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Authors: Morris Gleitzman

Puppy Fat

BOOK: Puppy Fat
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Morris Gleitzman grew up in England and came to Australia when he was sixteen. He was a frozen chicken thawer, sugar mill rolling stock unhooker, fashion industry trainee, student, department store Santa, TV producer, newspaper columnist and freelance screenwriter. Then in 1985 he wrote a novel for young people. Now he's one of Australia's favourite children's authors.

Visit Morris at his website:
www.morrisgleitzman.com

Other Books by Morris Gleitzman

 

The Other Facts of Life

Second Childhood

Two Weeks with the Queen

Misery Guts

Worry Warts

Puppy Fat

Blabber Mouth

Sticky Beak

Belly Flop

Water Wings

Burnface

Gift of the Gab

Wicked!
(with Paul Jennings)

Toad Rage

Deadly
(with Paul Jennings)

Adults Only

Toad Heaven

Boy Overboard

Teacher's Pet

Toad Away

Girl Underground

Worm Story

Once

Aristotle's Nostril

Doubting Thomas

Give Peas a Chance

Then

Toad Surprise

Grace

MORRIS
GLEITZMAN

 

 

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

First Piper edition published 1994 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
First Pan edition published 1996 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
This edition published 2001 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited
1 Market Street, Sydney

Piper edition reprinted 1994, 1995
Pan Edition reprinted 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2009

Copyright © Gleitzman McCaul Pty Ltd 1994

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Gleitzman, Morris, 1953–
Puppy fat.

ISBN 9780330274623

1. Title.

A823.3

Typeset by Midland Typesetters
Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group

 

These electronic editions published in 2010 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
1 Market Street, Sydney 2000

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. This publication (or any part of it) may not be reproduced or transmitted, copied, stored, distributed or otherwise made available by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical) or by any means (photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise) without prior written permission from the publisher.

 

Puppy Fat

Morris Gleitzman

 

Adobe eReader format  

978-1-74262-012-1

EPub format  

978-1-74262-013-8

Mobipocket format  

978-1-74262-014-5

Online format  

978-1-74262-015-2

 

Macmillan Digital Australia
www.macmillandigital.com.au

Visit
www.panmacmillan.com.au
to read more about all our books and to buy both print and ebooks online. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events.

For Sophie and Ben

1

Keith stood at the front of the queue and sent an urgent message to the chicken nuggets and peas in his stomach. Relax, he told them. This isn't a big drama. I'm just putting a couple of ads in the local paper. No need to get worked up.

‘Next,' said the woman behind the counter.

Keith took a deep breath, stepped forward and handed her the two forms.

She peered at them for ages.

Keith swallowed.

His mouth felt dry.

Suddenly the newspaper office had got very hot.

Perhaps someone wants to advertise a central heating system, thought Keith, and they've brought it in with them.

‘I can't read this writing,' said the woman. ‘What section?'

‘Sorry?' said Keith.

‘What section do you want to advertise in? Toys? Sporting Equipment? Computers And Video Games?' The woman took her glasses off and polished them wearily on her cardigan. ‘What are you advertising?'

‘My parents,' said Keith.

The woman stopped polishing.

She peered at Keith for even longer than she had at the forms.

This is it, thought Keith. This is where she either chucks me out or she doesn't.

‘Your parents,' said the woman.

‘It's OK,' said Keith, ‘they're separated.'

The woman put her glasses back on and squinted at the pieces of paper.

Keith leaned forward and took them back.

‘Sorry about the writing,' he said. ‘You'll recognise the words when I read them. Mrs Lambert at school always does.'

He took another deep breath and had a quick word with his blood. Listen, he told it, half of South London's in the queue behind us so I'd really appreciate you not rushing to my face and making it go red. Thanks.

‘This first one's advertising my dad,' said Keith to the woman. He started reading, pointing to each word. ‘Chef, 37½, non-smoker, only swears on motorways, very little dandruff, good in goal, wants to meet kind woman (no criminal record) to go out together and be friends.'

Keith paused in case any women in the queue wanted to fix up a date now and save him the 27p a word, extra for thick type.

No one did.

Never mind, thought Keith. People probably haven't got time for romance when they're trying to work out how much to ask for their lawn mower.

‘This other one's advertising my mum,' he said to the counter woman, who was staring at him suspiciously.

He held the other form up so she could see the words.

‘Council employee,' he read, ‘only been 36 for a couple of weeks, very good at Monopoly, expert cuddler, never gets carsick, own TV, wants to meet kind man—'

‘Excuse me,' interrupted the woman.

For a sec Keith thought she'd spotted a bloke in the queue who wanted to invite Mum to the pictures, but she hadn't.

‘Did your parents write these adverts themselves?' asked the woman sternly.

‘No,' said Keith quietly.

The woman's face grew even sterner.

‘They would have done,' Keith added hurriedly, ‘but they've been a bit depressed lately. We went to live in Australia to try and save their marriage but it didn't work out and they've been in the dumps a bit since we got back.'

‘I'm afraid we only accept Personals from the individuals concerned,' said the woman.

Keith sighed.

This was what he'd feared.

‘Please,' he said. ‘Just this once.'

‘Sorry,' said the woman.

‘Go on,' pleaded Keith. ‘You'll be bringing happiness to two seriously depressed people.'

‘Sorry,' said the woman.

‘My best friend's coming from Australia for a holiday,' said Keith. ‘She's only here for eleven days.'

‘What's that got to do with it?' asked the woman.

‘Tracy can perk anyone up,' explained Keith, ‘even people who are seriously depressed. Starting next Thursday she'll be here perking Mum and Dad up which'll be the perfect time for them to be getting romantic letters and meeting new people and falling in love and cheering up and being happy for the rest of their lives.'

‘Sorry,' said the woman.

‘Tracy's mum's coming too,' said Keith desperately. ‘She's been married for eighteen years. She'll be able to help them sort through the letters and pick the good partners.'

‘Sorry,' said the woman. ‘Next.'

I bet you're not sorry, thought Keith bitterly as he turned away. I bet you're only doing the job for the cheap lawn mowers.

As he walked dejectedly out of the newspaper office he looked closely at the people in the queue to see if anyone was having second thoughts about asking Mum or Dad out.

No one was.

The glamorous countess gave the dashing cavalry officer a smouldering look. She walked slowly across the moonlit balcony, slipped her hand inside his tunic and pulled out a jar of instant coffee.

‘Ridiculous,' said Mum, scowling at the TV. ‘That woman hasn't got a bottom. And look at those ridiculous shoulders. She's got enough padding in there to stuff a car seat.'

Keith sighed and had another chocolate finger.

It was getting worse.

Only three months since Mum and Dad had split up and here was Mum spending every evening flopped in front of the telly in an old housecoat and bed socks, criticising the adverts and neglecting her waistline.

‘Pass the fingers, love,' said Mum.

Keith sighed again.

Up until three months ago she'd been dead strict about chocolate fingers.

Two a day and ten on birthdays, that had been the rule.

Now it was a box a night.

And she didn't care how many he had, either.

Perhaps if I pretend I didn't hear, thought Keith, she'll forget she asked.

‘Keith,' said Mum, ‘use one of those chocolate fingers to clean the wax out of your ears and pass the rest to me please, love.'

Tragic, thought Keith sadly as he handed her the box. A clever woman who used to be really good at homework and Monopoly reduced to a lonely chocolate-guzzling vegetable.

But she could snap out of it, he knew she could.

All she needed was some help.

At Dad's place things weren't much better.

Dad was staring at a naked woman.

Keith stared too.

She looked exactly like Mrs Lambert.

It couldn't be.

A geography teacher wouldn't lie on a red velvet settee wearing only a tiara and a pair of green slippers and let someone do a painting of her. Not if the painting was going to be shown on telly. The image on the TV changed to a reporter's head.

‘. . . eighteenth century Italian masterpiece,' the reporter was saying, ‘sold for a record twenty-seven million pounds.'

‘If I had twenty-seven million quid,' said Dad bitterly to the screen, ‘I wouldn't blow it on an old painting, I'd get the cooker in the cafe overhauled.'

As Keith's eyes got used to the darkness in Dad's living room he saw that Dad was lying on the settee wearing only a knitted beanie and his striped pyjamas.

‘Hello Keith,' he said without looking up. ‘Didn't see you come in.'

‘OK if I stay tonight?' said Keith.

‘Course,' said Dad. ‘Any time you like, you know that.'

BOOK: Puppy Fat
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