"You see, but..."
This came to me in a dream, Kubla Khan-like, as my secondary school English teacher appeared to me and set my homework - an essay starting with the words "You see, but..." which had to be handed in the next day despite repeated attempts to fake my own death.
Then I woke up and my pillow was gone.
You see, but, there's absolutely no way I could have spent the entire summer holidays ringing Mr Pilbeam's doorbell and running away.
For a start, I react badly to strong sunlight, so I spent July and August with my Uncle Rodney in Punto del Arenas helping with the penguin census in the southern hemispheric winter. I couldn't have touched Old Man Pilbeam's doorbell for that reason alone. Not unless I designed some sort of remote controlled doorbell-ringing robot. Which I haven't.
Second, I'm allergic to the type of rubber they use in doorbell buttons, so just the merest touch of Mr Pilbeam's knob would have brought me out in hives, with my entire hand turning yellow and inflating up to three times the size, just like a clown's glove. Only funnier than a clown, obviously.
Third, he's probably mistaken me for Ernie, the milkman's son, who can be described as the living spit of my good self, except for his notorious fascination for doorbell music (a well-known side-effect of working in the milk delivery trade), and for the fact that he only has one eyebrow.
And lastly, the first thing that happened on my return from Punto del Arenas was to fall victim to a bizarre spacehopper accident at Heathrow Airport as customs officers pursued a gang of armed dacoits, which broke both my legs and set off my latex intolerance like there's no tomorrow.
I can't help but notice, Old Man Pilbeam, from my bed in the Charlie Cairoli Ward in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, that you have seen fit to repeat these baseless allegations in a rambling letter to the Maidenhead Advertiser, which they have reproduced on pages 1-7 under the headline "Bring on capital punishment for this teenage doorbell menace - The Duck Boy MUST DIE!"
I'll be seeing you in court, and pressing for the maximum penalty allowable by law. To whit: The rarely-used firing-out-of-a-cannon-straight-up-Bernard Manning.
I got a Grade D. Teachers just have no idea.