Authors: Margaret Ryan
For Isabel and Granny Elspeth with love
The problem: My old bike. I am growing too big for it, but we can't afford a new one as Dad is off work with a broken leg.
The brainwave: Ask Mr Maini at the corner shop if he has a paper round so I can save up for some new wheels.
The dilemma: There
a paper round, but it takes in Weir Street and I've heard that the people who live there are
The hero: Me, of course. Jonny Smith. I'm not scared â it's only a paper round. And just how weird can the people in Weir Street beâ¦?
I was having breakfast and just about to set off on my paper round, when Mum came into the kitchen carrying a pile of dirty washing.
“Your bedroom is such a mess, Jonny Smith,” she said. “I could hardly walk across the floor. You must tidy it up when you come home from school.”
“OK,” I sighed. It would take a while. I'm just not a very tidy person.
Unlike Miss Violet King, who lives at number 57 Weird Street. Her house always looks spick and span, and her garden is perfect. All the flowers stand to attention, the bushes grow neatly, and the trees never seem to drop their leaves. Her front gate is polished and the path freshly swept. I try not to get any mud on it as I walk along, and when I reach the front door, I open the shiny letter box wearing gloves. For two reasons:
1. So I don't leave any fingerprints.
2. So it doesn't nip my fingers when it springs back.
I don't often see Miss King, which is just as well. She kept me late for school last week. She had written out a list of magazines she wanted to order from Mr Maini, then couldn't find it.
“That's strange,” she frowned. “I'm sure I put it on the hall table. I'll just go and look for it.”
She was away for ages while I hopped about from foot to foot looking at my watch. My teacher, Miss Dodds, goes bananas when I'm late. Which is quite often.
When Miss King finally
find the list, there was only half of it left. The rest of it was in her dog, so she had to write it out all over again. In very neat writing.
Then she'd looked at me and said, “Why don't you pull up your socks and tuck in your shirt? A tidy outside means a tidy inside, you know.” And she'd tapped her head.
I thought she was crazy. But, crazy or not, I still had to deliver her paper.
I finished my breakfast, said goodbye to Mum and jumped onto my bike. I collected my big orange bag from Mr Maini at the corner shop and set off on my round.
It was a bright morning and, even on my old bike, I enjoyed whizzing down Barr Avenue. But it wasn't such fun pedalling up the big hill to Weird Street.
Captain Cross-eyed at number 13 gave me a wave as he went off to work in the park. “How's the bike fund coming along?” he called.
“Nearly there,” I gasped. I couldn't wait to get my new bike. The one I wanted had lots of gears and would make going up Weird Street much easier.
Mr Tipp was in the garden of number 34 and a half when I arrived. I handed him his paper and stopped for a chat.
“What are you inventing now, Mr Tipp?” I asked.
“Something I think could be great fun, Jonny,” he grinned. “Bouncing wellies.”
“Like these ones I'm wearing,” he said. “Watch.”
He flicked a remote control and began bouncing around the garden. Then he gave an extra large bounce, leapt over the garden gate and headed down the hill.
“They're not quite right yet,” he called. “Now, where's the OFF button?”
I smiled as he disappeared. Mr Tipp always cheered me up.
When I reached Miss King's house, I parked my bike very carefully, so it didn't lean on the hedge, and pushed open the silent gate. The bad-tempered letter box gleamed on the front door, as did the Viking-ship brass knocker.
I put on my gloves and searched in my bag for Miss King's paper. I soon found it, but there was also a whole bundle of magazines with number 57 written on the top right-hand corner. I'd have to put them through the letter box one by one!
It took ages as my gloved fingers kept slipping on the shiny covers. But the magazines all went through, until the last one. It was called
and was really thick. I had to give it a huge push.
Big mistake. The front cover ripped in two.
“Oh no,” I groaned. Now I would have to knock on the door and apologise. Otherwise Miss King might complain to Mr Maini. I didn't want to lose my job. Not now I was so close to being able to afford a new bike.
I lifted the heavy knocker and gave a tap. Nothing happened. I banged a little harder. Still no one answered.