‘This school has a long and glorious history and we welcome our new arrivals to this,’ the headmaster said, puffing out his broad chest. ‘Many of us have been teaching here for a long time. Decades. Centuries even. And if you glance to your left. No Podium, Your left. Not my left. If you look to my left you will only see the rota for bath taking, litter collecting, dish washing and toilet cleaning, and as noble and inspiring as this list may be, is it not half as noble and inspiring as the list on my right which features all those pupils who have attended this school and gone on to become famed and courageous fighters in that other country. Now I am aware that the new arrivals may have little notion of the other country, but panic not dear fledglings, you are in the right place to learn about it. Now,’ the headmaster twiddled his moustache with his right hand, ‘this is a place of adventure, excellence, reason and vision. You are about to experience another year of the possible and the impossible. Do so with an open mind and an open heart. Be patient with yourselves and each other, and eat plenty of Miss Martha’s food. You’ll need it to keep your strength up. I won’t take up too much more time. No doubt you are all hungry.’
Tiberius’s stomach rumbled on cue. Normal’s, full of pie, did not.
‘D’you like peanut butter and maple syrup sandwiches?’
It was sometime around midnight.Tiberius stuck his head up over the edge of the top bunk and grinned at Normal in the torchlight so that the glow made his face look a bit like a monster mask.‘This is the bit I’ve been waiting all summer for,’ Tiberius said. ‘Midnight feasts. How about a marshmallow and marmite cracker?’
Normal grimaced. ‘Really?’ he said. ‘Marshmallow and marmite?’
‘Try it,’ said Tiberius. ‘How do you know if you’ve never had it. I’ve made a decision to always try something before I decide to dislike it.’
‘Arsenic,’ said Normal.
‘Arsenic – you wouldn’t try that would you? Or cyanide. They’re both lethal poisons. Or putting your head down a toilet and pressing the flush. You wouldn’t try that either would you?’
‘No need to, Podium and Wagget are likely to try it for us if we’re not careful.’
Normal look alarmed. ‘Really?’
Tiberius laughed. ‘Who knows. Come on try some garlic and hamburger cake.’
‘Where do you get all this?’
‘It’s my mum. She’s a great cook. experiments all the time. She gets bored with ordinary recipes and likes to try new things. She says she’s going to send me a new cake each week if she can.’