No toe stepping or copyright infringements intended, just the wish to let everyone see/read how good Red Dwarf and its associated Books are.

 

BackWards by Rob Grant Front Cover imageEvery Good Boy Deserves Favour.

Arnold J. Rimmer, age seven and almost a quarter, is attempting to concentrate on his music notation lesson. For reasons that elude his young mind, it is vitally, vitally important for him to master the piano. More important than anything. More important, even, than concealing from his brothers the secret location of his Dead Spiders and Other Wriggly Things collection. Life-or-death important. He must commit to memory the names of the notes on the musical staves, E, G, B, D, F, using the time-honoured mnemonic :

 

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

He's concentrating as hard as he can. His little face is bunched up like a constipated pig at a truffle festival. But he's got a problem, young Arnold has.

And this is the problem: he knows he's going to fail.

He has no ear for music. He has no talent for the piano.

But then again, he has no talent for anything. The only thing he's good at is letting his parents down. That's easy for Arnold J. Rimmer age seven and almost a quarter. It's a breeze.

 

Every Good Boy Disappoints Father.

Outside, in the warm, unreal glow of Jupiter magnified through Ios Plexiglas dome, Arnold's brothers whoop and holler up and down the garden. They're probably not having as much fun as they sound like they're having.

They're exaggerating their bellows of. enjoyment to taunt him. They know he'd like to be out there with them, even though he'd be teased and tortured. Even though he'd be the butt of. their cruel boyish jokes. He'd rather be staked out on the grass and smeared with marmalade to attract poisonous insects than be stuck in the hot, stuffy study, gripping his elementary music notation book with sweaty little hands. So they yell and laugh in a taunting parody of.

childhood pleasure in the impossibly perfect summer afternoon to tweak his discomfort to the maximum level. And in young Arnold's opinion, it's not even unfair.

They have earned their fun. He has not.

 

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

 

His brothers, you see, excel at things. They are all, in their own ways, excellent boys. Arnold finds it a hideous struggle just to be a notch below average. But his mother won't give up on him. She still believes he can excel. She's convinced he has this hidden talent for music. It's got to be music, because there's nothing else left for his talent to be hiding behind. But it's so, so deeply hidden, this musical ability, that even Arnold can't find it. His musical talent is in deep cover. And the frustrating thing is: if he can only master the piano, everything will be all right. Would that be too much to ask? If he could just turn out to have the fledgling talent of a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, then he could relax a little. Then his parents could have something to be proud about.

And he really needs something good to hang on to right now. Because, although the precise details are not clear to his seven and almost a quarter years old brain, he is keenly aware that something very bad indeed could very possibly be about to happen.

His school report has been a disaster. In a class of- thirty-seven pupils, Arnold has been ranked thirty-sixth.

36/37.

It is the worst ever. Hitherto, he's always managed to hover just above shame and ignominy in the very late twenties. But this term they've started remedial teaching for the slow' pupils, and young Arnold has been overtaken by the spazzes, durnoids and thickies. Even Thrasher Beswick, who spends fully seven hours of every school day attempting to learn how to masturbate through a hole in his pocket, has exceeded him in scholastic achievement.

Arnold J. Rimmer is now the second worst pupil in his class. He outranks only Dennis Filbert, who smells of bread and margarine, sports a plaster over one lens of his spectacles and has a behavioural problem which results in his turning blue and losing consciousness if anyone tries to speak to him.

Next term, Dennis Filbert will be in a 'Special' school.

And Arnold will be bottom of the class. 36/36.

Of course, he has tried to conceal the extent of his failure from his parents, by altering the figures, to make it appear he's come thirty-sixth out of eighty-seven. He might have succeeded, too, if he hadn't used yellow crayon.

His father has punished him excessively cruelly. All the horrors Arnold had imagined on that long walk home from school on the last day of term, beyond tears, clutching the damning document with its crude counterfeiting, had not prepared him for his actual punishment.

This was the punishment: nothing.

His father has done nothing. Nothing at all. He has read the report over the supper table, and said absolutely doodley-zip. And he has said zippedy-squat since.

Young Arnold has committed an offence beyond punishment. Literally unspeakable.

Arnold screws his eyes so tightly together they hurt, and red patterns swirl in the darkness. He wishes there were somewhere he could put the shame. Some way he could put it down for a while, like a huge, over-stuffed suitcase, to stop it hurting.

When he opens his eyes, his mother is standing over him.

She is holding a letter. Arnold can see the school crest on the letterhead. Although no one has spoken directly to him about it, he knows what it is. It's about being 'Kept Down'. He has overheard his mother on the phone, arguing with his teachers about it. He has surprised his brothers whispering in huddles about it.

Being 'Kept Down' is something that happens only to the crème de la crème of thickies. To the thickest of the thick.

The spazziest of the spazzes. It means you stay in Junior C while the rest of the class moves up to Junior B.

And for the rest of your school life, in perpetuity, for ever, you will be one year older than your classmates, who are all aware that you have been Kept Down because you are not just any old durnoid, but you are the Durniest of all Durnoids who ever dared to durn.

His mother has pleaded with his teachers to spare him this shame. This letter in his mother's cold hands contains their final decision. And with a prescience surprising in a boy his age, Arnold is aware that its contents will affect his life for ever.

 

Every Good Boy Deserves Failure . . .