The subject for our writing group was something like ‘through the window’ , that might not have been its exact title but it was about windows. I was stumped as to what to write, and then for no reason at all, I imagined climbing out of a window, and then in another leap of imagination I began to write, and this is what I wrote (first draft so it will be polished up, and also it may lead into something longer!)
There was only one way to go, through the window. Now if it had been on the ground floor, no problem, open, out and run. Or if it had been like in those American movies where the window is by the fire escape, no probs, – out the window down the stairs and away… or actually, it could be up the stairs and onto the roof and away. But this window wasn’t on the ground floor and I wasn’t in an American movie. I was in a very small cubicle, one of two in the staff toilets, of the school where I taught, and the only way I could see out of my dilemma was out through the window.
In schools built at a certain time, lavatory windows were made of thick, greenish dimpled glass, the frames and latch were iron and painted so many times with corporation paint that they had a soft feel and the latch didn’t always shut properly. No doubt they were of regulation size, but there was some variation so this window, which for some strange reason was inside the cubicle, was just big enough to let me, yes even me, manage to get through. I had thought of head first, but obviously that wouldn’t work. I stood on the toilet bowl and threaded one leg through, then my bum, then the rest of me, and then the last leg so I was standing on the black roofing felt.
I pushed the window shut, no point in trying to lock it, pretty obvious it was the way I had disappeared from the toilet. I had left my wellies, placed in front of the toilet bowl so if anyone looked under the door they might possibly think I was still enthroned. A feeble delaying tactic, but it might just work.
Now what… I’d never imagined this scenario so stood on the roof of matron’s room, dithering and looking over the edge. The ornamental cherry trees were in full glorious bloom so I was invisible to anyone living in the bungalows opposite on Bellfield Avenue.
“Oi! Oi, miss!”
I glanced up. Parvis Ali was grinning down at me from the top of the second floor. “What are you up to then, miss, pegging off?”
He was on the actual roof of the school, I was just on the roof of the extension.
“Hi, Parvis, yes, I am actually, but not very successfully as now I’m, stuck!”
“Come up here miss, we can cut across the roof and drop down onto the music room. Sir will never notice when we climb down.”
Sir was Mr Hamilton, I never knew his first name, but he was a useless article, and his classes were always a riot, literally.
I had a moment’s pause on how to get up to the roof but panic and the sound of voices in the ladies toilet as Miss Evans the deputy head entered to find out why I was taking so long to have a simple pee, solved the dilemma. I used the pipes protruding from the wall and the ornamental brickwork to shimmy up to a position where Parvis could reach out his hand and help me get up onto the flat roof.
Parvis Ali was one of the naughtiest boys in the school but I had a definite soft spot for him, there was just something about his sparky sense of humour and lack of respect for authority which chimed with some inner naughty child in me.
He grinned at me in his goonish way without asking why I had climbed through the staff toilet window, or what was in the music case I was clutching. Without another word he led me across the flat roof littered with fag ends and drinks cans. On the other side of the building was the single story music block stuck out.How on earth could I get down?
There was a ladder, probably a maintenance ladder, metal and attached to the wall, no doubt the way Parvis had accessed his eyrie. It might have been daunting if I hadn’t felt somewhat pressed, but I sat on the edge of the roof and trying to seem in total control, managed to get both feet onto the rungs, the rest of me somewhat stuck out, and then trusting the whole thing wouldn’t pull away from the wall, descended.
Parvis took a scarier way which involved ledges and broken brickwork and the edge of a windowsill but we both got down in one piece. Now on the roof of the music block I had to somehow get to the ground. Adrenalin was beginning to leach away and in its place panic and a dawning realisation that I was an idiot.