|Two weeks later|
‘Now pay attention, young ladies,’ Mainwaring said, facing IVa. ‘Inefficient macro-economic outcomes can be caused by what?’
The girls yawned ostentatiously.
‘Doesn’t anyone know the causes?’ he asked.
Elizabeth Arnett stood up. ‘Please sir, according to John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist, private sector decisions can result in inefficient macro-economic outcomes.’
‘Very good, young lady,’ Mainwaring said, impressed. ‘Now who can tell me what can be done about it?’
Betty Wynne-Davies stood up. ‘Please sir, it needs active response from the public sector to stabilize output over the whole business cycle.’
Mainwaring was beginning to feel a bit out of his depth and couldn’t find his notes to refer to. ‘Now we’ll move on to look at the principles of supply and demand.’
Mary Shaw got up. ‘Please sir, before you do that, could you explain how monetary policy by the central banks would be part of the public sector response?’
‘Now I wondered when someone was going to ask that,’ Mainwaring said. He gave a long rambling discourse during which he mixed up monetary policy and fiscal policy.
Mary Shaw got up again. ‘But please sir, isn’t monetary policy about controlling the supply of money by using interest rates? You just said that was fiscal policy.’
‘Don’t be impertinent, young lady,’ Mainwaring said. ‘Go and report yourself to Miss Annersley instantly for impertinence.’
Elizabeth Arnett rose. ‘Please sir, it isn’t impertinent to correct something we are being told incorrectly.’
‘And you may go along with her,’ Mainwaring answered.
The two girls left the office and made their way to Miss Annersley’s office.
Hastily putting away her morning G&T, Miss Annersley answered their knock with a low “Enter” in her beautifully-modulated voice.
‘Elizabeth and Mary!’ she exclaimed. ‘It’s some time since I’ve seen you in here. It’s usually the Sixth Form being naughty these days.’
The girls bobbed the regulation curtsey. ‘We weren’t actually naughty, Miss Annersley,’ Mary said earnestly. ‘But Mr Mainwaring thought we were being cheeky because we asked him about an explanation he had given us which was incorrect.’
Miss Annersley sighed. She had been so sure things were getting back to normal, with Middles being Middles.
‘Are you sure you weren’t impertinent?’
‘Really, Miss Annersley, we weren’t,’ Elizabeth assured her. She explained the conversation and exactly what they had said to Mainwaring and Miss Annersley had to admit that they had been quite reasonable.
‘How did you know all this?’ Miss Annersley asked. ‘You haven’t studied Economics before. I hope you haven’t been looking at Mr Mainwaring’s notes.’
The girls looked down and shuffled their feet.
‘I see,’ their Headmistress said. ‘And was this a deliberate attempt to trip Mr Mainwaring up? That isn’t behaviour I would expect of Chalet School girls.’
‘We were just having a bit of fun,’ Mary said. ‘His lessons have been so boring up to now. So we nicked his notes before the lesson. It wasn’t our fault he got monetary policy and fiscal policy mixed up, he shouldn’t have needed notes for that.’
Miss Annersley rose from her seat. ‘I will come along and talk to the class,’ she said.
At her most stately, Miss Annersley glided along the corridor and entered the classroom, whereupon all the girls rose. She asked the girls to sit and suggested graciously to Mr Mainwaring that, if it was a convenient time to end today’s lesson, he might like to go to the staff room and get coffee whilst she talked to the class.
When Mainwaring had left, she faced the class. ‘Now how many of you were involved in this plan to disrupt Mr Mainwaring’s lesson?’
The whole class stood up, quaking. Miss Annersley was very strict about respect for staff and they could expect a sound scolding, to lose their Saturday night entertainment and hem sheets instead, as well as being sent to bed after le Diner each evening for the rest of the week and having to write letters of apology individually to Mr Mainwaring.
‘That was a very naughty thing to do,’ Miss Annersley said. ‘I do not want to hear of it happening again.’ She turned and left the classroom.
She could barely contain her laughter until she got back to her study. Later in the day when she and the other staff, minus Mainwaring who had returned to the farm, were relaxing over their G&Ts whilst the girls did prep, she regaled her colleagues with the story.
‘I don’t know how I kept a straight face,’ she said, smiling now at the memory. ‘He’s such a pompous little twerp and the girls had him completely tied up in knots!’
‘I hope you didn’t let them know what you thought,’ Simone Lecoutier said, grinning.
‘I could see they were expecting me to wipe the floor with them,’ Hilda said, laughing again. ‘And impose lots of dreadful sanctions. I normally would have done, but it’s so nice to see Middles being Middles again I couldn’t bring myself to do it.’
‘They have been unnaturally good,’ Nell Wilson agreed. ‘But didn’t you let them off a bit lightly?’
‘If they’ve got rid of him from pontificating in here when we’re trying to relax, they deserve an award,’ Miss Annersley said.
‘But surely you’re going to insist they apologise?’ Simone said. ‘Normally they would have to do a letter each!’
‘What! And encourage him to continue? You’ve got to be bloody joking,’ Miss Annersley said, pouring another G&T.
Unfortunately, Miss Annersley had reckoned without IVa. As soon as they had some free time, they formed a deputation to go and see Mainwaring and apologised very prettily for their behaviour. He graciously accepted their apology and said he would be back at school on Monday morning to conduct more lessons. Miss Annersley was incandescent when she heard about it.
‘The little prigs!’ she exclaimed, pacing up and down the staff room. ‘That’s it! They’re getting no Saturday night entertainment and they can go to bed after le Diner each evening.’
‘Hilda, get a grip on yourself!’ Nell Wilson said. ‘If you don’t watch out you’ll spill your G&T. You can’t punish the girls for apologising when you didn’t punish them for misbehaving. We’ll find another solution.’
‘What about reorganising the timetable?’ Simone suggested. ‘So that Mr Mainwaring is the only one to have a free period at particular times. The rest of us will be in class so we won’t have to listen to him.’
‘There’s still break time,’ Nell Wilson said gloomily. ‘At least it’s not a long time.’
‘I hope the plans to keep the other soldiers occupied are working better than this one,’ Hilda said.
Same day – at the farm
‘Mr Fraser, do you think you should be wearing those clothes to work in? Matey won’t like it.’
‘Och, away with ye,’ Fraser said irritably. ‘That’s all you ever say these days. You’re turning into a right little Matey’s Boy.’
‘Well it’s me that has to help Matey with the mending,’ Pike pointed out. ‘Now she doesn’t have schoolgirls to do it all for her. And her sewing’s terrible.’
‘I don’t see what our clothes matter,’ Fraser said. ‘After all, we’re dooooooooomed.’
Jones came in and sat down. ‘Any tea going, Pikey? It’s been a hard day at the butcher’s.’
‘I wish Michelle would get me some fake papers so I could work in the village,’ Fraser said. ‘It would be better than staying here making a new hen house.’
‘We need a new hen house, Mr Fraser,’ Pike said. ‘The last one fell to bits. And we’re getting some chickens soon. Matey says I can look after them.’
Pike made a pot of tea and passed cups to Jones and Fraser. I’ll just take a cup through to Matey. I think the airmen are out in the woods at the moment.’
He went out and Fraser looked across at Jones. ‘We need to do something about that boy. He’s getting too attached to Matey.’
‘It’ll be a problem when the time comes to go home,’ Jones agreed.
‘Home man? Don’t you realise? We’re doooooooooooooooomed.’
‘Let’s have a look at this henhouse you’ve been making then,’ Jones said, to distract his colleague. They went outside and Jones stopped in shock. The new hen house was exactly the shape of a large coffin.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Mr Mainwaring is teaching Economics to the Middles....
(Thank you to Big Nell for the plot lines in this chapter)
(Thank you to Big Nell for the plot lines in this chapter)