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Creativity The nostalgic memories Issue spring 2012


Editor’s Word

A Magazine Collection of C ardiff University ’s Most Talented Artists, Writers and Photographers

Yas Langley Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief - Sub Editor - Graphic Designer - Photography Editor - Proof Reader - Front Cover by -

Yas Langley Emma Jarrett Anna Grudeva Lucy Chip Sophie Dutton; Alex Mathias Bethany Kelsall

Raj Ramachandran

So summer’s finally here. Well it was, then it disappeared before making a short, teasing reappearance and vanishing again. Now some of us are down the beach while the rest of the country is covered in snow. Hopefully though, by the time you are reading this the ice will have thawed and the nation will be basking in sunshine - while us students are locked away revising of course. Whether we get a summer this year or not, it was still a pleasure to produce a magazine with images and words of sunshine and happy memories; what a contrast to our previous dark issue of the Seven Deadly Sins. That’s the wonderful thing about being creative, whether it’s with your pen or the camera, there really is no limit - hopefully something that this issue demonstrates. With a range of comic, nostalgic, philosophical and even vintage pieces, it has been a privilege to go through all the original and beautiful submissions we received this term. And unfortunately for me, this was the last time I get to do this as I hand the torch over to the next Editor-In-Chief who I’m sure will do a fantastic job. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our graphic designer Anna Grudeva who has been with the magazine for three years and is responsible for all the beautifully designed pages in front of you. Her departure however leaves space for a new graphic designer to get involved with creating this magazine; if you are interested in this opportunity please don’t hesitate to get in touch at creativity@gairrhydd.com. Also a big Thank You goes out to every single person who submitted and helped out with producing both of this year’s issues; and as I head out to the big bad world of Australia and inevitable unemployment, I would also like to wish you all good luck with whatever next year brings.


4

It was a black woolen overcoat with two rows of brass buttons that gleamed like drops of gold. Much of that first day was spent modeling it in front of the long mirror inside my parents’ wardrobe door. Indulging in performance, I would pop the lapels up around my hairless jaw-line, turn sideways, tug at the cuffs importantly, thrust my hands into the deep pockets, make my eyes moody. The coat transformed me into this creature of sophistication, of allure. It thrilled me to my core. My mother had bought it for my thirteenth birthday with money we couldn’t spare. She didn’t say as much, but I could tell from the wonderful weight of the wool. I put it on and she implored me to turn for her with her hands clasped over her heart. “Oh Johnny, you look so grown-up and handsome.” And to my father, “Doesn’t he look smart, Jack?” I turned to him, a rare treat, home on leave for my birthday. He had not moved his newspaper from in front of his face. “Jack.” My mother’s voice trembled almost imperceptibly. The paper lowered a fraction. My father’s pale grey eyes studied me for a second or two. “Yes. He does.” The paper was returned to its place. I felt my cheeks flush. His words were like falling stars. My mother’s face shone as she straightened one of the lapels and smoothed my hair. “You’ll have all the girls after you now.” I believed it. With my head on the pillow, I gazed at the silhouette it made on its hanger on the door and dreamt of Sweet-as-Candy Mandy from the year above fingering the winking gold of the buttons, or plunging her hands into the warm pockets while she kissed me on the mouth. And the others would stare because I had become a man and left them behind. I believed it all.

Sophie Dutton

29.11.1846

Erik Fagerman

the coat

5


On train, gazing out, Side rain runs past, hands tracing, Getting to where you’ve gone.

The chill of seeing An empty blanket and leash On a passing street…

Smile on frosted glass Gift from a passing traveler Stays with me all day

6

7

The rav’n silenced an Hour ago. It’s not like him to Leave things unfinished. Bethany Kelsall

Traffic moves slowly Gives time to think about things Wish I took the train

Chloe Jenkins 23.09.1877


What is Love Without Words Don’t wait for me to come, I am always around. I drift away but I still care, we never quite made it but the connection was there, I would sail the oceans twice over again, if it lead me to knowledge of how to be close to you, my friend, and you would fight for queen and country, because you’d know you would be protecting me once more. but alas, we made no such move, time stood still upon the things we once stood for. a kick-start is needed to get it roaring once more.

9

a tattoo on my heart still shows, a declaration of love never fades, silently sighing, simmering in intention, a purpose of which one’s blood does sing, as it passes my heart, reading the words i still remember, just a dream of the past where our hands never touched, but our minds did explore words of significance, and feelings you see, as what is love without words, and words with out love?

Sophie Banks 18.02.1901

Clare Welsh

8


10

Children deal in strange currencies. For my brothers and I it was conkers, hazelnuts and shiny stones, all horded and gloated over. The only time we ever really collaborated or co-operated in what could be termed “team-work” was in fishing for trout. We would leave the farm in the early afternoon once the August heat had rendered the lawn insufferable and exhausted the possibilities of cricket. It wasn’t what you would call a working farm, but it still bore the relics of a more industrious past. Once on the move the sun-baked irritability would ease with the kicking of heels, nettle chasing and snatched handfuls of seeds. We longed for the cool long grass beneath sap sticky leaves and the shade of the stream bed. My two brothers and I were going “trouting”. That was what it was called and had been so since we made our first early forays over the fence and into the no-mans land of the surrounding fields. Technically it could be called trout tickling. Those of a legal persuasion would probably call it poaching. We had dug the pond by hand, fifteen feet around, fed by the small stream that sprung up from the copse to the north, and dammed by our small hands with silt and stone. It was indeed a true feat of engineering. I held lofty images of the great Canadian lakes and the elegant arc of a fisherman’s cast. So we weren’t going poaching, merely liberating a few poor fish from their little pools to our lovely palatial pond. Somewhere to grow and breed, to snatch flies, flop and splash on still summer evenings. The trout stream was three fields away, beyond our territory, on the other farmer’s land. He had a shotgun and that made him a proper farmer. He caught us one day, tramping brazenly through the fallow grass with buckets and nets and grimly humoured our vain excuses of butterfly hunts. We were far younger then. But year after year his trout ponds groaned with monstrous fish and every winter they would flood and some would escape, down through the rushing gullies in search of something more. When the summer came and the streams returned to a trickle they would rest in small pools, a prime target. The farmer warned us that he’d seen a mother adder’s nest, the vile creature crooked beneath the stream bank protecting her young. Her forked tongue tasting the moistened air and her fangs ready for greedy wandering hands. I never forgot that image and it haunted my prying fingers as they searched between and beneath the rocks. The adder seemed to be there year after year, but so were we. The oldest was always in possession of the net and he wielded it like a holy sceptre. A head taller and shoulders broader, like an unelected Peer he perches on the bank to issue orders and finally dip the net into the pool at the crucial moment. “Boys, boys! Down there, see his fin. There! Bloody hell it’s huge!” His hushed but heckling commentary directed and followed our actions. Every fish was huge in his mind for he was a permanent boy-scout. His leadership was unquestionable but I didn’t care much. He was thirteen and I was eleven. That’s how things are at that age. It meant he also carried the heavy bucket home, sloshing with water and dazed fish. I had decided even then that I was not made for manual labour. The youngest was the engineer. Working only with his hands he would dam the pool up then in a flurry, drain it down to flush the quarry from its hiding place. He talks quietly to himself, betraying some mild internal amusement by a slight turn at the corner of the mouth. His furtive small eyes are alive with the sound of running water watching for escaping fish. He was much smaller and a few years younger than us, perhaps eight years old. His dirty blond hair and freckled summer skin was yet to suffer the self consciousness of the wider world outside our little farm. Myself, the middle as always. A tubby round faced creature with squinting eyes

and greasy hair. My fringe always just that bit too long and continually clogging my eyes was brushed aside with damp fingers. I would crouch, feral in shorts and wellies, fingers probing, gently at first, beneath each new rock then stretching further, mapping and searching each ledge. No speech, it’s all in the hands for I am an artist you see. Somewhere beneath that muddy veneer is the quarry. I’m feeling for a flash of underbelly, a silkened flesh to tickle, soothe and pluck into the naked air and the waiting net. It’s gentle, no hooks and no pain. I am the hand of God. Three crouch low and hushed on the stream bed, one with his arm deep in a nook beneath the bank, poised to deliver. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit.” I yelp and curse as I snatch back my tempered hand. The eloquence and artistry are thrashed aside in muddy spray. But no, it’s not the infernal maternal beast. No secret fangs sink into my hands. There’s something huge under there though and I can sense it moving to new ground, trying to get downstream. But we’re good at this. So many summers practise, I know she can’t get away. As my hand slides gently under her belly my squint drops and my eyes gasp wide, rising to meet those of my brothers. There are nods and understanding. How many years has this marvellous fish been hiding down there, how many silent seasons growing in her murky lair? Our glances turn to chuckles; turn to whoops and squawks as the mighty prize is ushered into the net. That day we only needed to bring one fish home. But what can you do once you realise you’ve caught the biggest fish? When you all become too tall to lurk in the long grass. When nimble feet begin to clump and tempers flare over who should claim the catch. We all grew up and went looking for new currencies. The oldest became a teacher. Unsurprising, but in truth he became a teacher of the best kind. He hops around the classroom with that same old itch. Each day he pulls the class together with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a fresh convert and they follow him on field trips and flights of imagination. The youngest kept his feet in the ground. His small hands grew large and strong with labour and family. He reverently took in every detail of soil and stone and now in turn he runs his own farm. Each day he quietly and methodically builds a new fence and wall and cares for his flock within. The middle followed the sweet old metaphors of streams and rivers and ended up at sea. He’s never quite got away from wondering what might be hiding beneath the surface although science has given him a greater hand. He spends his time mapping the oceans, charting the seabed, still searching for a bigger fish to bring home to his own pond. Whatever life brings, there will always be time for fishing.

11

A.Metcalf 24.12.1899

Emmanouela Tzerani

Trouting


Nothing Comes Of Lullabies They painted me a starlit night, Of passion fires and endless flights, Of boys in jeans and hearts alight, Of secret glances and stolen sights. They gave me a sultry promise, Of breaking dawn and sunrise, Of holding safety in boys eyes, And whispered words on hips and thighs What I got was broken rubbers, Crying eyes and grunts and blubbers. What was real was hell and troubles, Forgotten girls in broken bubbles.

Claire Travers

Untitled

Words so smooth my eyes slip past, falling 28.08.1914 over and under your tumbling prose, so painfully crafted, effortlessly forgotten. My gaze strolls her lines imagining that hair flowing this way and that, over and under my face looking at your face, which, I would dare to say is not as special as Woolf’s writing, but still, enough to rapture me between her lesser paragraphs. Paragraphs few and far between, Pupils dash back and forth and, but oh your face, so distraught at my distractions. It is her distracting me, From those rough poetries on your special face

Laurence Astill

19.09.1868.

Clare Welsh

12

What they sold me came up shit, Their magic kisses and rosied lips, Were foul grabbing and an ashtray kiss. I deserved more than this.


Hyde Park, 1890

Catriona Camacho

12.06.1890

15

Bethany Kelsall

14

It is a warm day, for all its dull grey cloud. Tom feels it through his gnarled old fingers, clutching the paper cover of his book, and is glad he did not have to bother with his wide woollen muffler. The park bench is pleasantly sun-warmed, and there are more taking the air today than usual. He leans back, wincing as the movement stretches rheumatic joints, and looks about him. You got all sorts here. There are the serious: the bankers and lawyers in their top hats who come every luncheon for a brisk stroll, twice around the lake, just as the doctor ordered. And of course, there are the youngsters: still completing their apprenticeships who sit piled onto benches and eat their lunches from tin cartons. They’re positioned carefully so as to have a good view of the shop girls in their cottonprint skirts and tight waistcoats on the opposite bench. It does not seem so long since Tom himself was one of them, working for W. Pearson & Sons, Butchers. He was taken on as apprentice to their clerk, learned the trade that way, and had just taken over as their book keeper when he met Marcy. She’d been sitting in a sun-beam in the dusty glass cash-desk at the front of the shop, and he’d seen the sun shining off hair as bright as a new penny. He had been a lost man from that very moment. A fairy-tale beginning, but it wasn’t as easy as that – for it had taken six months of scripted lines followed by nervous conversation before she’d agreed to step out with him. And then there had been Jayne Jenkins, who he’d already been walking out with for a year before he’d met Marcy, and she hadn’t taken kindly to being brushed aside. He wasn’t welcome in her family’s millinery shop for five years afterwards. But Tom Billington had finally swept Marcy Taylor up the middle aisle in a hoop-skirted muslin dress and new black boots, and he thought his heart would burst with pride. There were hard times too, when every penny was hoarded like it was gold. When they no longer joked about the whores and renters who wandered the park with the rest, but watched them with hooded eyes, neither daring to say that it was just possible that they might sink so low. Then W. Pearson and Sons was a failing business, and they were desperate to keep their heads above water. But times had picked up by and by, and they learned to laugh again. Tom still thinks of Marcy as that pretty little creature in the sun-beam, though the copper hair is grey and she has grown stout. She’s at home now, probably settled in front of the fire with her sewing, and he knows she likes it when he is out from under her feet so she can have the living room to herself for once. There are grandchildren now, who come over of a Sunday, and Marcy cooks a joint of beef and they play parlour games after dinner and have a merry time. But the ladies’ skirts are thinner now, and caught up behind them with bustles, a style that looks ridiculous to their old eyes. Tom knows he and Marcy are getting past it, and he has a feeling one day soon either one of them is going to have to finish up here alone. But still, he thinks, leaning back on the bench, it’s not a bad old life.


Brenna Mack

Peter Hong


Smouldering worlds and dancing decadence. Crying eyes and tear filled goodbyes Ashes to ashes and dust to dust Soldiers go where they must The ships set sail While loved ones wail Following the nations demand To fight and die in a distant land This is the role of the soldier The Old Soldier wanders the wastes Away from the city Away from the light The world he fought for is gone Not by loss but by victory Its people now speak the language of war A language he knows too well Alone the Old Soldier soldiers on The Old Soldier is left to wander

Ignored as a relic It had not always been that way But no one wanted to hear What the Old Soldier had to say The people mistook his words for fear He wanders without rhyme or reason Without companion or purpose His eyes have seen too much His hands have done too much His face is old For what price was his youth sold His scars have faded from sight But the Old Solider remembers Faded photographs of those who went to fight But the Old Soldier remembers

But the rest were lost Left behind on smouldering worlds Immortalised in neglected monuments Honoured in forgotten tales The Old Soldier still remembers But the world he fought for is gone He is the last The last of the Old Soldiers Cursed to last With a tear he wearily walks the wastes.

Nicholas Mcdermott 14.06.1887

His walk should not have been alone

31

Emmanouela Tzerani

The Old Soldier


Time

Scott Grayson-Davies 05.10.1943

21

Erik Fagerman

20

My watch sits on my left wrist day in day out. It never complains about what I do with it or where I take it; the little round face just stares up at me the same way it always has. 10:21, it tells me, plenty of time yet, no need to rush. Time changes lives and will carry on doing so long after we’ve gone. It’s like a memory; you don’t miss it till it’s gone. We all take it for granted but our personal time bombs will keep ticking down and down until the digits plummet to zero. As I look around my room, one picture in particular catches my eye It was taken during a holiday in Rome, a Christmas present for my girlfriend. When you see something that seems like yesterday and remember that those smiles were two years old – that really hits home. It’s as if an army of little soldiers have set up camp inside my watch and their job is to just push the hands around as quickly as they can. ‘Two years? Pfftt, we can make that go by like it was two weeks!’ shouts the little Sergeant. A sign pinned on my wall always reminds me to make the most of the time I have: ‘Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’ As I take another glance at my reliable companion, it shouts at me for not listening again. I must’ve zoned out for a minute... ‘11:33. Damn! I’m late for uni!’


Secretly I feel the breath of another in my lungs. As unpeeling my lips, this pen, bloom in the sun’s fallen rise. We all are moving still. Sat packaged like parcels, all written and read. I am to be carried away. In sky’s weary light, unread me, dear. Secretly, I am sent to you. The track points in your direction, as each traveller pauses in global expectation. Light a match in their dark, set their sun alight, cast far out our small spark. Once again, unread my address in their dark.

Caitlin Maggs 02.02.1875

22

Ghosts You move like juddering GIF files, mere flashes of footage, replaying constantly while your names spill from my lips. As I walk through our old haunts, and you trudge behind me, pushing over our bodies, basking in the receding sun. We drift through different ages, under the same library arches where we grew up and out of ourselves. Picnics, bonfires, bloodshed, and your scowls forever emblazoned in my mind. The things you remember when all that’s left is Ghosts.

Holly Tibble 18.03.1984

23


kettlewell

Alice Crabtree

22.03.1866

25

brenna mack

24

From here, I can hold you in my hands, looking down from the top of this hill with fingers clasped, clutching your petite frame – like an egg not too dissimilar from those we used to search so desperately for at Easter. In the bushes, nestled gently between crisp, frost-laden leaves, lay the treasures we chose to value far more than what they deserved. Sweet gifts grew into buds of excitement, which blossomed into feelings of contentment as we all sat down, looking back upon a familiar sight that seemed all too rare in our day-to-day lives. These moments were the colours of my youth, painting memories that fade too quickly now in reality, yet still beat so intensely beneath my chest. ‘Look out for the goblins!’ my dad used to tease as we trekked further and further up towards the source of the Beck, passing endless caves and hollows – or ‘goblin houses’ – as we went. The journey was never too tiring, the wind never too strong and the rain never too heavy. We always managed to spend several hours up there, breathing above the mountain tops. Like kings we’d let our thoughts surf the first few puffs of cloud cover, and we’d stretch out our fingertips to feel the gales whistling through them, in that vast divide between reality and the freedom of childhood naivety. In a world where the wind would blow any care off of you like dust gathering on a mantelpiece, where any worries were drowned out beneath endless roars of laughter, we found peace. I’ll always remember the looks my cousins, my brother, my sister and I would get from passers-by as we leapt carelessly into the freezing pools that took shape up along the Beck. The hilarity of each other’s faces as we felt the piecing embrace of the water blanketing itself around us, and the red-raw skin (that we’d later come to hate) snatched hours from us until we’d all re-group around the fire; nursing our aching limbs beneath beaming grins that even the most vicious cold failed to steal away. And so the months would pass and before we knew it, it was Christmas and time for the first snow in Kettlewell. Stretching out of bed in the early hours of the morning, we’d catch the sun rising above glistening white hilltops and would tear through the bright, virgin snow with our toboggans while the rest of the village still slept. Each patch of snow was a glistening array of brilliant white crystals, paving the way for memories waiting to be made. I look back on this patchwork quilt of my time spent with you with a smile on my face, each memory weaving itself alongside the next with the finest golden thread. We were all so young, and now time is no longer on our side. Yet, I still feel the warm squeeze of nostalgia, at times, cushioning the weight of the world upon my shoulders, and it allows me to drift weightlessly back to you… back to Kettlewell.


The Bus Trip – A Tale Of Derring Do We met whilst on the same bus. That was really all we shared in common and even I’m not clutching-at-straws enough to hold that up as some totem of our undying love for one another. I say ‘met’ on the same bus – perhaps ‘were travelling on’ would be a more accurate summary of our relationship. Either way, she was gorgeous. Not like celebrity gorgeous; real life gorgeous, celebrity gorgeous’ try hard sibling. Hair tied up, wearing a look of weariness that said ‘stop looking at me,’ and displaying body language that echoed disgust. My kind of woman. Of course our relationship would never segue into any formal chit chat, and I was blissfully aware of this for the last 10 per cent of our journey together. However, for that first 90 per cent she was my damsel in distress, and I was here to save her from the tedium of British Rail’s replacement bus service. S he – let’s call her Fiona for argument’s sake – was sat reading some work of literature. I was sat listening to the free sample tracks on my mobile phone on repeat. We were the perfect conflation of the zeitgeist. Like The Terminator and Sarah Connor perhaps. I don’t know, I’ve never seen any of the films. Either way, we were made for each other. And while I sat there, listening, tapping anxiously on my bag, looking out of the window, trying to seem aloof, Fiona read. She read, and she read and she read. The words filling up her eyes and taking her brain and consciousness to other places, other realms. I mean, ultimately it turned out she was reading some rubbish George R.R. Martin book, but for that perfect 70 minutes, she was everything I wanted in a woman and more. This was all until Dan-The-Bus-Journey-Ruining-Bastard came along and did a big shit turd all over my pipe dreams. “Hi Dan.” The mobile phone colloquy started off simply enough. Perhaps Fiona was talking to her brother, or another male relative, or maybe even a male friend. I was, of course, totally relaxed about this. It doesn’t do at all to be overbearing about these things in the early days of a relationship. You don’t want to seem too off-hand and uncaring, but conducting searches of her personal effects and interrogating her about hidden meanings possibly present in text messages generally doesn’t go down well, I’ve found. I must confess, the whole conversation seemed a tad selcouth. Fiona seemed in high spirits, I passed this off as jubilation at the nearing termination of our journey. That was when I saw the ring. The shiny, expensive looking, ‘stay away’ sheath of metal adorning her left ring finger. How could she? As if it wasn’t bad enough that his name was Dan, she’d only gone and got engaged to this Warlock without my prior consent, communication or anything even approaching agreement. I felt betrayed. I was almost sick into my own Sainsbury’s bag. The chap next to me – let’s call him Alan – was clearly psychic, he had that sort of face. Alan, noting the change in brainwaves, turned a sickly ashen colour. ‘Don’t do it,’ he warned. It would later turn out he was referring to my sudden and almost inevitable feeling of emesis. ‘But I loved her,’ I replied, not realising where he was coming from. Alan gave me a discomfiting look and turned away just as a sluice gate of vomit poured from my mouth and coated the floor of the coach. Fiona turned around, eyes agape. ‘Look what you’ve reduced me to,’ I screamed, pointing at her. ‘And you can tell Dan he’s a dead man.’ The rhyme was, of course, unintentional but, retrospectively, I think it worked quite well. By now the bus had stopped, everyone was getting off. Fiona and Alan alighted the bus and stepped out into the dull orange embrace of the car park lighting, and I watched, drenched in my own sick, as love escaped me once again.

26

Dom Wooler

clare welsh

30.06.1955

27


Please don’t die, I can’t bear the thought, Of not seeing you again. Logic darkly whispers: ‘You won’t be with her again.’ It seems so steep, Too large a feat, What the godless see, That we’re not together, Forever.

28

If you should die Before my eyes, You should know, I’m so glad I’ve met you, I’ll never forget you Never regret you, Carrying you each day In all thoughts and ways, Remembering all you say and said,

If others weigh me down, I know you’ll keep me off the ground, Although your voice will not be near In memories you’ll still be here. I’ll pray every night, That science isn’t right, That we’ve a place in the light. If I grow old alone, Mind shedding severely, To the point I can’t recall you, All the light of your life Will flee from these eyes Until all that remains is darkness, Though I know you’ll still be with me,

(but please don’t go yet) The way I walk and talk Sit and stare, Lose my hair Tears streaming, The way I die, The last breath, The ashes dancing Seeking you, Wanting to be with you, Forever. This was all decided When I met you.

David Tierney 17.08.1849

Emmanouela Tzerani

i’ll never forget you

29


30

The next morning was bright and crisp as a sour apple. A veneer of frost made the world glitter. My mother brushed invisible specks from my coat and kissed me on the forehead. “You look after that coat now,” she said as she rubbed at the pale lipstick mark she’d left. “Or it’ll be coming out of your own pocket.” My father stood at the top of the stairs, straight-backed. He had never gotten up to see me off to school before. The suggestion of a smile softened his face into something I recognised from years ago. He saluted me, one man to another. I mimicked him, my chest swelling. I marched into that silvery day with the frost crunching under my glorious step and my breath misting in fantastic white plumes like I was smoking a cigarette. This was going to be the beginning of a new life. As I came towards the school-gates I saw them. They slouched against the wall, smoking real fags. My step faltered for one moment, but then I slid my fists into my deep pockets. I was going to walk past and stare them all in the eye, keeping them at bay with my adult confidence. Things had changed now. They would not dare, not anymore. Robert O’Toole made eye contact first. He gave his neighbour an eager poke in the ribs. One by one, they followed the direction of his pointing finger. Someone snorted. I stared straight back, biting on the inside of my cheeks. They would not dare, not anymore. Beckett Briar turned last of all, his blunt pit-bull snout swiveling slowly, scenting prey. The small eyes glistened. My knees quivered, but I refused to shrink. He pushed the others aside and stood as leader of the pack, an impenetrable wall of muscle and bone that blocked out the winter sun. Smoke slithered through the gaps in his sharp-toothed smile. I dropped my gaze. “Bonny Johnny’s got a new coat,” he said in a vinegar voice. The others circled, scavengers. Gripping my wrist easily in one hand, Beckett pinched his fag-end between his teeth as he stroked the smart wool lapel with filthy fingers. I shuddered, helpless. “Very pretty, isn’t he, lads?” The pack jeered obediently. “Give us a twirl!” Robert crowed. Tightening his grip on my wrist, Beckett yanked my arm straight up into the air, smirking as he felt my feeble attempts to snatch it back. “Let me go.” My voice came out as such a whisper that even I cringed at the sound. With grotesque tenderness, Beckett began to twirl me like a ballerina. My cheeks burned as they all howled with glee, wolf-whistling and poking at me. “You’re going to be the heart-throb of the school now, aren’t you, Johnny?” Beckett said. I looked down the row of gold buttons on my chest, willing the tears in my eyes not to spill. “But I think that beautiful coat needs a little something.” He looked around the group conspiratorially, before bringing his fierce face close to mine. “A few minor

adjustments.” Simultaneously, they plunged their spiteful cigarette butts into the clean, expensive wool of my new coat. Smoke sprang forth with a sorrowful sigh. I choked, thrashing with horror, but they had me surrounded. The brass buttons were plucked away like gleaming candies, and popped one by one down the drain where the dirty rainwater flowed. They ripped at the warm pockets and the rakish collar. They smeared stinking grit from the ground into the heavy wool. Beckett took his time polishing his knuckles on his shirt front, making me wait for it. “I think your beautiful face should match your beautiful coat, don’t you?” I squeezed my eyes shut just as he sent his granite fist crunching into my nose. The blood dribbled down my face with the tears and stained the coat with despair. As a finishing touch, Robert O’Toole spat on me, his grey saliva weeping down the one remaining lapel. Beckett stood back, admired their handiwork. “Tsk tsk,” he murmured as they sauntered away. “What will Mummy say?” Clinging to the remains of my new coat, I stumbled blindly back the way I had come. I passed Mandy in her mini-skirt. Smearing the blood and salt-slime across my face with the back of my hand, I shrank away from her sweet grimace. I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face. She screamed as though she’d been struck. She pulled me gently out of my new coat, the coat she couldn’t really have afforded, and laid it carefully on the kitchen chair, as if it were still pristine. “It can still be fixed,” she said, cradling my sore head, rocking me. But we both recognised the lie. It would never be the same. My father came in while she was searching for her sewing box. He looked at my bloodied nose, the stinking, torn heap of black wool. His eyes were as cold and dead as steel. “Pathetic,” he said. Later that night, I saw my mother sitting on her bed, my mutilated coat over her knees. She was bent over it, her head in her hands, trying to stifle the sound of her sobs in the silent house.

Sophie Dutton 24.12.1846

31

Alice Marriott

The Coat Part II


Next Issue’s theme will be

The Wild

If you are eager to submit you can send us your creative writing, photography and ar at creativity@gairrhydd.com From the current editorial team we would like to say:

! s k l o f l l a s ’ t a h T

We had an amazing time building and asembling the magazine, shared some amazing memories and we hope that we meet once again, when we’re all famous! ve, o l h c na Mu n A d a an m m E Yas, xxx


Creativity Spring 2012  

Creativity Spring 2012

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