Miss Ufford The ramp Into the allotments After we had sat and stowed our gasmasks on the knee-high shelf of the desk, our class teacher, Miss Ufford called the roll. She then reached into her high desk to produce a large wooden rattle. ‘Right children,’ she said. ‘We're going to start the day with a gasmask drill. Has everyone got their mask?’ Everybody had, except ‘Braces’ Bryce, who put up his hand. Now I knew why Jenno was so angry at her brother this morning. Miss Ufford scowled at him. ‘Stanley,’ she said severely. ‘Where is your gasmask?’ ‘At home, Miss.’ ‘It is very, very important for you to have your gasmask with you at all times,’ said Miss Ufford, wagging her head up and down with each word. ‘It could be a matter of life or death. Do you understand?’ Braces nodded miserably. ‘Yes, Miss,’ he said. ‘Even when I go out to play?’ ‘If you are playing near your house, then you needn't carry it with you. But should the air-raid siren sound, you are to go and fetch it immediately. Is that clear?’ Braces nodded again, but didn't look entirely convinced. I dropped a knee into my cart and punted hard directly at the smallest member of the Streeter's gang. He jumped aside. Those on either side grabbed at me, but I was going too fast for them. They gave furious chase. They howled at my heels, but it's not for nothing that my cart is called Lightning. Even so, it was uphill. I could barely keep two yards ahead. In desperation I veered sharp right to the opening into the allotments. I hurtled like a runaway tramcar down the gravelly ramp. My pursuers checked at the top. They were scared of Mr Pearce.