It was a fine summer afternoon in the sleepy seaside town of Hastings. Along the parade a figure came into view. Just a schoolboy, but quite a striking one, probably a sixth-former. His bulky figure stood tall, his head set at a noble angle, chin high. His steps were steady, positive. He strode – no, he marched. A faint oompahing sound could be heard as his arms swung steadily as he progressed.

Barry Truckerson was remembering the year before when he’d met that chap Watson-something and the one he’d skimmed stones with – Barnes-Norris – funny how boffins all had double names. A lot of chums at school had, but when he’d asked Pop about it he’d just cuffed him gently and told him to get on with his prep.

He’d come down with his parents for a long weekend. They were staying at The Grand, which Truckerson had already decided wasn’t very. But they’d been lucky to get bookings. It was the annual Boffin’s conference again, as he liked to describe it to the annoyance of his father.

This morning, his mother had decided she wanted a new hat and Pop had taken her into the town. Truckerson could see the need for ladies to have new hats, but couldn’t abide the process of acquiring them and tended to get rather fidgety sitting on a hard chair in some stuffy, smelly shop. This was unpopular with his father, so much so that he was prepared to sacrifice some of his hard-earned cash to keep the boy occupied. Ice-cream seemed to be a universal answer. After being instructed not to get into trouble, where not to go, and exactly when to return to the hotel for afternoon tea, Truckerson was released into the community.

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