She looked at me sternly.
‘I'm Magistrate Sigmund,’ she announced.
I gasped: the magistrate was a woman! I hadn't expected that. Then I recalled Jenno's
theory, that because of the war, all the men's jobs were being taken over by women. Would a
woman understand my situation better than a man? Would a woman be more sympathetic? I
somehow doubted that this one would. She looked very severe indeed.
‘I am empowered by the law to make investigation of misdemeanours committed by
minors, prior to referring them, or not, as the case may be, to a children's court. Do you
‘Yes Miss,’ I replied.
‘You are to address me as Ma'am.’
‘Yes Miss― er― Ma'am.’
‘A complaint of indecent exposure has been brought against you by Mrs Jackson, the
Postmistress of Widdlington. She claims that on the morning of Saturday er―’. She glanced
down at the folder in front of her. ‘Saturday the 26th October you wilfully exposed yourself to
her daughter Phoebe, aged fourteen years, in the stables of—’ she glanced again at the
folder— ‘of the Old Vicarage. Is what she claims true?’
‘No Ma'am,’ I said firmly. ‘I did nothing wilfully.’
‘The accused denies the charge,’ muttered the Magistrate, making a note in the folder.
‘Very well. You may sit.’
‘You c'n call me Golfball,’ he said gloomily. ‘Ev'rybody else does. Spaldin's the name of a make of
‘But what's your real name?’
‘Archibald,’ he replied even more dolefully. ‘An' you might as well know, that after that comes
Spencer. Imagine 'ow that looks as initials.’ He sighed heavily.
I stifled a guffaw and tried to look sympathetic. ‘Okay Golfball, what do we have to do?’
His answer surprised me; I would not have thought this gloomy, strangely-named Golfball capable
of such a flight of dry humour. ‘What we 'ave to do is our national duty,’ he declaimed. ‘We
administer a government programme for the benefit of present and future generations.’
‘See this table at the classroom door?’ he went on, saluting it smartly. ‘We 'ave to go'n fetch,
from the duty teacher, twenny-eight bottles of milk. We place the bottles on the table. At the mid-
mornin' break, we 'ave to see that each pupil takes a bottle and we give each one a straw.
‘We 'ave to make sure that there are twenny-eight empty bottles come back, and that each one
'as a straw passing through the 'ole made for the purpose in the cap. If anyone 'ands in a bottle
what is not completely empty, or without a cap or a straw, we 'ave to take 'is or 'er name.
‘When all the bottles are returned, we can go back into class.’
He made a face and shuddered. ‘I 'ate milk and I 'ate bein' milk monitor.’
‘I hate milk too,’ I said. ‘Can't one refuse?’
‘No way,’ he replied decisively, making a vomiting noise.
Magistrate Sigmund at the Parish Hall
Golfball at school