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Authors: John Marsden,John Marsden

Take My Word for It

BOOK: Take My Word for It
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Mixing writing and teaching with equal enthusiasm, John Marsden has published forty books in between various educational adventures. For eight years he ran writing camps at his home in the Macedon Ranges, near Hanging Rock, Victoria, but he is now Principal of a school he founded in 2006, Candlebark, on 1100 acres of beautiful natural bush.

Among John's best-known books are
Tomorrow, When the War Began; So Much to Tell You; Hamlet; Letters from the Inside; Checkers;

Recently he wrote the libretto for a highly successful children's opera,
Lost to the Music
, commissioned by the National Boys' Choir.

John and his partner Kris live in an old nunnery, where they are raising six boys, aged five to fifteen, in an atmosphere of cheerful chaos.

Also by John Marsden

So Much to Tell You

The Journey

The Great Gatenby

Staying Alive in Year 5

Out of Time

Letters from the Inside

Take My Word for It

Looking for Trouble

Tomorrow . . . (Ed.)

Cool School

Creep Street


For Weddings and a Funeral (Ed.)

This I Believe (Ed.)

Dear Miffy

Prayer for the 21st Century

Everything I Know About Writing

Secret Men's Business

Series 1999 Diary

The Rabbits

Norton's Hut

Marsden on Marsden


The Head Book

The Boy You Brought Home

The Magic Rainforest


A Roomful of Magic


Tomorrow, When the War Began

The Dead of the Night

The Third Day, the Frost

Darkness, Be My Friend

Burning for Revenge

The Night is for Hunting

The Other Side of Dawn

The Ellie Chronicles

While I Live


Circle of Flight

Pan Macmillan Australia

John Marsden's website can be visited at:

The characters and events in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

First published 1992 in hardback by Pan Macmillan Publishers Australia
First Pan paperback edition published 1993 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
This Pan edition published 2001 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
1 Market Street, Sydney

Copyright © JLM Pty Ltd 1992

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Marsden, John, 1950-.
Take my word for it.

ISBN 978-1-74334-618-1

I. Title.



This electronic edition published in 2012 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
1 Market Street, Sydney 2000

Copyright © John Marsden 1992

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. This publication (or any part of it) may not be reproduced or transmitted, copied, stored, distributed or otherwise made available by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical) or by any means (photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise) without prior written permission from the publisher.

This ebook may not include illustrations and/or photographs that may have been in the print edition.

Marsden, John.

Take my word for it.

EPUB format 978-1-74334-618-1

Macmillan Digital Australia

to read more about all our books and to buy both print and ebooks online. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events.

To Jeremy Madin, one of my teachers.


Thanks to the following for some of the stories in this book: Will Bowman, Adam Butterworth, Jenni Conner, Claire Coombe, Amy Curnow, Natalie Deans, Jonathan Geddes, Lucinda Gubbins, Sarah Morgan, Kate Mortimer, Angus Rigby, Josh Roydhouse, Nerissa Rutledge, Peta Sherwood, Sarah Tobias, Julia Utz, Tom Watson.

Special thanks to Emma Lee, Danielle Cooper and Jo Hayman for information and advice on rowing.

Special thanks to Mrs Margaret Hagger and Anthony White, Robert Paganin, Andrew Lampert, Kate Wignell and Catherine Pierce, for help in preparing the manuscript, and also to Jessica Russell. Lots of thanks to Elizabeth and Andrew Farran for help with typing.

And special thanks to Bec Joyce.


This seems an appropriate time to thank also people who, usually unwittingly, contributed stories to
So Much to Tell You
. They include Erle Cramer, Jenny de Goursât, Brian Morris, Jim Wild, Olivia Plumbridge, Tessa Harmer, Ann Poyser, Fiona Koch, Emma Crombie, Fleur Spriggs, Jodie Foreman, Kate McPhee, Ilka Rowe, Clive Moffat, Sir James Darling, Rebecca Joyce, and the late, much loved David Weeding. And of course John Mazur, Kay Nesbitt, whom I've never met, and the original ‘Marina', whom I met briefly in Sydney around 1969.


Also by John Marsden

Title Page




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Hi Journal, Mr Lindell, whoever's reading this. My name's Lisa. Not Sad Lisa, like in the song; more like the nursery rhyme:

What's become of poor old Lisa

Why's she sitting up a tree sir?

Won't she wave to you or me sir?

Can she see what we can't see sir?

I used to love that when I was little. There're not too many poems about Lisa, because it doesn't rhyme with much. Just ‘mesa' in Geography, and I don't even know what that is. A kind of plateau, I think.

Is this what we're meant to do with these Journals, Mr Lindell? Rattle away like a train in a tunnel? Seems pretty slack, if you don't mind my saying so. Shouldn't we be doing subjects and predicates, like we did with Mr Aspen? Do you remember Tarryn Mortimer, who you taught last year? She used to say she hoped I'd get you for English, but I don't know if I'll like your style. At least it should be interesting—I just don't know if it'll help us pass exams.

Think I'd better do my Maths before I get in trouble tomorrow. Goodnight Journal, from me and Alex the Bear.


Dear Journal and Mr Lindell: Mr Lindell, I think it's a bit of a rip-off when you don't read these, because how will you see if we're improving, or using them properly? I didn't mean to be rude in class but I think it's all a bit pointless, and I usually say what I think (which is why teachers don't like me much).

Alex the Bear would like to say ‘Hello' but he's not feeling well. He was chucked out of the dorm window last night by a certain person whose name I won't mention because I don't dob, but it starts with ‘C' and ends with ‘y' and has five letters. Anyway, this all happened after lights out, and I had to go down and rescue him without getting caught, which is not easy round here. And he was lying in MUD, which he does not like (why should he, poor little bear?). I think he thought it was Vegemite, which he does like so he was a bit confused.

Anyway he had to have a bath, and he's still upset.

I'll get Cathy back tomorrow—by the time I'm finished with her teddy he'll be stuffed in more ways than one.

Cathy's good value but generally this is not a great dorm. Everyone keeps asking us about the new girl, Marina. ‘What's she really like?' How should we know? She doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with us, although I know it's not really us (Mrs Graham explained all that). But no-one comes near our dorm—we hardly get any visitors. They all go to Dorm D, where Kerry and Gabrielle are. I know it's not Marina's fault, but still.

I'm looking right at her now, because I've pulled my desk around a bit to get near the window. She's huddled over her books, like a hunchback. She doesn't seem to see or notice anything, and she never looks in anyone's eyes. She never even looks at their face. Her hair's quite long, dark, and she's got it tied back tonight. Usually it hangs long down either side of her face. The right side of her face is fine but the left half, the side I'm looking at, is a bit of a mess. It's all crinkly and wrinkly and red. You know how skin's meant to be soft—well, this part of her face looks hard and plasticy. In fact her face looks like a plastic plate that's been put on a hot stove. It's not easy to look at her.


I did all my other Prep first tonight, so now I've got a bit of time to write in this. There's only one problem—I've got nothing to say. Nothing happened today. This was a day of nothing. A nothing day that was full of nothing, all day long. Nothing, nutting, nothing.

Friday night's the worst for Prep. No-one's in a mood to do any work, and they always put the strictest teachers and prefects on duty. Mrs Graham, for example, and Marisa Chan. Marisa's sweet, but you wouldn't want to be on her wrong side. Tracey didn't do her job this morning (she's on Dorm Vac). Marisa went and found her and told her to do it, but Trace just went to breakfast anyway. Melt down! Marisa met her coming out of the Dining Hall, and I swear, it made Krakatoa look like a fart in a bathtub. I've never seen Trace move so fast.

Marisa'll be a good House Captain I think. At least you know where you are with her, and she's not corrupt like last year's prefects. They all smoked and drank, but they busted other people for doing the same things. And they made us buy stuff for them at the tuckshop all the time, out of our own money. To tell you the truth, I'd love to be House Captain, even though I know I haven't got much chance. I won't be campaigning for it—there's no point. I've made too many enemies.

We vote every year for prefects but I don't know how much notice Mrs Graham takes of it. She says she does, but I doubt it. Marisa would have won the students' vote, but I don't think Sally Becker should have been Vice Captain, and I'm sure hardly anyone would have voted for Skye Bayliss last year. I know I didn't.


Hi Journal, how are you today? Hope you had a good weekend. I didn't open you once. But I admit I thought about you. A few times things happened and I thought, ‘I might write about that in my Journal.' I can see how there's a danger of getting hooked on you.

I've never kept a Diary before. What's the difference between a Journal and a Diary, Mr Lindell? Must ask you in class.

I got in a few fights at the weekend. First weekend back—great start. I just don't like this dorm much. I was in a good one for the second half of last year, with my best friends, Issy Eastwood and Kizzy Tan. Issy, Kizzy and Lizzy, that's us. Now they're both in Dorm C and I'm on my own in B. The way they pick the dorms is really off. You write down two people you want to be with and two people you don't, but it's a bit like voting for prefects. I reckon Mrs Graham shoves the papers through the shredder. She seems to set out to break up every friendship she can. Term one last year she filled the dorm next to her flat with all the quiet, well-behaved kids. It was so obvious. We called it Square Dorm. This year there's one that's got nearly all Asian kids, and Kate calls that Chinatown. Kate's one person I put that I didn't want to be with, but here she is, in the very next bed. I remember when she started at Warrington, halfway through last year. So funny. She came storming in with about six suitcases, dropped them all in a heap on the floor, kicked one of them across the room and said: ‘Geez I hate this place.' From the look of the cases you'd have thought she was a real splendo, but she didn't talk like one. I knew her sister a bit—she was kind to me when I first arrived (she was a prefect)—but she was even louder than Kate, and her parties were legendary.

Anyway, Kate wasn't too bad to share with for two terms but I don't know how I'll put up with a second year.

I thought Sophie Smith would be a pain in the butt too, but she's been OK so far.

The one who really drives me to the North Pole is Ann Maltin. She makes me so mad! I want to pick her up and shake some life into her. Basically, she's a suck. ‘Oh Mrs Graham, you haven't signed our Prep Diaries.' ‘Mr Bostock, you forgot to set any Prep.' ‘Miss Curzon, do you want me to do Marina's job for her?' I'm the one who does Marina's job nearly every morning, but Ann gets all the credit. I hate people like that.

That brings me to Marina. Now honestly Mr Lindell, do you think the school should take students like Marina? I mean, I've got nothing against her, but I reckon it's cruel sending her to boarding school. She should be in a hospital or something. And it's hard on us, not just because of jobs and stuff, but because she depresses everyone. People go quiet when she comes in. And the way she keeps to the walls. And her face—I couldn't look at her at first. I guess we'll get used to her eventually, but I hope she doesn't get worse, being with us. I wouldn't be surprised. We're not a very good influence on anyone.

Do you think she used to be pretty, Mr Lindell? I think she might have been. The first time I saw her, her back was to me, and because she's got a good figure I was expecting her to be good-looking, you know how you do. But when she turned round I just gasped—I couldn't help it. I've felt mega-guilty about that ever since. I hope she didn't notice. Her face is so . . . I don't know . . . raw looking. And around her eyes—I suppose she's had plastic surgery—have you noticed those little ridges and lines? It makes my eyes water to look at them.

The thing is, she's got beautiful eyes, but you don't notice them till you force yourself to look at her properly. Now I love her eyes—they're so dark and deep and soft.

I reckon they should have done to her father what he did to her. They should have boiled him in it.


I'm so depressed tonight. This place grinds me down sometimes. It's not really the school this time though; it's a story that Emma wrote, that she gave me to read. It's called ‘Over The Edge' and it's about a kid who gets dumped on once too often by his parents and he ends up O.D'ing. It just had a bad effect on me, reading it.


Yikes, you take a few nights off, and suddenly you've missed a week of this thing. It's definitely Mr Lindell's fault. If he checked them properly I'd do it properly. Oh well. I'll try to write a bit tonight, but I'm so stuffed after tennis all afternoon, then we had to do two chapters of Science and a Maths worksheet. Plus there's a French test tomorrow . . . irregular verbs. All of them seem irregular to me.

Chloe came down to see me yesterday. It was hard talking to her. She brought some tuck, which was good, and her new boyfriend, a guy called Hamish. I swear, she has a new boyfriend every week. Last Christmas she bought a card with ‘To My Boyfriend' on the front, but she made sure she didn't fill in a name till the last minute. Anyway, I suppose I should be glad she came. At least she's trying. But why can't I talk properly to her? She asked me what subjects I was doing, what the teachers were like, what my dorm was like, if I needed any money, whether I'd heard from Mum or Dad. I asked her who'd done her hair, how her tennis was going, what work was like, whether she'd been to any good parties, how Ilka was. But we didn't really talk once.

Hamish is a bit of a spunk actually. I think she's done quite well for herself this time. He's tall, with curly hair, and a bit pale, but he dresses well and he did crack some good lines. He works for his parents, in a ski-hire business. I think he's a fair bit older than Chloe.

The tuck was good, but can you believe it, I put it in my locker, and by tonight three Mars Bars had gone and, I think, a can of drink too. This place is full of kleptos. It makes you sick. Emma said I should go and see Mrs Graham, but what's the good? I tried that last year and she didn't do a thing, just told me I should take more care of my stuff. So instead I made a speech at the start of Prep, and said I wanted it all put back, no questions asked, by lights out. I know it won't be though.


Dear Mr Journal, sorry I'm neglecting you a bit. You won't be getting much attention tonight either, I hate to tell you. It must be hard being a Journal—so closed and quiet for days on end, then coming to life for half an hour when someone opens you and puts a bit of breath into you.

It's only five minutes before the end of Prep. I've hardly got anything done tonight. The French test yesterday was such a disaster that we have to do it again tomorrow, but I don't think I'll go any better. Then I had a fight with Sophie—my first one, although I don't think she's ever liked me much. But she was being such a bitch to Marina. Marina, she annoys me too. I think people should show a bit of guts, instead of sneaking round the place like a shadow. I know she's had a hard time, and it's terrible what's happened to her, but she's not the only one, and she sure doesn't help herself.

I was watching her a bit today but you have to be careful. If she thinks you're watching she becomes self-conscious and hides, or makes like she's busy. Like in Maths, she was sitting next to Cathy, and everyone was looking at Cathy while she was answering some long problem, and Marina just kept her head down and pretended she was writing. But I could see what she was doing: drawing faces in her book. I've seen her do that quite a lot.

At mealtimes she always sits near big groups, but if they talk to her she moves away quickly. And I don't know if I'm imagining this, but I reckon she hangs around the phone a lot when people are talking to their parents. She always seems to be there, I don't know why. It just struck me tonight.

Speaking of phones . . . I wish Huw'd ring. I like him, but he is slack. I've rung him the last three times, and it's such a hassle. It's the same for people ringing here I guess. You wait ten minutes for someone to answer, then you wait ten minutes for them to find him, and half the time he's not there anyway, and that's cost you every coin you've got. Last week I think they forgot me completely—I hung on for half the night, then got cut off without any answer.


This weekend's the first Exeat Day, the only way to get out of here short of tunnelling. Issy asked me to go out with her parents but I said Chloe and Hamish were coming down again. They're not, but I hate wrecking people's exeats all the time by going out with them. It's not fair to them. Issy hasn't seen her parents for over three weeks and she's entitled to the time. Then Tracey asked me too, and I used the same excuse. I think everyone's going out except me, but I don't, repeat, do not care.

BOOK: Take My Word for It
12.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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