The discovery of a small red notebook sheds light on a difficult period in Tom Gay's youth.
Ste Therese's House Characters:
Minor character(s), Tom Gay
St Briavel'sSchool Name:
04 Feb 2012 Updated:
04 Feb 2012
1. January - August by jayj
2. August - February by jayj
A small red notebook, approx. 23cms x 15cms. Discovered, February 2012, in a box in the attic of the rectory of -- in the county of --. The box also contained miscellaneous items (including exercise books for Maths and Chemistry, and a school tie), and a set of school reports from the Chalet School referring to one L. M. 'Tom' Gay.
The contents of the first part of the notebook are rather miscellaneous, dominated by fragmented notes and sketches. At about the midpoint the entries in the notebook begin to take the form of a diary. In this latter portion of the notebook there are numerous crossings out and several missing leaves. Where the crossed out text is still legible it has been reproduced in the following transcription; however, at some points the crossing out is so heavy that the text below is illegible.
One hand predominates: a curiously square hand which belongs, it would seem, to the notebook's owner, Tom Gay. At least two other hands appear in the notebook: firstly, that of the author of the inscription on the front endpapers (probably Mrs. Gay), and secondly, a small neat hand which appears intermittently throughout the notebook and belongs to one Loveday Perowne. In the following transcription these two hands are rendered in italics to distinguish them from the predominant hand.
The notebook contains several illustrations. These have not been reproduced in this transcription; they have, instead, been briefly described.
[Front endpaper: inscription in blue ink]
With love and best wishes for the new year!
Mother and Father
This Notebook belongs to
194[illegible - could be a 6 or an 8, or possibly a 9?]
[three games of noughts and crosses in blue and black ink - noughts wins each time]
[a sketch of a woman - the blackboard in the background suggests that it is possibly a teacher?]
[several drawings of houses, each with detailed measurements]
[an unfinished game of noughts and crosses]
[a careful drawing of a roof and chimey-stack. Detailed measurements have been given, but alongside this technical specificity, the drawing reveals a touch of humour: a cat is shown, crawling stealthily along the ridge of the roof, unseen by the birds that perch there]
Materials - supplies list for Miss Dene
paint - brown, green? red
- what to do about landscaping the garden? what can we do for grass / trees / etc...and can we make a little pond or something?
[two more drawings of roofs-and-chimney stacks]
[a game of noughts and crosses; a game of hangman with the winning answer 'bullnose plane']
ideas for the competition??
name the house? name the year? name the owners?
can't we just raffle it and be done with it?
[small sketches of items of furniture including a chair and table; a book-case; a kitchen table; a bed; a wardrobe]
This notebook has been seized by
Tom Gay - Keep out!
Dear lovely red notebook,
you may have noticed that you have a new owner. It is I, Loveday. I promise that I will treat you much more kindly than did your previous owner, who, in a scandalous disregard for your lovely crisp white pages, threw you at the bottom of her desk, and only called upon you to draw sketches of houses and plywood. A shameful neglect of such a lovely item! I have decided to take you into my custody until such time as Tom - that fearful creature! - should decide to treat you with the respect and honour you deserve.
[a game of hangman: winning answer 'favourite']
Geog prep - copy map p. 47 of red textbook, noting major towns, rivers, etc
[a game of hangman: winning answer 'fanciful']
For Miss A - learn sonnet 116....boring....
[a sketch of a young woman with short hair standing, frowning, concentrating intently on something (it's not clear what) on the table in front of her. In her hands appear to be a hammer and chisel (?).]
27 May 194-
This notebook has been returned to its rightful owner, Tom Gay.
I, Loveday Perowne, do solemnly swear, that I do hereby and forthwith relinquish all rights I ever claimed to this notebook, and return it without question to its rightful owner, [here 'Lucinda Muriel' is crossed out and 'Tom' is inserted above] Gay.
[drawing of a church]
What we shall do this summer, by Tom and Loveday
make [^eat] cake
swim to France
build a toy farm
Instructions for Tom
Tom, please read these carefully. And do what they say!
1. Pack. Pack sensible things, Tom, like clothes. Not like tools. Clothes. Because, Tom, when you're on holiday you can't wear tools. But you can wear clothes. And it might be an idea if you bring something a little bit smart. Because I'm not sure how my parents'll get along with you turning up to dinner in shorts...
2. a. Find out train times.
2. b. Ring me up to let me know what time you will arrive.
3. a. On the appointed day (i.e. 24 July) go to the train station and get on the correct train.
3. b. Change at Plymouth to the train for Newquay.
3. c. After approx. several hours, get off the train at Newquay.
3. d. Don't lose your suitcase during steps 3. a-c.
4. Have a lovely time staying with Loveday. For three whole weeks!
[a series of sketches; several landscape panoramas, populated by one or two figures; several drawings of the same, pretty teenage girl]
Phew, made it on to the train! That was a bit of a close one, really. Off to the aunts now. That's going to be a bit of a change of pace after these weeks with L - time to remember how to be on my best behaviour!
[pp. 67-72. The writing on these pages is struck through but still legible. It appears to be a series of false starts to a letter]
just a note to say that I had a really great
hope you're well! I'm now at my aunt's, and it's not nearly as much fun as being with you
I'm going out of my mind and I don't know who to talk to. Can I talk to you? Oh, I really don't know. I can't tell anyone about this, can I?
I miss you.
Oh, Tom, what are you doing? This is madness!
[the rest of the page is heavily crossed out and illegible]
August - February by jayj
[after a gap in which more than 20 pages are left blank, entries start again with a drawing of a house]
This year's plan - bigger and better than ever - a village:
train station (is this a bit much?? will need tracks and signals etc)
Helped out with the boys' club - joinery. Went in and some of them clearly thought a girl would know nothing - but showed them they were wrong. Nothing like a bit of carpentry to make a chap feel sane again!
Back at school - and, rather shockingly, I'm now a prefect! Only of Hobbies (I'm so very glad it's Hobbies - I'm not sure I'd've been so good at library, or staff, or any of the others, really) But, more importantly, L is headgirl! It suits her rather well, I think. She's very much got the quiet authority - she'll do a great job. Though right now she seems rather shocked...she gets her own little study, and spent part of this evening planning how she was going to decorate it.
Sad news though - Elfie's not coming back. So now we've got a games committee rather than a games prefect - seems like it might be a bit unwieldy, but I'm sure they'll make a good job of it. At any rate, I'm just glad that it's nothing to do with me!
Tea in Loveday's study, with Bride too. B missing Elfie lots - she's wandering round rather bereft. She and E were very close. [three lines heavily crossed out, now illegible].
Some bits of prefecting are surprizing amounts of fun - have some decent ideas about how we might make Hobbies club better - will try to speak to Miss A to see if she'll agree.
Bit of an adventure with some mud - Bride and Julie got the worst of it! Thankfully none of the kids around to see them limp back to school utterly filthy.
Meant to have tea with L and Bride - but B called away to Miss A's office. Some mystery or other...It was nice to have L to myself for a change!
Back after half term - and who do we find lurking in the prees' room but young Elfie! Not all good news though - apparently Mrs Bettany's not well - she had a serious op over half term. Poor B - she's not had a good time of it this past few months.
L in a quiet flap about the prees' turn at entertaining the staff. But between a fancy dress competition and an obstacle race (with a twist - I've got some good ideas...) we managed to settle it. Should be good fun!
Late to bed last night - the staff evening something of a triumph. Still not convinced that doing follow my leader etc after supper rather than before was wise - some of Julie and Rosalind's cakes were rather on the heavy side. Still, no one was sick (or at least, not to my knowledge). Bride on good form - Mrs B getting better, and Bride much more cheerful as a result.
Invited to L's study for tea tomorrow - to finish off (some of the nicer) left-over cakes from last night, I hope!
I mean, what is this all even about? Is this what those silly school stories call a G.P.? I don't know. It's just - I like her. I admire her. Being around her is [illeg].
I don't think it's like those books. I don't think it is.
[the text on this page is crossed out but still legible]
I want this to stop now, but I feel like I can't help myself. She's everywhere, and I can't stop myself from wanting to be with her. I can't go on like this.
I want her so badly.
L's invited me round for tea tomorrow.
[the rest of the page is heavily crossed out.]
[pp. 121-126 are torn from the book]
This is horrendous. She won't talk to me. She won't even look at me.
L still avoiding me. Like I'm the plague.
Spent much of the day working on the house for next years' sale. Also various hobbies-related jobs. It's turning into a tolerable excuse for not being in the prees' room.
Things still not good. L distinctly icy in the prees' meeting. Again. Play rehearsals also awkward - thankfully we've no scenes together, but when we're at rehearsals at the same time, she looks at me as if I've sent out the order to murder her first-born child. Which is rather apt, since I'm meant to be Herod and she's the Virgin Mother.
People are going to start noticing soon. I've made such a mess of things.
Bride cornered me when I was working on the house. Wanted to know what was going on with me and L. Didn't say much. Not sure that B was satisfied with what I did say. But she left me alone again.
Christmas card from L. Not sure how to take it. I don't think it's an olive branch - she wouldn't look at me when she gave it me. I think she's only given it me because she couldn't leave me out without it looking odd.
This continues to be hellish. At least term's almost over.
Spoke to father this afternoon. Have said I'm not going to Switzerland - said there was no need, really. Pointed out that I wouldn't really benefit from any kind of finishing school-style business. And that we're too poor. We ARE too poor - that's not even an excuse, that's true.
I think I convinced him.
I just can't be where she is. It'll kill me.
Just two terms to get through and then I won't have to see her.
Spent the day in the kitchen with mother - would rather be in the workshop, but as she said, I didn't do a bad job at all on the mince pies...have eaten several myself and have to say, I'm quite impressed.
[What appears to be a partial draft of a letter; the whole page is struck through]
I don't even know if you'll read this. Firstly, I'm not sure that I'll be brave enough ever to send it. And secondly, since you said, in no uncertain terms, that you want nothing more to do with me, I don't think you'd even open it.
I want to say I'm sorry for what I ['said' is crossed out and replaced with 'did']...
but I'm not. I'm not sorry for doing that. I'm sorry that you hate me now and I'm sorry that I've upset you. But I can't say sorry for saying it, because meant it. It's how I feel.
Oh, L, how on earth are we going to get through this?
Church looked beautiful today - all the work we put in yesterday paid off. Helped mother with the Christmas dinner, and we made sure that dad was sufficiently well fed to put in a stellar performance at the service.
I don't know if I can even believe this. I suppose I should feel relieved, but I don't. I just feel - sick, I suppose.
She's not coming back to school.
Heard the story from Annis. She grabbed me in the corridor demanding to know what I knew of L. Froze me to the spot. I thought she'd somehow guessed about what happened last term. But no. Apparently the Perownes have come into money and all gone off to South America or some such. And L's not coming back here. She's coming back next year, so B says - but not to here, to the Oberland branch.
That settles it, of course. I'm certainly not going to Switzerland.
This might be for the best. Annis made some crack about how chummy L and I were. Stamped on that rather. But if A saw how close we were, then other people would have noticed it too. And since L wouldn't even be in the same room as me at the end of last term, people would soon talk.
Better to be spared that, I suppose.
I am glad for L about this inheritance, though. At least she'll be able to afford college now, and all that.
But I - I can't believe I'm not going to see her again.
I just wish
[The rest of the notebook is blank. Tucked in at the end, however, is a loose sheet of writing paper. It is the beginning of a letter, written in the distinctive neat hand that appears elsewhere in the notebook, i.e. that of Loveday Perowne]
I've tried and I've tried again to write this letter, but it's been so hard. If this one survives the flames, you shall have it. Somehow the distance between us - it's a very long way to Argentina! - makes it easier to write.
Oh, Tom, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for how I reacted. But you scared me - the whole thing scared me - and confused me - and I didn't know what to say, or do, or how I felt.
But I've had a lot of time to think, Tom. And now I know how I feel. Oh, Tom, I miss you so much
[The rest is missing]
This was inspired by the bit in Bride where Tom acts very oddly when Annis questions her about what's happened to Loveday. When Annis says 'you and Loveday seemed fairly chummy this last two terms or so' Tom deliberately ignores the comment, 'pass[ing] over the hint that she and Loveday had been on extra close terms of friendship'. Then she says that they've had no contact over Christmas: 'As a matter of fact, beyond cards at Christmas, neither of us has written. At least, I certainly didn't, and I don't suppose she did either.' Later, Tom's utterly adamant that under no circumstances will she go to the Swiss branch of the school.
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