Monday, February 23, 2015

More from Lynne's Secret Diary

Another diary extract from when I was 9 and a bit.

Several things occur to me when reading this. First is my love of food. I’ve always loved my grub, apart from meat. We were expected to illustrate each diary entry and I always opted for something easy. Food is quite easy to draw.

Second thought. My teacher corrected the spellings of two names. You will probably agree that the teacher’s name in that opening sentence would be quite a challenge to get right for any nine year old. As for Mr Benny, I actually think Mr Benni looks better.

Third thought. What freedom we kids had back then. I was always out and about with, or without, friends. We played in the street, went to the park, walked into town and visited the library without adult supervision. And we went home when it was dark or when our stomachs began to rumble.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A lazy way out

I     I am feeling lazy. It’s Day 53 of my Boomerang Cough (it keeps coming back – hence the name) and I need to post something on my blog. An easy option from Brian Feinblum’s list of things to blog about is - Excerpt something from your own book.
S    So here’s a bit from Racing Start which I’ve always considered to be about racing cycling until a friend pointed out that it dealt with many problems, including bullying. First published by Blackie in 1991 and aimed at 8-13 yr olds, it is now on Kindle.

Chapter 1

The Fletcher Gang

Joe wished he was on his bike. He would rather be slogging up the steepest hill in the freezing cold and pouring rain than be where he was – in the middle of a football pitch.

          Joe was useless at football. Everyone expected him to be brilliant because his dad had been a professional. But the famous Dave Astley had never been the smallest and slowest player on the field. Joe’s feet would never do what he wanted them to. And he was hopeless at tackling.

          Big Ethan Fletcher was always on the opposing team. He never missed an opportunity to tackle Joe, to kick him on the shins or push him to the ground.

          Today Joe had been shoved face down on the muddiest section of the pitch. Big Ethan and his mates again. As Joe skidded in the slime, Gary Taylor landed on top of him, his bent knee sinking into Joe’s stomach, making him gasp for breath. John Bowen was next. His arm came to rest on Joe’s windpipe. Ethan followed. Joe tried to lift his head from the ground to suck in some air but a hand twisted in his hair, forcing his face back to the squelching turf. He couldn’t move, however hard he struggled. Cold, wet, gritty mud filled his mouth and, for a moment, Joe wondered whether his death would be classed as drowning or suffocation. Then suddenly the weight was lifted from him. Mr Berrington had finally come to the rescue.

          Spitting mud, Joe rolled on to his back and looked up at the games teacher. Beneath the thick paintbrush of a moustache Mr Berrington’s mouth was twisted in a mocking smile.

          ‘Get up, Astley. You’re holding up the game.’ The toe of an outsized trainer nudged his ribs. ‘Nothing wrong with you, apart from being undersized, that is. You want to put on a bit of beef, lad. Build yourself up.’   

          Without waiting for Joe to get up, Mr Berrington jogged off across the field in his spotless blue tracksuit, waving his arms and shouting orders to the other players.

          As Joe struggled to his feet he watched Ethan Fletcher score a spectacular goal. Ethan was big and muscular and, though he was only thirteen, he looked at least three years older. Big Ethan Fletcher was a winner.

          Joe gave a sigh of relief as the final whistle blew. That was it. No more football. No more school and no more Ethan Fletcher. Not for a while anyway. The Easter holidays meant three weeks away from school. Twenty-one days away from old Berrington and twenty-one multiplied by twenty-four – whatever that made – hours away from the Fletcher gang.

          As he limped towards the changing rooms, Joe smiled. He thought of all the time he would be able to spend on his bike. All the miles he would pedal and the hills he would climb. There wasn’t a hill in the area that he couldn’t ride.

          He was covered in mud. His kit looked like one of those adverts on the telly. The one where the nagging mother drops the filthy black clothes into the washing machine, sprinkles in the magic powder and then takes out a brand new football kit, not only without a stain on it, but also dried and ironed. He hoped his mother knew which powder to buy.

          ‘Cor! You look like a slime monster from the deep.’ Alan Saunders grinned at him. ‘Bet you can’t wait to get into the showers today.’

          Usually Joe hated the showers. He preferred to be covered up. His grey trousers and white shirt made him look the same as everyone else. They covered his skinny body, hiding it from the jeers of the Fletcher gang.

          He ripped off his mud encrusted kit and, wrapped in his towel, made a dash into the shower. Soon the steam, warm and thick as fog, filled the cubicle. The football pitch was rinsed from his hair and face, revealing his ginger curls and freckles. The others were beginning to arrive, jostling each other for the cubicles nearest the changing room. He wrapped the towel around himself and sprinted back to where Alan was waiting for him.

          ‘Fletcher and his mates have been messing about by your clothes,’ said Alan. ‘I couldn’t see what they were up to.’

          Joe looked down at the floor. His dirty kit was still sitting there in a heap. And his uniform was hanging where he’d left it. Everything seemed to be there. Perhaps Ethan hadn’t had time to hide any of it after all. With the towel wrapped tightly around his waist he put on his shirt and sweater. With his top half safely covered he reached for his underpants. They were missing.   

          A quick search proved useless. Ethan had pinched his pants but which ones were they? Joe prayed they were the plain red ones or the striped blue pair. Then he remembered. He’d been wearing an old pair. Nothing wrong with them, Mum had said when he’d tried to throw them out. Nothing except they had pictures of dinosaurs front and back and they never wore out. They were years old. Four at least. They still fitted even though the label said…

          ‘To fit age 6,’ bellowed Ethan, jumping on the bench opposite and waving the multi-coloured pants above his head. ‘Hey, listen you lot. One of the kids in our class shouldn’t be here. He’s only just out of nappies. Our class is for twelve and thirteen year olds not for kids who wear six year olds’ underpants.’

          The dinosaurs took flight, skimming high over Joe’s head, to be caught by John Bowen.

          ‘Pretty, ain’t they? Here, Gary, take a look.’

          Gary, hopping from one bench to another, snatched the dinosaurs from the air. He held his nose with his finger and thumb and inspected the underwear. ‘Really pretty. Fly pretty pants. Fly.’

          He flicked them upwards and laughed as they landed around one of the light fittings.

          Joe knew what they wanted him to do. Now he was supposed to try to get them back and give them a good laugh at the same time. Well, he wasn’t going to give them that pleasure. In a way they had done him a favour. He would go home minus his underpants and if Mum noticed they were missing he would confess to losing them in the changing room. It was the truth, in a way.

          He turned his back on Ethan and, trying to look as though he had all the time in the world, finished dressing, picked up his sports-bag and walked out.

Monday, February 02, 2015

February giggle blog - It's a kind of magic

Four year old Amelia was showing us some magic tricks. We were sitting around the dining table. She carefully placed several small toys in front of her and made them disappear, one by one. She did this by saying the magic word, Abracadabra, and then swishing the chosen toy off the table and into her lap where she hid them in a bag. Naturally, we all pretended we didn’t see this not-so-sleight of hand.
If we had known what she had magicked away, without any of us seeing, we would have clapped and cheered more enthusiastically. Somehow, she managed to ‘invisible’ a drinks coaster. It was discovered much later, once she was home and her parents checked her bag. They sent us a photo so that we could admire her skills.

 And from Sue Blackburn-

Giggle blog - my lovely Mum again!
Discussing classical music and Chamber Music came up.
Friend: "I like Chamber Music do you, Pauline?"
Mum: "No I don't like Chamber Music. I can't stand all that tinkling sound!"