Непредвиденная вакансия - Часть первая - Былые дни IV
In spite of Yarvil Council’s bland assurances that maintenance of the new estate would be its own responsibility, Pagford – as the furious townsfolk had predicted from the first – was soon landed with new bills. While the provision of most services to the Fields, and the upkeep of its houses, fell to Yarvil Council, there remained matters that the city, in its lofty way, delegated to the parish: the maintenance of public footpaths, of lighting and public seating, of bus shelters and common land.
Graffiti blossomed on the bridges spanning the Pagford to Yarvil road; Fields bus shelters were vandalized; Fields teenagers strewed the play park with beer bottles and threw rocks at the street lamps. A local footpath, much favoured by tourists and ramblers, became a popular spot for Fields youths to congregate, ‘and worse’, as Howard Mollison’s mother put it darkly. It fell to Pagford Parish Council to clean, to repair and to replace, and the funds dispersed by Yarvil were felt from the first to be inadequate for the time and expense required.
No part of Pagford’s unwanted burden caused more fury or bitterness than the fact that Fields children now fell inside the catchment area of St Thomas’s Church of England Primary School. Young Fielders had the right to don the coveted blue and white uniform, to play in the yard beside the foundation stone laid by Lady Charlotte Sweetlove and to deafen the tiny classrooms with their strident Yarvil accents.
It swiftly became common lore in Pagford that houses in the Fields had become the prize and goal of every benefit-supported Yarvil family with school-age children; that there was a great ongoing scramble across the boundary line from the Cantermill Estate, much as Mexicans streamed into Texas. Their beautiful St Thomas’s – a magnet for professional commuters to Yarvil, who were attracted by the tiny classes, the rolltop desks, the aged stone building and the lush green playing field – would be overrun and swamped by the offspring of scroungers, addicts and mothers whose children had all been fathered by different men.
This nightmarish scenario had never been fully realized, because while there were undoubtedly advantages to St Thomas’s there were also drawbacks: the need to buy the uniform, or else to fill in all the forms required to qualify for assistance for the same; the necessity of attaining bus passes, and of getting up earlier to ensure that the children arrived at school on time. Some households in the Fields found these onerous obstacles, and their children were absorbed instead by the large plain-clothes primary school that had been built to serve the Cantermill Estate. Most of the Fields pupils who came to St Thomas’s blended in well with their peers in Pagford; some, indeed, were admitted to be perfectly nice children. Thus Barry Fairbrother had moved up through the school, a popular and clever class clown, only occasionally noticing that the smile of a Pagford parent stiffened when he mentioned the place where he lived.
Nevertheless, St Thomas’s was sometimes forced to take in a Fields pupil of undeniably disruptive nature. Krystal Weedon had been living with her great-grandmother in Hope Street when the time came for her to start school, so that there was really no way of stopping her coming, even though, when she moved back to the Fields with her mother at the age of eight, there were high hopes locally that she would leave St Thomas’s for good.
Krystal’s slow passage up the school had resembled the passage of a goat through the body of a boa constrictor, being highly visible and uncomfortable for both parties concerned. Not that Krystal was always in class: for much of her career at St Thomas’s she had been taught one-on-one by a special teacher.
By a malign stroke of fate, Krystal had been in the same class as Howard and Shirley’s eldest granddaughter, Lexie. Krystal had once hit Lexie Mollison so hard in the face that she had knocked out two of her teeth. That they had already been wobbly was not felt, by Lexie’s parents and grandparents, to be much of an extenuation.
It was the conviction that whole classes of Krystals would be waiting for their daughters at Winterdown Comprehensive that finally decided Miles and Samantha Mollison on removing both their daughters to St Anne’s, the private girls’ school in Yarvil, where they had become weekly boarders. The fact that his granddaughters had been driven out of their rightful places by Krystal Weedon, swiftly became one of Howard’s favourite conversational examples of the estate’s nefarious influence on Pagford life.
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