed as he smoked his cigar.

“Nice try, Manda. Drive this arsehole back to his slimepit. Stay the night with him – you haven’t got the strength to drive there and back. And get yourself back home tomorrow. We won’t mention this again.”

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. ….

And so it came to pass that people saw an expensive Merc swerving dangerously from one side of the road to the other before being parked right across the road blocking everyone’s exit. Then they saw the most stylish and attractive woman in Sharp Holme stagger out with a semi-conscious boy and get into his student digs with him. The sound of a boy’s bottom being well spanked soon filled the air.

“He’s a lucky sod, isn’t he?” asked some people.

Others just shrugged at the whole thing.

“Ah, well,” they said. “That’s Sharp Holme for you.”


The End

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