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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Evidence that every now and again Fran takes a break from the frivolity

REVISION

The loft in the house they were in now didn’t have old school books in it, just frayed scraps of carpet and an electric fire left there by the previous tenants.  No brown suitcase, heavy with school memories.  No photograph of her with missing teeth.  She couldn’t, then, trace her childhood through large round writing, Tudor kings, neat Maths, revision notes, school photos with shy smiles. 

She could remember writing about birds, though, when she was about seven.  A project.  Choose your favourite subject and do a project on it.  She’d been given a good mark for that.  Funny, really.  She had no interest in birds at all now.  That made her wish even more that she could see her old school books.  How had she changed since childhood, that birds used to fascinate her?  Where that part of her had been, now there was nothing.

At some point, presumably, her mother, or somebody, had thrown her school books away.  They’d had a small house.  Maybe she’d just wanted to save space.  She tried to picture this, her mother sitting cross-legged on a bedroom floor, sipping coffee, leafing through her child’s early work with a fond smile before reluctantly adding it to a pile for disposal.  It didn’t fit.     

No, it must have been her grandparents.   After her mother’s suicide, so someone had told her, her grandparents had cleared the tiny terrace of all its contents and burned everything.  At the time, the implications of this hadn’t been clear to her, but now she could imagine the scene.  The two of them, bereaved too early, bitter, feeding a greedy blaze in an old dustbin with Beatles records, medical certificates, boxes of toys, diaries.  Especially diaries.     

Perhaps she’d been at school one day, in a cookery lesson, unaware that someone, somewhere, was dropping a pile of birthday papered exercise books, with her name on them, into an old box and then adding it to the flames.   Along with teddies?  Letters from penpals?  Favourite dolls’ clothes?  She scrabbled at her memory for times when she’d said: “Does anyone know where that notebook went, the one I wrote stories in?  Or my rabbit with the torn foot?”, but nothing was there.   Moving from place to place, with all that had happened, perhaps things like that had gone unnoticed, not missed, even precious things.

That birds project.  She hadn’t done it in an exercise book, she remembered now.  It had been carefully written on separate sheets of paper, made into a book using treasury tags and red card for the covers.   

On the front, a picture of a crow, crayoned in black. 


           
             

            

35 comments:

  1. Beautifully written with a great courage and strength .

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    1. Thank you, SmitAndSon. That's a lovely comment.

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  2. What SmitoniusAndSonata said!!

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    1. What I said to SmitAndSon!

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  3. Lovely, wistful, sad...really an emotional piece. Nice work.

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm glad it got to you.

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  4. A wonderful read. Very satisfying.

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    1. Thanks, Stephen. I like your judgement of 'satisfying'. That's a good compliment.

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  5. Wow, Mrs Fran. Just wow.

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    1. Don't worry about the 'just'. Wow is fine!

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  6. No! this is so sad, where is the rest of the story? I want to buy the book. A project about my favourite subject would always have been about cats. Not much else for me to write about.

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    1. Ah, yes, ahem. The book .... Maybe one day!

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  7. Wow! Is this part of a novel or short story? It's lovely, Fran.

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    1. Not yet, Frances! Thanks for reading.

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  8. " birthday papered exercise books " that's what we did.

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  9. Very, very good. Tender and touching. Touching me in exactly the right spot. Oh, no, that's the vibrator. But I love your writing.

    Love,
    Janie

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  10. Yes, I like.

    I like the funnies too, but this I LIKE.

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    1. Thanks, Friko. I don't think it's just you. Somehow I seem to get more comments when I go serious. It's weird. I may have missed my true vocation ....

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  11. Oh, my goodness. So sad and so powerful. I am sentimental and I am a hoarder and this piece really got to me. I threw out a box or two of schoolbooks when we moved house and I know I shouldn't have...
    Lovely writing. As always, spot on.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. That's a really nice comment. I'm not a hoarder at all, funnily enough. I throw things away far too easily and then regret it. We do have one suitcase which the family calls the 'nostalgia' case and that's quite fun to go through on a wet Sunday afternoon! I did throw away all my notes from my English degree (10 years ago) and have regretted it since, having taught most of the texts since then and needed them!

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  12. Beautiful writing, and it stirred lots of memories. How easily we throw things away because they seem to be of no importance or interest at the time, yet as we get older how much we treasure the few fragments of our past lives that do somehow survive. I've only got one souvenir from my schooldays - an account of a school trip that won me a prize - but I've kept several of my children's school books for when they're old enough to want to keep them for themselves.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comments, Linda. I'm sure your children will be glad you kept the books - there's something about early school writing such as 'My dairy of my weakend' that becomes very precious!

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  13. Sad, but beautiful. Made me remember various items that Mum must have thrown away ..particularly my metal Muffin the Mule puppet! Quite annoyed about that actually!

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    1. Now that's not on, throwing away a Muffin the Mule!

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  14. I liked this a lot. You make it very moving without sentimentality. Hard to write that way. Well done. You should be more serious more often...

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    1. You're not the first to suggest that I should be serious more often ... it's not always in the context of the writing, though. Thanks for your comment, Still. x

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    2. Are there other pieces waiting to be booked? Part of me is indignant, how could the grandparents DO that to a little girl?

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  15. Beautiful and evocative. Like this very much.

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. I'm glad you liked it.

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  16. I'm glad I didn't miss this one, Fran. Following the divorce of my parents, we were evicted and ended up living with my grandparents. A lot of things had to go. It was as though some of my dearest possessions had been sucked into the vacuum caused by my father's speedy departure.

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    1. I honestly think people get rid of things so quickly as a response to grief/anger etc. Thanks for your comment, Martin.

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  17. This time you had me in tears of memory and not laughter. My stepmother threw out all my toys when I was nine years old...they were the ones I left behind when my mother and I walked out with one suitcase between us just a year before. My uncles had made and painted many of those toys...a doll's bed, an ironing board and a little iron and many other lovelies that memory has lost.

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    1. People can be so cruel. I think perhaps they let their own motivations and passions get in the way of realising the effect they will have on others.

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