Bear with a sore head

Section 117 is being reduced to the bare necessities of life

Granting himself the luxury of tea and crumpets in the staff common room, he was aware that the plush chairs, the gilded ceiling and his beloved view of the park were soon to be but a memory of the past. Sensing an agitated presence next to him  brought him swiftly back into the very real presence.

Grin and bear it.

Grin and bear it.

“Jean-Luc, what is it? Have you found Émile?” Vernon whispered.

Jean Luc shook his head despondently and thrust a mobile phone into his hand. “No, but this is from him.” he whispered in conspirational tones, “I don’t get it; it seems to be in some kind of code. Why would he do that?”

Vernon studied the text which said; ‘Watch out for Bear with sore head. Bear with sore head bites deepest. Everybody knows his name.’

“He could be texting his mother to reassure her” Jean-Luc was saying, “and instead he’s writing cryptic messages. I think his role in the drama’s gone to his head.”

...bearing up.

…bearing up.

“Wait. Don’t be despondent Jean-Luc.” Vernon said excitedly, “Émile is showing more intelligence than I credited him with. This is something you need to know but he can’t tell you explicitly.”


Vernon felt his certainty dissipate a little. I’m not quite sure. Something about the big bear who everybody knows. We need to find which bear has a name everyone knows. Is it Paddington? Is it Tai Shan, that Panda?”

“The last one’s a long-shot.” Jean-Luc sat down heavily. “I suppose we’re going to have to identify all the bears Émile thinks we’re likely to know.”

Smokey bear

Smokey bear

“Good point. What bears will he think our generation have heard of? Yogi? Boo-boo? Smokey?”

“You need to get out more Vernon” Jean-Luc said glumly. “I don’t know any bears that everyone knows the name of. Oh wait; what about Fozzie Bear?” Jean-Luc sat quietly for a moment. “What about… what about a bear whose publicity makes that claim?”

“What d’you mean? Be quick, Mrs McGuin is heading this way.”

“I mean is there a bear associated with a jingle that claims universal fame or something?”

Bear with sore head

Bear with sore head

“Hello boys. Stilling plotting and scheming? How about channelling that energy into lesson planning instead? Sorry to see you’re leaving us Vernon. Still, I can’t say I’m surprised.” Mrs McGuin balanced on her high heels, head on one side, like a stalk eyeing the fish below the surface of a garden pond or an animated tripod topped with a badly mounted camera. When neither teacher took the bait she added crisply; “Step lively, you have bright young minds waiting and societies to enthuse.” Both grimaced involuntarily at her back as she strode out of the room in a manner that would have inspired Giacometti to sculpt.

“We’re onto something Jean-Luc. Let me know what you come up with but don’t make it explicit in any reply to Émile. He’s distancing himself from it somehow, I’m sure of it.”

Check out the Novel page for the story’s development


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