Matt Gaffney, 14 year-old president of the junior chess club at Cardinal Newman School in Reading, insisted he was ‘totally in on’ a practical joke that had seen him turn up to his school’s Valentine’s Evening Dance expecting to spend the night with Mandy Gordon, widely regarded as the prettiest girl in all Year Ten.
‘I was so onto it, you guys,’ Gaffney insisted to assembled classmates, maintaining that his arrival with a single red rose artfully tied to a Kasparov 2000 pocket chess computer, and an oversized card with cuddling cartoon puppies ‘was just turning the tables on you jokers’.
Gaffney said he’d spotted the practical joke as soon as Ant Donaldson, the under-16s rugby captain, had told him that Mandy was ‘well into him’ but shy ‘because with these glasses and side parting I looked so cool and intellectual’ and had therefore asked Donaldson to ask him to accompany her to the disco. ‘We were best friends in junior school, me and Ant, and are always playing these crazy tricks on each other so I completely saw through it’ Gaffney explained, ‘I mean it’s not as if I’d seen her smile at me one day and thought just maybe she would like a sensitive guy who’d listen to her, and read her poetry, and not constantly try and get his hand down her top. I mean, come on!’
The evening’s disco continued vibrantly with word spreading quickly of the highly-rated chess player’s participation in the prank. ‘Even Mr Jenkins the PE teacher came over to ask me about it. He said he’d have to start calling me ‘Mr Loverman’ from now on. I can’t wait to get into the gym again now, it’s going to be such a laugh!’
Despite Gaffney’s obvious glee at the clever reversal of fortunes, some of his classmates seemed slow to pick up that they’d been made to look so foolish, despite his explanations. ‘When I went right up to Mandy and said how I’d dreamed of this moment since Year Seven, and that she was even more beautiful than Angelina Jolie, and that my mum said she should come to tea on Sunday, you should have seen your faces—and Mandy thought it was just hilarious too!’ laughed Gaffney, shortly before popping to the boys toilets for the rest of the evening because of the ‘early on-set hayfever’ which often strikes at this time of year.