The day before they're planning to take off, there's a mix-up with the cars. The idea that the trip might get cancelled has Ruth really upset. But, happily, things get sorted out, and Chrissie, Rodney, Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy are on their way to the seaside town along the coast of Norfolk.
With any longish car ride, there's always a little bit of bickering. And you know that the two having a tiff about the seating arrangement in the car is going to be Ruth and Kathy. But it blows over quickly and they get on their merry way again.
When they reach the seafront town by Norfolk, the whole gang is excited just to be out in the world. Freedom and all that jazz. But since there's really nothing keeping them from taking day trips like this more often, we're wondering why they don't venture out for some R&R more frequently. We've heard Bath is lovely this time of year.
While eating lunch at a café, they start chatting about old friends who have become carers (apparently the don't-talk-about-carers rule changes once you leave the Cottages). They also daydream about how wonderful it would be to work in a shop.
According to Chrissie and Rodney, the possibility of working in a shop could only happen for Hailsham students, because they're extra special. They heard of a Hailsham girl who got to work in a clothes shop in Wales, and a Hailsham guy who got to be a park keeper.
But there's one particular Hailsham perk that Chrissie and Rodney are super interested in. They want to get a deferral so they can spend more time together before they become carers and then start their donations.
There have been rumors going around the veterans at the Cottages about these so-called deferrals. Chrissie and Rodney heard that Hailsham students could sometimes get deferrals if they could prove that they were really in love. Of course, Chrissie and Rodney didn't go to Hailsham, but they figure Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy would know all about these deferrals and how to apply.
Throughout this chat about deferrals, Ruth has started nodding, like she knows just what Chrissie and Rodney are talking about. Ruth makes a comment about how they were told a bit about deferrals but didn't talk much about them at Hailsham, which is total cockamamie. But Kathy backs up her friend, just to be nice.
Tommy, on the other hand, tells Chrissie and Rodney the truth: prior to the rumors at the Cottages, he's never heard anything about all this deferrals stuff before in his life.
Ruth tries to explain Tommy's ignorance by saying that he wasn't "a real Hailsham student" because he was always teased and left out (13.58). Ouch, Ruth, that one stings. After this jab, Kathy looks at Tommy's face, and she sees the old Tantrum Tommy creeping back for a moment.