The Truth is Out

‘The truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.’

Elvis Presley

September 1969

Shortly before her eleventh birthday, Elizabeth sent Lisa away to boarding school.  She was still unaware of the real reason her father had left home, but she wouldn’t have to wait much longer to find out the truth. Some pubescent girls can switch on bitchiness as easily as flicking a light switch; others are just born bitches.

Lisa enjoyed playing sport and liked her PE teacher so would often stay behind to help put the equipment away, which meant that she would be last in her year to leave the changing rooms. Tucked away in the bowels of the building, they were the ideal place for a premeditated attack.

‘Look at those chubby little thighs over there!’ taunted Lady Caroline Armitage.  Her remark was followed by a cacophony of sniggering from her entourage of pretentious little friends.  Caroline was two years above Lisa and had a reputation for tormenting the new girls.  She did her best to ignore them and carried on getting changed as they crowded around her.

‘Well, well, well, look who we have here. Did you know girls that my father says that Lisa Grant’s father is a poof?’  She exhaled as she said the word poof for greater effect.  Spurred on by her sniggering friends, she enunciated her carefully chosen words very slowly.

‘A homo… a fairy… a willie woofter.’  She walked towards Lisa, slow exaggerated steps before moving in closer.  Standing over her she lowered her head to Lisa’s ear and whispered, ‘homosexual.’  She said the word very slowly and very precisely before spelling it out for greater effect H-O-M-O-S-E-X-U-A-L.

‘You know, like Jeremy Thorpe and Cary Grant? They prefer to snog men rather than women.’ Caroline started making kissing noises with her lips and the girlie giggles turned into deafening guffaws.

Lisa swallowed.  It felt like a stone was trying to force its way past her epiglottis.  Still focussed on tying her shoelaces, she wished the ground would open up and swallow her as Caroline’s tirade continued.

‘He went off with the polo player Thomas Cahoon, you know. My father plays polo with both Thomas Cahoon and Lisa Chubby-thighs Grant’s father… Fergusopoofto.The Poofy Boys, as my father calls them, or I should say he used to. It was all such a dreadful scandal for dear old Gloucestershire at the time.  Poor Mrs Grant had to pack the poofy pair off to Portugal.’  Her lips cracked open into a smug, irreverent smile.  Her diatribe was going so well, her victim had been rendered speechless and her entourage were in hysterics.

Lisa took a deep breath, still digesting what had been said and for the second time in her life, since decapitating her mother’s prized autumnals, she felt anger rising inside her. She stood up and looked Caroline directly in the eyes.  Her eyes giving way to the bubbling rage she felt inside, a look that Caroline found unnerving as she took a step backward.  Her henchmen gasped. Was this insignificant junior going to do the unthinkable and fight back?  As opposed to disintegrating into a snivelling, whimpering wreck.

Lisa had no idea what she was going to do or say, but her stifled anger would have poured out at some stage and it was about to be spewed all over a visibly retreating Caroline Armitage.  Lisa drew herself up to her full 5ft 2ins and leaned in towards Caroline.

‘Caroline Armitage!’ She was pleased; she sounded in control, as well as assertive and menacing. ‘If my father is a poof, how come I’m here?’  Caroline looked vacant.  ‘You hadn’t thought about that, had you?’ Lisa was prodding Caroline’s shoulder with her forefinger, just hard enough to make her flinch. ‘Or are you insinuating that I am the result of an immaculate conception?’  Thank goodness that, for a few minutes at least, she had paid attention during last week’s eternally boring scripture class. ‘I take it you know what Immaculate Conception means?  You are two years above me, so you bloody well should. I daresay that my mother would have something to say about it too because she said that giving birth was such a painful bloody process she would never do it again.’

She edged closer to Caroline who moved away and fell over a stray hockey stick.  Lisa laughed loudly and manically with an air of Count Dracula. Lisa Grant could be a bitch too.

‘Ha! Not so high and mighty now are you, Lady Caroline Armitage?  How does feel to be all the way down there?  That’s about as low as anyone can get.’

‘You can’t talk to me like that!  My father is the Queen’s cousin, six times removed!’

‘I don’t care who your father is related to and I will talk to you how I bloody well like as you insist on being so poisonous about my father. You and your father should get your facts straight before you start casting nasturtiums.’

‘Nasturtiums?’

‘Yes, nasturtiums… aspersions… whatever you want to call it…  just make sure you know what you are talking about in future before you open that grande bouche of yours.’

Caroline’s very large mouth was hanging open as she looked up nervously.  Lisa bent down to pick up the hockey stick and Caroline gave a little yelp, covering her face with her arms, thinking Lisa was going to hit her with it.

‘Oh, and one other thing, Caroline, in future, if you can’t say anything nice about people… don’t bloody well say anything at all.  Didn’t your mother ever tell you that?  Shame on her!’  And to end her Oscar-winning performance, Lisa flung the hockey stick against a wall and it bounced off falling to the floor, clattering, precariously close to Caroline’s head.

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