Welcome! You have found the home of 'Being Me', Fran Hill's blog. Please browse my posts and if you like what you read, you'll enjoy my book 'Being Miss' which you can order from my website or on Amazon. My next book 'Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?' will be published by SPCK Publishing in 2020. My website is at www.franhill.co.uk. Come and visit for more Fran info!
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Evidence that I don't always finish what I start
I've just come across this piece I entered for an 'Opening to a Novel' competition a few years ago. I wrote it, entered it, heard nothing, and years later I find it in my files. I'm most intrigued to know what I intended to write next, should they have written back and said they liked it.
We lay calm in our beds that
night. Even the baby, for once, slept soundly; even the dog, out in its kennel.
And perhaps that was the odd thing, after all: how trustingly we
slumbered. As if fate had gifted us a few last wholly innocent hours, before
innocence fell away for ever. For when I woke, in the early morning – what was
it? A difference in the quality of the light? Some new texture to the silence?
But I opened my eyes, and I knew it. Something had changed.
Even Mother seemed subdued
at breakfast and her eyes were dark and heavy.
I would say, heavy with an omen, but at that time, she didn’t have the
knowledge. None of us did, except for
Marielle, whose tongue was in mutiny, and who just made tunes at the back of
her throat while feeding her baby, and spoke no to us with her eyes when we
tried to guilt the truth out of her with rebukes.
Not having the knowledge was
an ache, because since Marielle and I slid out of Mother’s womb six minutes
apart, we had never withheld private, secret things. We had even shared breaths
in the night, lying face to face so close, and exchanged darknesses that were not for the
ears of Mother and which would have sent Father scrambling for his wide brown
Now, my twin had a secret
bigger than the whole earth, and it sat between the two of us, a solid thing
behind which she played Peek-a-Boo, only not with joy.
‘When is Father returning?’
I asked, while spooning brown sugar into my breakfast drinking chocolate.
‘Soon, I am sure,’ Mother
said, but her words fell like stones, as though each one were dead before it
left her mouth. I even put an extra
spoon of sugar into my china cup, and she didn’t see, or if she did, she let it
‘Will it be a long voyage?’
I said. Father worked on ships as a
circus performer, teetering on high wires until crowds went ‘Oooh!’ I had only watched him once when we were
twelve and he performed in a local show put on by the Lord Mayor, and that was
only because Marielle and I had tiptoed out into the dark evening when Mother
thought us asleep in the big bed with the dip in the middle where our bodies
lay like two halves of a whole. We had
pulled cloaks on over our nightgowns and slid our naked feet into boots which
we didn’t stop to lace, and had edged into the back of the hall just as Father
was placing one long, slim foot in front of the other long, slim foot as though
in a ballet.
‘Is that Father?’ Marielle had whispered. ‘So – so gentle.’
I stirred the sugar into my
chocolate, clink-clinking the spoon against the cup, and baby Georgia tugged
away from Marielle’s breast to cry. Milk
sprayed from my sister’s nipple and she covered her breast with the thin cotton
of her dress as though with shame.
‘It’s a natural thing,
Marielle,’ said Mother. ‘Here, give me
the baby. I’ll rock her.’
But Marielle would not and
had not, since the baby’s birth six weeks before, given Mother the baby. ‘I am grieving for that little one,’ Mother
had said to me when Marielle was in the garden, pegging white muslins and
flannel squares on a line so that the breeze and they could play. ‘I am grieving, and she is only just born,
Mother did not know that I
had seen how she would watch
for when Marielle had turned her back, and then, walking close to the baby’s
cradle, rest the back of her hand against Georgia’s hot, sleepful cheek, or
twist a lock of baby-fine hair between two fingers. I wouldn’t have known she was doing it, but
her breaths would come faster, like they did when she ran away from Father or
chased a chicken around the yard to break its neck.
Okay, so they're not the real thing, and only there because I had to have two fillings and therefore a shedload of anaesthetic enough to numb a herd of wildebeest. But just for a few hours, as I sit here, just returned from the dentist, my lips feel deliciously Massive.
And they only cost me £36. I bet celebrities pay a LOT more than that.
When I got on the bus back from the dentist, I had to speak to the bus driver, of course. And my lips felt so big, like two barrage balloons top and bottom, that instead of saying, 'Single to Leamington, please,' I said, 'Smibble doo Lebbyt…
This is a scene from a novel I hoped to get published. But I've moved on now and am writing another book which will be published in 2020. Watch this space!
I really like the scene, though. So I thought I'd let you read it, rather than having it fester on my laptop.
Enjoy! It's very much based on my personal experience, and it's a scene that's played out in real life in many, many classrooms across the country. And perhaps the world.
Setting: a secondary school classroom, England. Friday afternoon. Characters: an English teacher and her class
The pupils, as they did every
week at this time, drifted from all corners of the school, in spits and spots
like a gradual, hesitant build-up of rain. They
seemed weary, as did their end-of-the-week uniforms, which drooped and slouched
on their bodies as if drained of life.Indeed, some of their blazers had died and slidden off their bodies like
thin corpses, hanging now from the ends of their fingers. Several pupils had
Or, as my 5 year old granddaughter might put it, 'They've tooken away my bus.'
I'll get back to the bus in a moment.
You've got to love junior grammar. It's not until they're about 7 or 8 that they've fully grasped irregular verb endings. So, she's still saying things like 'I talkid to the man' or 'I rided my bike and wented to the park where I eated my icecream.'
Who can blame her? It's an unjust world of irregular verbs. You emerge from the womb. You learn the verb 'to eat'. You hear someone say, 'I wouldn't have minded. You think, 'Hey, so, mind becomes minded in the past tense. This means that, on the end of verbs, if you want the past tense, you use -ed. I'm going to have a go. Hey, Ma. I eated my dinner.'
'No, dear. It's not eated. It's ate.'
Okay, try this one, Ma. I heard someone say they walked in the garden. So, sometimes the 'ed…