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Taverton, December 1st 1924

Dear Father Christmas,

Maybe you'll think I'm too old to be writing to you, but I hope you won't mind. You always seem like such a kind man; and no-one round here seems to give two hoots about what I want. They'll probably get me some silly old book about classical music.

Sorry, do I sound really rude? I don't mean to. I just get so fed up and miserable sometimes. I know that Father and Steppy don't want me here, and it's horrid being where you're not wanted. That's actually what I wanted to ask you about. I don't want any actual things this year. Well, a new tennis racket would come in handy, and my cricket bat's seen better days as well … but that's not what I'm writing to you about. What I really want is a way to get away from here, from this house.

It was all so different when I lived with Grannie. And I took it all for granted, what a dear she was to me and how she always made me feel loved and wanted. But I know I couldn't go back to living with her now, even if Father and Steppy would let me, because she gets tired easily and having me around the place all the time would probably be too much for her. I'm not a very peaceful person, I'm afraid. Steppy's always telling me off for making too much noise.

She's always telling me off about a lot of things. And Father hardly takes any notice of me at all. Neither of them wants me here. I know they don't. Steppy wanted to send me away as soon as she found out that I even existed. She thinks I don't know that, but I do. I heard her and Father talking about it once. I wasn't eavesdropping, not deliberately, but it's hard not to overhear when people are shouting at the tops of their voices. I think Cookie heard as well. She's always kind to me. She probably does care what I want, I suppose; but there's not much she can do about it.

Father said that people would talk if I were sent away. And Steppy can't stand the idea of people "talking" about her. That's why she pretends to be nice to me whenever there's anyone else around to see it. It's so stupid, though, because I want to go away from here and I know they'd love to see the back of me. So we want the same thing, really. It's the one thing that might make all of us happier.

If I were a boy, I'd have been sent away to school by now. My cousin Max is the same age as me, and he's away at school. It sounds like fun. He told me all about the pranks they play on the masters, things like vaselining the blackboards so that the chalk won't write. There are boarding schools for girls, but none of the girls from round here go to them: we all go to Taverton High. Not that there's anything wrong with Taverton High. We have good fun there, and I'm in the cricket team, and I quite like maths and science lessons. But then I have to go home at the end of every day. And there are weekends and holidays. And it's horrid being where you're not wanted.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm such a horrible girl that no-one would want me. But Grannie loves me. And I've got friends at school. And I think Cookie cares about me, as well. And maybe I'd be a much nicer person if I wasn't living here. It's very hard living somewhere where you're not wanted.

I know I'm not the only girl I know who hasn't got a mother. Look at Jo Bettany, for example. She hasn't got a mother or a father, and she hasn't got a grannie either. But she's got Miss Bettany. I wish I had an older sister like that. I wish I had any brother or sister at all, really, but it must be particularly nice to have a sister like Miss Bettany. She's always so jolly and cheerful, and everyone likes her. Jo's a dear, as well. Well, she can be frightfully annoying sometimes, but she'd probably say the same about me, and we're good pals most of the time. And I bet Miss Bettany never makes her feel like she isn't wanted.

But Father and Steppy make me feel like that all the time. So can you see, dear Father Christmas, how it would be better for all of us if you could find a way for me to get away from here? Preferably to somewhere exciting, but anywhere would do. Well, anywhere nice, I mean. I don't mean to sound too ungrateful. I know I've got a roof over my head, and food and clothes and everything, and there are plenty of people who haven't got anything like that much. But none of us are really happy in this house. Especially not me. So all I really want for Christmas is some way of being able to go and live somewhere else.

I know this isn't the sort of thing that people usually ask for. Well, I assume it isn't, anyway. You never really know what goes on in other people's heads and other people's homes, do you? Not when people like Steppy worry so much about putting up a good show in public. But it's what I really want. And I bet it's what Steppy would ask you for as well, if she were writing you a letter. Maybe even Father would as well.

This letter's got an awful lot longer than I meant it to be, so I'll finish it now. I wish you and all your elves a very Merry Christmas. And if you could see your way to helping me about this, I'd be grateful to you for ever. Honour bright, I would. It's what I want more than anything.

All good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

Grizel Cochrane



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