November 19th - and an announcement

Before today's Message, here's advance notice of the January date for the launch of the Your Messages anthology. We'll get in touch with all selected authors by 15th December.

Meet the Authors
of Bluechrome’s collaborative classic

Lynne Rees & Sarah Salway

7pm on Thursday 31st January 2008
The Poetry Café, Betterton Street, Covent Garden
London WC2H 9BX

and celebrate the launch of
an anthology of original writing
selected from thousands of responses.

Lynne and Sarah will talk about their collaboration
and introduce the authors selected for the Your Messages anthology.

And here's today's Message for you. Click on Comments to respond:


It was never like the movie.

Okay, I was sixteen going on seventeen, and I did have a crush on a blonde Hitler youth, but that was the closest it got. The only music in the hills was the goats, and as for us, we hated the sight of each other, couldn’t bear to be in the same room for more time than it took to eat breakfast. They were right about Father (at the beginning), he did have a whistle and used to blow the fucking thing every morning at eight, expecting us to march downstairs and take our allocated places at the table.

The first time I ignored him he stamped upstairs looking for me, dragged the bed covers off then stopped when he saw I was naked. I knew I had some power as soon as I saw his face – his lips quivering and the eiderdown limp in his hands.

‘What?’ I snapped at him, making no attempt to cover my breasts, and I smiled.

He walked out of the room. ‘You’re just like your mother,’ he spat at the door.

He was probably right. She’d been dead for three years, and that’s pretty much how I felt.

The Baroness was a joke. A pathetic simpering twit. And the stuff about all the other governesses was fiction. Father couldn’t bear to have outsiders living in the house but he had to compromise when he was called away for a few months. That’s when Maria came. I can imagine her face if I told her the story about the curtains – she’d have looked up over her black coffee and cigarette, wrinkled her face into disbelief, and screeched with laughter.

It was like this: Father was a Nazi, the nuns betrayed Maria. All I want to do is forget.


  1. It started off with the 50 First Dates. Not because I’d have a short-term memory loss, I just wasn’t sure about you. None of the dates included Breakfast at Tiffany’s, of course. I was no Ice Princess but you weren't a Gentleman or an Officer either.

    We started with Romance and Cigarettes. At first there was more romance, now there’s more and more cigarettes. The Casanova in you got lost, my Dangerous Beauty withered with time and I wouldn’t even get accepted for a Calendar Girl anymore. Not even for charity.

    Although we try and do our best, I’m not sure we can protect ourselves Before the frost. Life’s different twenty years into our marriage. The Grudge, The Omen, Lies and Deception, we’ve been through all that, and I’m pretty sure I can easily count Ten Things I Hate About You. Laws of Attraction are long null and void for us, decades have passed since our High School Musical.

    Although, for a long time, I’ve been a Mujer al borde de un ataque de nervious, I am now at peace with myself and us. We’re just the average Mr. And Mrs. Smith. So, to celebrate us and to re-ignite our Cinderella Story, we visited Paris, after some Persuasion. We weren’t staying in a Hostel, instead we visited Moulin Rouge, we had our Last Tango in Paris and our very own French Kiss. When An American in Paris expressed his admiration for how in love we are, you simply said She’s All That.

    Although Paris, Je T’aime, home is still Sweet Home Alabama. It was easy coming home because I knew I’d never be Home Alone again. It’ll always be You, Me but no Dupree. We finally realized that the twenty plus years together were The Best Years of Our Lives.


  2. I’ve forgotten where I put my keys, again.
    My husband tries to be helpful. ‘Where did you last see them?’ he says.
    ‘Well, if I could remember that, I’d know where they were, wouldn’t I?’
    I get a bit snappy when I’m late for the school-run.

    I normally try blaming the kids (‘someone must have moved them,’), but I usually find them just where I left them, often while thinking: I’m going to forget that I’ve put those there…

    And so, the keys will be on my desk (oh, yes, I remember), on the kitchen worktop (oh, yes, I remember), in my coat/jeans/cardigan pocket (oh, yes, I wear cardigans, but only in the house, you understand). Sometimes they’re even in the key bowl.

    That’s the trouble with having a mushy brain; I forget everything. I am always forgetting where I put my keys. I forget birthdays/anniversaries/dinner invitations. I forget what I’m saying in the middle of…

    Sorry, where was I?

    It’s dreadful. But it’s harmless. Mostly.

    Forgetting to file my tax return cost me £100. Forgetting to put petrol in the car cost me a three-hour walk in the rain. Forgetting to pick my neighbour’s son up from school cost me a bar of chocolate (for him), and a bunch of flowers (for her), not to mention a lifetime of apologies.

    But it’s harmless. No one gets hurt.

    ‘Doesn’t it worry you?’ my friends ask, ‘that you forget everything. Aren’t you scared that you’ll forget something really important one day?’

    Forgetting things doesn’t scare me. It annoys me. It frustrates me, and I find it damnedably inconvenient. But it doesn’t scare me.

    But I am a bit worried about when I’m dead. I’ll forget, then, that I was ever alive… and that scares me.

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  4. The Seven Deadly Sins of a 21st Century Parent.

    Sloth – a dim and distant memory. When all morning was spent in bed watching Richard and Judy on TV, and she only crawled out of the duvet to fetch tea, biscuits, lunch.

    Lust – has all but vanished. It hides in damp, dark corners, ready to sneak out when no-ones looking. It briefly leers at the cute guy on the checkout; ten years younger than she is, smiling and talking to her, then sinks down out of sight.

    Pride – she juggles work, kids, pets, partner. Everyone thinks she’s Supermum and so she has to be. She’s up making breakfast and packed lunches before anyone else, is last to bed, ironing in front of the repeat of Eastenders. They don’t see that inside, she’s sinking beneath the weight of everyday life.

    Gluttony – her only comfort is found at the bottom of a packet of chocolate éclairs or underneath a chocolate gateaux. For a while it stuffs the emptiness inside her, until she looks in the mirror and sees it waving in her face.

    Anger – her slow simmering erupts over the dinner table when noses are turned up at last week’s favourite food, when computers claim more attention than she does. They don’t understand, she’s never reacted like this before.

    Guilt – over the yelling and screaming, the kids’ tears, missing sports day, not ironing their school shirts, not walking the dog in the rain, burning the casserole, feeding the kids pizza, taking a soak in the bath, and saying no because she’s so tired.

    Betrayal – she’s had enough. She’s finally had enough of looking after everyone else, of talking to brick walls, of washing dirty socks, so she brands herself as a betrayer of family values and leaves, taking all her sins with her.

  5. How to Solve a Problem like Maria

    Paulus married Maria, the butcher’s widow, on a rainy day last December. It was a small affair. Although the villagers were respectful of his profession many were still reeling from the butcher’s death at thirty-two. He was just too young for a heart-attack, although Paulus had signed the death certificate himself.

    Maria had married the butcher on a sunny day last May. It was a grand affair. The villagers adored the butcher for his generosity and unrelenting good fortune in times of famine. Women had deprived their families of breakfast eggs for months in order to present the happy couple with a cake. Men had gone willingly without ale for a week.

    On the night of their honeymoon, the butcher urged his young wife to consider starting a family. Maria had pulled the candlewick bedspread over her shoulders and looked at him with such child-like intensity he felt shamed.

    The next day Maria cut her hair short, locked away her treasured make-up and took to wearing ankle socks. The butcher came back that evening to no supper, and finding her curled up on the sofa like a stray kitten, he gasped, ‘My god Maria!’

    When Paulus arrived and had thoroughly examined Maria in the privacy of the marital bed, he reassured the butcher that such ‘regressions into childhood were not uncommon in young brides’ and, ‘that Maria needed daily counselling sessions with him to resolve the matter.’ The butcher wept as Paulus shrugged and said, ‘six months should do it.’

    Maria improved. She discarded the socks, glossed her lips, and her cheeks took on a healthy glow. She began to cook the butcher the hearty meals she had promised before they were married, and at night she would whisper ‘soon, my love, soon.’

  6. I’d past my teens uneventfully and was now touching fifty, well more than touching to be honest, embracing. I had still not made my name, achieved anything that would prevent me from fading into obscurity. Too late now to be a movie star, never had the looks for it anyway.

    It had to be something dramatic, that no one else had done; would inspire my grandchildren to say proudly – that was my grandmother. Then one morning in December I woke, knowing exactly what it was I must do.

    I would walk backwards up a downward moving staircase on the underground at high speed. I was excited at the prospect and planned the event meticulously.

    Clothes were important, having dismissed my initial thought of nudity. I purchased a bright red two piece swimsuit, undoubtedly conspicuous, certain to stand out. I chose the rush-hour on a Friday at 5.30 pm. I stood shivering, standing well back, watching the moving stream of liquorice allsorts, some walking down, others standing, all being carried closer towards me. I turned my back on them, took a deep breath and launched myself into their midst. I felt elated, on my way to fame at last. The effect on my audience was electric. The final backward leap from the moving escalator had to be carefully gauged. The number of wounded was few, unfortunately added to by dazed onlookers tripping over these prone bodies as they alighted.

    I walked away triumphant, dived straight into a public toilet and dressed for the office. I reported to the police immediately; they were already searching for me. It was obviously important that I should give my name, or the whole achievement would be pointless. I’ve already written to the Guinness Book of Records who have assured me that it is a first.

  7. The hills are alive beneath my running feet. The sound of the music is my breath and the breeze, a wordless humming and a drumming with my heart. A crescending susurration that fills my head and patterns the beat of my footsteps and the whims of the wind. The hills are alive. I feel it when I nimble-pick with balletic steps across the tussocks, feel it again in the echoing bounce of the peat on a long dark strait.

    Pools glimmer black on black; one foot snags, cold water fingers grip; I stagger and right. The hills are alive, with more than just the stumbling of sheep, the pipe and call of curlews, the steaming wall of cows across the path. The mist is their smoke screen.

    Through which the Pike looms, a stone spectre, poking the sky, a monument to thousands who once lived, then fought and died.

    The hills are alive. Time means nothing; this is not a life that depends on time. Not timeless but all-time. I reach the summit and stand while the world spins; throat and chest burning as cold air pours in; the encircling horizon dizzying my eyes. The hills close in to greet me, binding my soaking feet, coiling around cold-pimpled calves, caressing red-raw knees; stilling my heart and wrapping a false friend comforter over my sweat chilled skin.

    I am stone, rock and boulder, heavy-rooted. Weathered, beaten, touched by the tap of passing fingers, the laying on of palms, a resting post for walkers, mourners, lovers; offered libations, coins and rag ribbons. I am eternal, immovable, elemental forever.

    A gust of wind buffets me, taunts me; a last chance, it releases me, “Go”. My heart thrums again. I spin, and around me the world is still. I am alive, and I run.

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  9. Nellie chews on the inside of her cheek. I should never have brought the stupid poem up.
    "I really don`t blame you for laughing. Let`s forget all about it." Oprah places two cups of tea on our table and a plate of chocolate biscuits. "TaIk about having the luck of the Irish. I found these in the kitchen. Enjoy," she smiles.
    "Great, my throat`s parched," I say, dunking into the milky warmth. Nellie looks down at her cup for a long time. I just sit. Around me, in the huge square room people are tucking into peaches and ice cream. I like the brightness here, unlike my flat which seems cold, even when the heat is on. Anne always had home decorating issues when she was alive. Changing and rearranging became a peculiar pastime for her. She would take things from the hotel she worked in: soaps, towels, small packets of shortbread.
    "You want to watch somebody doesn`t blow the whistle on you," I warned. But they never did. I want to tell Nellie the story about how, one Saturday afternoon, Anne smuggled me into the blissful bridal suite for three whole hours. Silk sheets,feathered pillows, heavy plum brocade curtains, a telephone next to the bed with a gold mouthpiece and the graceful white carpet.

    The tables and chairs here are regimentally arranged, like a school dinner hall. There are no pictures on the cream walls but there is a notice board that advertises items people are selling or giving away. Nobody reads it. We`re here for two things: food and company. It`s November, dark at four and that familiar, forgotten greyness that starves the sky, melts my mind to sleep. Finally she lifts her eyes. "I wasn`t laughing at the poem Joe. It was a surprise, that`s all."

  10. It was so long ago, I don’t really remember. Of course, there are clear fragments, but I was a child and only remember the childish things. The only truly vivid image I have is this: we are cycling down a bright lane, all in our best white clothes, singing. We must have been going to somewhere and coming from somewhere, but I forget everything but the motion and the singing.

    I have read books – probably fewer than I should have – and seen the movies and the documentaries. I know now that outside our sheltered world in the mountains, Europe was crumbling, its cracks spreading across the world, but I honestly don’t remember any of that. I vaguely recall that once there were tears and shouts on the other side of a bedroom door. A few close friends suddenly stopped calling. But my young curiosity never outlived the moment. So now, when I look back – as I seem to be doing more and more – it is not to the shadow of the planes or the bark of distant guns, though I know that these must have been there, but to the leaf patterns in the afternoon sun, the ripple of pure white cotton, and voices joined in childish song.

    Even that final journey is now nothing more than another pleasant jaunt. I was probably fractious and tiresome, but I have no recollection of suffering, for this, too, melds in my memory with that one afternoon. Indeed sometimes, as I slip into sleep, I fancy that I see us all together again, crossing the mountains, high on the ridges. We are not struggling, empty stomached, against the cold. Instead, we are cycling, our bicycles flying through the crisp mountain air. Our white clothes gleam and spread like wings. And we are singing.

  11. My grandparents were part of the land army. As a baker-cum-cobbler, my Grandfather Claude (not that I remember him in the slightest, his having died when I was two) was excluded from National Service. He did his bit nonetheless, buying as many war bonds as he could and volunteering in the home guard between deliveries and baking.

    My grandmother (I was never told her name) and my eleven-year old father and his thirteen year old brother set-to digging up the acre of gardens in the big ‘dig for England’ push. What I later knew as the perfect, bowling-green lawn at the front of the house was a field of potatoes in those days and the back lawns, running from the house to the canal embankment, were planted with cabbages.

    This was all twenty years before my time so the most I know about it was the scattered snippets of information my father let slip in unguarded moments. He never talked about his parents if he could help it. I have a few tales from his childhood; the beatings he received for perceived misdemeanours but not a single memory of his mother did he impart, though she was alive into his thirties.

    Was it so terrible a childhood? The war must have touched him even in that backwater Worcestershire village. I remember the stumps where ironwork had been removed for the war effort and never replaced and the memorial made from scraps of a tank cut and welded so that the turret made a cross. He did his National Service in 1946 and fought guerrillas in Malasia, returning in 1951 to marry the woman who’d sent a greeting to a random soldier.

    Elizabeth, my mother, died when I was fourteen. I don’t have any tales about her for my children either.

  12. Incredibly, Google Images returns fewer hits for "Julie Andrews naked" (25,300) than for "Mother Theresa naked" (71,800), even though Julie once went starkers in a movie while Mother Theresa hasn't appeared in the buff since her mother bathed her bottom when she was 3 years old. Being a closet Julie Andrews fan I consider this an outrageous injustice, particularly as none of the pages I viewed actually shows her strutting her stuff, so I downloaded some jpegs of Julie looking this way and that, smiling, frowning, singing, laughing and making weird faces, and began pasting her head onto the bodies in photos downloaded from porn sites. Pleased with the results, I set up

    Within a week I was getting over a thousand visits a day. Feedback was mostly positive, but a few complained that it was obvious the heads didn't belong on the bodies. So, I advertised for Julie Andrews look-alikes. I got a barrow-load of replies, some of whom looked just like the real thing, at various ages. An amazing seventeen of these agreed to pose naked for the web site, nine of whom I had sex with, in one form or another (including a threesome with a twenty-something and fifty-something Julie at the same time, singing Climb Ev'ry Mountain). The sex act shots are available on the site to pre-paid members, and that alone is raking in enough for me to give up the frigging day job.

    This morning I searched on "Sarah Salway naked", 378 hits, only one of which actually shows her completely naked, and "Lynne Rees naked", 8,030 hits (go figure), some of which are strangely interesting, but none even topless. If you are reading this, and you are a Sarah Salway or Lynne Rees look-alike, please email me now at:

    Thank you.

    Bob Jacobs

  13. ‘So, Ms White, when did you start to have these paranoid feelings that someone was trying to kill you?’

    ‘I think it all started when my father got married again. I never really got on with his new wife …’

    ‘Yes … we often find that in transitional families, some of the children of the original nuclear family feel somewhat marginalised. But fantasising about your stepmother trying to kill you is a little extreme!’

    ‘It wasn’t a fantasy, she was trying to kill me. That’s why I moved out.’

    ‘Tell me about that. You went to live with some friends?’

    ‘Yes. They had a house-share in the forest. They work really hard, so they said I could live with them if I did the housework.’

    ‘And they had a few problems as well didn’t they. Let me see. Rhinitis, narcolepsy, depression … ’

    ‘Yes, but at least I felt safe from my stepmother while I was there.’

    ‘Until the apple incident …’

    ‘Yes. As I said, I thought I was safe there; even when the others were all out at work. Which wasn’t often. But, on this particular day they’d all taken their medication and left. That’s when the doorbell rang.’

    ‘What happened next?’

    ‘I went and opened the door and looked outside. There was nobody there, but on the doorstep there was a huge basket of apples.’

    ‘And you didn’t find that odd?’

    ‘Well a bit. Anyway, I picked up the loveliest juiciest looking apple and took a bite.’

    ‘I know this next bit is painful.’

    ‘Well, I thought I was going to choke to death, until the paramedics arrived …’

    ‘Yes – that was how you met your husband. I remember now!’

    ‘He did the Heimlich manoeuvre, out came the poisoned apple …’

    ‘And you lived happily ever after!’

  14. I was born an unreliable narrator. That’s what comes of being the youngest of seven: you have to get yourself noticed somehow.

    It started early. It’s amazing how gullible adults are: nothing but amused delight when you look them in the eye with your baby blue gaze and say something you know quite well is verboten. You’re even allowed to join in the laughter, to repeat it several more times, until someone says: “Don’t encourage her: she thinks it’s funny.” Because it is, dummy. Dead funny.

    Anyway, I had a way with words, and I cultivated it. The baby blue eyes helped too. You wouldn’t believe the trouble I got the others into. The stories I told visitors. The surprise and shock and sympathy I could conjure at the drop of a hat.

    But the biggest joke was representing myself as the little innocent. The sweet, blonde, lisping one at the end of the line, glancing up shyly. Of course no one asked my doting older brothers and sisters what I was really like. No one wanted to know: they wouldn’t, would they? No one wants their preconceptions shattered. And I was the piece de resistance, the coup de grace. I sold the act, and they knew it.

    Maria was the only one who saw through me. I knew it, and she knew I knew it. I don’t know why she kept stumm. But she wasn’t stupid, Maria. She knew which side her bread was buttered on, and shopping dear little Greta to her fond papa wasn’t going to get her on the fast track out of the nunnery. Besides, nun or no nun, she knew how to bend the truth to her own advantage too. Look what liberties she took, selling our story, all those years down the line.

  15. The film industry is today mourning the loss of writer/director, Stanley Welsh, who died at his Malibu home following a long illness, aged 54. Best known for his controversial views on the afterlife, he was troubled throughout his career by emotional difficulties. There was widespread speculation that his illnesses provided him with the inspiration for his most successful films.

    Welsh, unable to attend the Cannes Film Festival this year, managed to scoop Best Director Award. A-list actor and writer, Josh Caplin, in an interview with ABC this morning said:

    ‘I know I speak for the whole American film industry when I say that Stanley was one hot director. We’re shocked. You can never prepare yourself for something like this. A helluva lotta folks’ll be sad this morning. We hope he has closure. God bless.’

    Welsh’s agent has released an announcement detailing a celebrity memorial screening of his most popular film, The Laminator. This film depicts a lonely aspiring writer and researcher, Charles Lawson (played by Oscar Jones), who exhibits obsessive personality traits - including a stationery fetish - which is exacerbated by the tragic death of his family. Welsh denied rumours that in this project, he played out his own fantasies, insisting that Lawson’s strange behavioural patterns in no way mirrored his own. The Lawson character collects corpses and bizarrely prepares them for lamination. He then keeps the preserved bodies in a gallery, adopting them as ‘ancestors’. Despite its macabre content, this is considered to be Welsh’s best work.

    Welsh was a notoriously private man and since 1984, rarely attended glitzy Hollywood parties. Famously, news of his father’s death was delivered to him whilst he watched the premiere of Terminator and his public breakdown was widely reported.

    His housemaid, Shirley Black, claimed that his last words were ‘I’ll be back’.

  16. Dear Liesl,

    The diagnosis you ask for undoubtedly will cause
    more concern since you will demand a prescription:
    physically you were well, too well
    perhaps, proud of your newly nubile physique
    and too willing to flaunt it, and then suffering
    delusional guilt afterwards and wanting to blame
    your father for controlling you and forcing you to lose
    control in retaliation.

    You blame him for your own unhappiness, but
    isn't it typical for an adolescent to do so?
    Your accusations were damning, and the fact
    that you willingly spread it to defame him, so that
    even your escape became difficult, these are all things
    that have plagued you. You began songwriting
    in retaliation.

    You wanted him to be miserable because you
    were jealous of any woman who came into his life
    who might usurp your mother who had passed away.
    You hated the Baroness, you hoped that by your own
    behavior, you could corrupt Maria as well. To describe
    Maria as your cohort betrayed by everyone--laughable
    really. To you, Maria wasn't glamorous, a low-class
    peasant who didn't fit in your description as a threat,
    and you were sure your father would never
    fall in love with her. The betrayal was when he did
    and she reciprocated.

    Then you sold your article to Die Über Zeitung,
    began your career as songwriter by accusing
    your father as Nazi. Your album Unfavorite Things
    won countless awards for heartfelt honesty.
    He went on trial, was pronounced guilty.
    You created your own identity
    through lies about him.

    I fled to India. I learned
    how to forgive by being forgiven.

    My prescription:
    Write a song to him,
    to Maria, to all those you defamed.
    During your chemo treatments, make prayers
    for others who suffer as you do.
    May you have successful treatments.

    All the best,


  17. Waddya mean, you don't believe a word?
    You reckon this was all my fault!
    I was doing fine while I stayed with books and poetry.
    You're the librarian, you suggested I go for musical movies.

    I can't sing, man. Not that high. "Paint Your Wagon" I could have managed, that suits my range.
    But you don't have the CD.

    And I'm too limited when it comes to costumes. It must be six years since they closed down the drama group. Now all I got is a couple of togas, some British Victorian frocks, fifteen spears, a cop's helmet, five Stetsons, and a chinaman's hat. I had to use that as a shield when I made Mark Antony's oration two weeks ago. That got big applause.

    When you got nothing but a bunch of crazy people's left overs and the imagination of your audience, you got to get creative.
    So yesterday I recited the twenty line synopsis I'd knocked out, curtseyed and got the hell off stage.

    Did I look ridiculous in that outfit! I'm a size eighteen, for Chrissake!
    It's not that I mind doing broads. I kind of like the dressing up.
    My father never would let me do that. He said that's faggot stuff.

    He should have seen me ride right over those Valkyries last week. What's sissy about waving a bunch of spears around your head then bringing one down through your lover's skull?
    But I wish I'd never gotten into that high pitched singing.

    "Wandered lonely as a cloud."
    I pulled that off.
    It only took a cloak and a big hat. So we were indoors, and I only had one plastic daffodil. Who gives a shit.

    I just gotta find a way to keep this up.
    If I'm rumbled now they'll throw me outa' here.

  18. It is hardly ever like the movie.

    I mean take Rainman. We all remember the acting tour de force of Dustin Hoffman, as the autistic main character, Raymond. He had obviously studied people with autism and his speech patterns, behaviours and movements were pretty convincing.


    Raymond is depicted as an autistic savant, a person with quite severe autism who has a special talent, in his case numbers. To be fair, such people do exist, there is that young man who makes the most stunningly detailed drawings of buildings, for example. Yet he and his like are rare exceptions.

    The truth about autism is the child banging his head on the wall and no one understanding why.
    The child biting his arm until scarred for life.
    The child with his hands over his ears, screaming loudly to drown out the intolerable sounds of everyday living.
    The child who does not speak at all or cannot understand what is said to him.
    The child with an inner intelligence which he can not or will not express to the outside world.

    I’m generalising here, of course.

    I say child, but all these behaviours are seen in adults too. I also make the child masculine, though girls are also affected, albeit in lesser numbers.

    Rainman is just a story. We get tired of people asking if our teenager with severe autism has a special gift like Raymond. Whether he is good with numbers or a musical prodigy? Can he perhaps produce stunning artwork?

    The truth is he knows his numbers and can count to ten. He will play pre-programmed tunes on an electric keyboard, he scribbles. They are trying to teach him to write his name. That is the reality of life for him and many, many others.

    They are not like Rainman.

  19. The first note hangs in the air above a slowly beating drum. It is joined by a second note, then a third, then a whole orchestra full. Bows saw, mouths blow, sticks bang and bong, fingers ripple an arpeggio. Violins sing to flutes; flutes call to cellos; cellos growl at bassoons; bassoons boom at drums; drums bark at piccolos; piccolos squeak at trumpets; trumpets, defiant, trump. A harp undulates, mediates, emollient. The trombones drop a dissonant fart. Timpani strike in protest against the dominance of the tune-makers. Strings join together to raise the melody to power, driving it on, relentlessly smoothing over any dissent made by the percussion, brass or woodwind.

    The brass capitulate and blare a plangent harmony. The strings dip and soar in plaintive response. An oboe shrieks like a raptor over the contours of the music. A single clarinet takes flight, the raw air it inhabits in jarring contrast to the instrument's mellifluous tone. And then the cornet, jazz impulses quelled, constrained by bar lines and the conductor's imperative, offers a subdued fragment of tune, interrupted by violas buzzing, angry now, their ire infecting the cellos and basses, infuriating the French horns and tubas, enraging the drums and cymbals, decibels challenging decibels, mezzo forte, forte, fortissimo.

    Then like a spent lover the music settles down, diminuendo, with a reflective modulation. The strings sway back and forth, weaving a hammock of sound for the weary soul to rest. Woodwind sing a lullaby, breeze in the trees. The harp rises and falls, rocking glissandos. A soothing cello intones a resonant refrain, and a bow on a bass string draws out the final note, from a sonorous start slowly down to a whisper.

    And then the very best bit: that magical moment of silence before the crash of the applause.

  20. ‘I’m dead inside,’ I tell Candice.
    Candice is my counsellor but her cold attitude has never encouraged me to share my deepest thoughts.

    She picks at a sliver of hardened skin jutting out from the edge of a nail.
    It’s irritating her; it’s irritating me.

    ‘Quite dead, totally lacking in emotion,’ I add.
    ‘I understand,’ she says stifling a yawn.
    ‘I feel nothing,’ I say. ‘Nothing for anyone, anything.’
    Even my tutor criticises my writing for lacking emotion. ‘Show don’t tell,’ is her mantra but how do I show when I can’t feel?’

    This time Candice fails to stifle the yawn. She throws back her head and I see that her tongue is coated with an unhealthy grey shroud, her breath washes over me; it smells like a decaying rat. There’s something unsavoury about her. She smacks of ill health; maybe she is diseased, dying?

    She is particularly monosyllabic today. I am doing all the talking but I suppose the role of a counsellor is to listen. But I want some response, I want to move forward, I want the characters in my stories to experience life to the full.

    ‘Help me,’ I plead. ‘Help me release the demons that have robbed me of so much. I am trapped in the past, don’t you understand?’

    But Candice stares through me as though I’m not here. It’s uncanny. Her eyes are fixed on something at the back of the room. She leans towards me, cups my cheeks in her hands and strokes them with such a gentle touch that I sense she is experiencing something really deep. But her face has no expression; her eyes don’t meet mine.

    ‘There there, my little one,’ she whispers. ‘You’re safe with me.’

    ‘But I’m dead,’ I scream.

    ‘Me, too,’ she says. ‘I’m dead, too.’

  21. I know that all you wanted to do was to forget. I know that. You tried to tell me at the time. Your kind eyes, so full of the evil sights of war, tried to tell me, because you couldn't speak. Your gentle hands shook so much you were unable to write. Why couldn't you tell them the truth?

    And your legs. Shattered in places, and rebuilt. But they were never the same, were they? You could move about slowly on good days, but only indoors. Never outside. You could barely stand on bad days. You had far more bad days than good.

    I waited for you throughout the war. I never gave up hope. And then they found you, your tortured body, ruined. That's when you came back; when you were ruined. Why couldn't you tell them the truth?

    We had a chance of getting help. One chance. They were going to pay us extra money, each week, each year. It would have helped. We could have managed with the extra money. We needn't have been so poor, so desperate. They came to assess you. One chance. They needed to know if you could manage. They wanted to see what you could or couldn't do. Why couldn't you tell them the truth?

    You decided to have a 'good day'. You bore the pain and showed them how well you could walk on a good day. You steadied your hand, and showed them how you could write on a good day. You even managed some sounds - sounds that I've never heard since. Steps you've never taken since. Writing you've never managed since. You were too proud to tell them the truth.

    Your one, final good day. The day they came to assess.

    From: Yvonne Moxley

  22. It was the briefest of encounters.

    She was between meetings. Between the one she'd just chaired in Glasgow this morning and the one she was due to chair in Brussels tomorrow. She had peaked and was well and truly in her afternoon 'trough.' She needed a caffeine hit - now. She glanced at her watch. Bugger it, she'd snatch a ten minute window, catch the next connection.

    The railway station cafe was busy. The young girl serving was very slow. She kept stopping and starting like some bloody commuter train, all the time telling her colleague about last night down the pub. Pleeee-ease, as if we're at all interested in what a snivelling teenager get up to down at the Dog and Duck in God-knows-where. Then again, at least SHE had some sort of love life.

    She had everything that money could buy but not the man to share it with. God knows she'd tried. She'd treated it as her number one priority these last six months, her body clock was ticking, tick-tock, tick-tock ... she was fast approaching her biological stop.

    She'd done the lot. Computer dating, speed dating, dating on the net. Net result? Zilch. Zero. Not a snowball's chance in hell. They'd either been under-achievers, has-beens, never-has-beens and just plain old - in-your-dreams-sunshine.

    She ordered, tossed some coins on the counter, grabbed her latte and turned to search for a table. THAT'S WHEN HER TUMMY FLIPPED AND HER WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN FOREVER. It was the only available seat. She sat. He smiled at her. She smiled at him. When they both reached for the sugar at the same time and their fingers brushed, it was - wow. When his velvet voice uttered 'after you' she was hooked. Hooked, lined and sinkered. Yes sireeee.

    Her window was up.

    Louise Laurie

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  24. It was never like the movie - Maria all sugar and spice and tra la la! Hell’s bells, she wasn’t like that. And that stuff about wanting to become a nun? Puh-lease. Her parents were at their wits’ end with all her slutty behaviour and they were the ones trying to force her into the convent. Never in their wildest dreams could they have hoped for a solution like my father, the oaf.

    The worst part was having to keep my mouth shut about it all after Maria caught Rolfe and me having a roll in the hay one afternoon. Silly cow said she was going to tell my father but as soon as I mentioned her little secret she shut up and I could tell we had an agreement. After that she never took her beady little eyes off me and Rolfe’s interest soon flagged - the only part of him capable of flagging.

    Of course you don’t know the real ending. Yes, we fled to Switzerland and even gave a few ghastly singing performances there. Until papa fell though a trap door in a stage. Von Trapp through a trap! Ha ha! I wasn’t sad. The lust-mad fool deserved it. Turns out that Maria’s little secret, her Nazi boyfriend Fritz, was a stagehand at the theatre. Maria got the house, the land, everything except us. The youngest wound up in an orphanage and as us older children went our separate ways.

    I’ve stayed in theatre so-to-speak, earning my money as a stripper who can be called upon for a few extra favours. Funnily enough, one of my most popular routines is a number where I start off wearing a dirndl and singing “sixteen going on seventeen” but, as with everything in real life, there’s nothing much left by the end.

  25. Sarah Panter’s application was full of good grades and earnest intentions, and it was no mere act. She was a blonde, blue-eyed German girl who wanted to study Jewish culture in Israel.
    When she came to the States as an au pair for my kids, the only person I knew with a daughter her age, a possible friend, was Marlene Goldman. Her daughter Dana was also smart and wanted to study Jewish culture in Israel.
    Neither of their mothers would let them go. They were both plagued by the same vision of their daughters in a bus, pizzeria, or disco with a bomb-rigged Palestinian of similar age.
    Sarah was a good au pair. She converted my youngest son from violent video games to gentle play with stuffed animals competing on teams. They devised elaborate scenarios for Froggie, the well-loved hero of the group, to save the others.
    At night, she stayed up late watching anything about World War II on the History Channel.
    “I watched another documentation,” she would tell me the next morning, an edge of devastation in her voice.
    When I took her to Washington, D.C., the only attraction she wanted to see was the Holocaust Museum. The tour began in an elevator fashioned like a boxcar, each tourist issued the passport of a concentration camp resident. At the end of the heartrending tour is a wall of names. You can look up your assumed identity and find out if they survived.
    Dana Goldman invited Sarah along on a weekend hike with friends. She arrived home with her fair face flushed fiery red with wonder.
    “She looks really Jewish,” she reported with intense gravity. “She has the brown eyes and the dark curly hair. I have never seen a real Jew before. We don’t have any in Germany.”

  26. Maria was Bridget's first. Of course, she had originally pioneered her revolutionary surgical procedure for herself and her husband Brian. But it seemed safest to test it on other people first. Desperate, hairy Maria and her bald husband Tim were the obvious choice.

    Bridget's 'Express Body Parts Exchange' was an overnight success. The public were wowed by her vigorous marketing campaign, which demonstrated the stunning transformations Maria and Tim had undergone.

    The financial implications were phenomenal. Thousands took up the treatment within weeks; Bridget was raking it in. But soon she ran into a problem. Not all desired body changes were complementary. Many bald men were happy to exchange the skin on their smooth scalps with women who suffered from excess facial hair. Lips were also a fairly common equitable swap. But people weren't so inclined to exchange their perfect ears for the less than perfect ones Bridget's clients possessed.

    Around this time, the muggings started. Eyebrows, teeth, noses, fingers, hips and all sorts of other body parts were violently snatched from victims ambushed on the street. The police were powerless. How the perpetrators had obtained their knowledge of the top-secret process was a mystery. The muggers were also careful not to take whole faces or distinguishing body parts.

    Meanwhile, Bridget's business flourished. She and Brian had decided against treatment themselves though. This was partly due to the unpublicised medium-term side-effects of muscle disintegration observed in rats and other animals they had experimented on. But Bridget also didn't see the need. Many mugging victims had already been left looking like freaks with numerous body parts missing. With disfigurement on the cards for her clients too, it seemed to Bridget that soon the whole of society would resemble a circus and she, with her three nipples, would be the mighty ringmaster.

    Sarah James

  27. To wallow in utter forgetfulness, its my only escape from a dubious inheritance. “Oh, you're one of them.” is the usual statement when I meet people. I just can't take it any more. I am one of them, I want to shout it out loud, wear a t-shirt with my name in bold letters across the front. All I want is confusion and emptiness.

    Sweet confusion hold me in your cold, cold arms.
    Take my mind away from here, I don’t want to have a memory.
    Sweet confusion lose me in your grasp.

    I walk down a street, waiting for something to save me. Where is my prince charming, my knight in shining armour. Head down I walk, going no where, my Father has disowned me. I told everything, the secret money, hidden friends, the truth behind the story. Now even Maria spits at me in the street, but then she always was a bit cheap.

    It starts to warm up, and I'm walking up Hill Street. Lost in thought I don't even think about where I am. I think instead about my life, I stop, I am in at the top of the street now, I look out across town, the sun has come out and everything glistens with the recent rain. Really it doesn't look to bad from up here. I lean against a wall and just lose myself in the view. Let yourself fly away, let yourself be alive to the world about you, everything else pales away and I am at peace.

    Later back in my flat I take stock of things. Outside the sun is shining, I can see the hills in the distance. I put on my walking boots and head for them. For some reason I hum a tune as I leave.

    Jim Barron

  28. All I want to do is forget.

    There are people who are in accidents who can no longer remember who they are. Sometimes they wake up one day and have no memory of what came before. I wish for that, yearn for that.

    But when you want something that badly, it never comes. I wish I could forget everything, I wish I could wake up one morning with my mind a blank slate. But wishing won’t get you anywhere.

    For a while, I tried causing accidents that would result in a head injury. But they never went as planned. Like the time I tried falling down the stairs; all I did was fracture an arm and a collarbone. Or the time when I walked into on coming traffic; that just resulted in a ten car pile up.

    I no longer try to place myself in harmful situations; instead I hold out hope that someone has it in for me. I can picture him: a tall man with white blonde hair, startling blue eyes and a hard fist. Sometimes I run home, pretending that he is chasing me, hunting me.

    Maria says I am a fatalist. She says that I am Death’s Daughter and I wish this was the case. I wish that I came from his loins or one of his unholy unions. I’m so sick of nuns, of religion, of candles and the smell of beeswax.

    When we found him, that sweet baby, it seemed he would make the world better. But then I dropped him, Him, the second coming. It had been foretold and we knew what he was, what power he had.

    And I remember the blood, I remember the screaming. I remember Mary, the mythical mother, screaming for her child.

    I left the nunnery that day.

    Jamieson Wolf

  29. I am past sixty, a studious, lover of books and Nature, dwelling in a small cottage amidst Sylvan atmosphere and replete with greenery and a little far off thick wooded forests, on a hill on the silent, Prosperous area of Nilgris,in India, I don’t apply myself to much of fiction, a little less to Romance. Yet more and more ingrained an absorbing passion for creativity, suddenly I switched on a T.V channel,a humorous show,on semi nude dress and focussing upon,the most modern
    theme of nudity.It is a most, vital absorbing, necessity for mankind (which means both and
    Woman) to cover up their sense of shame, to cover their private parts, to lead a decent life,
    to lead a disciplined life in consonance with the scriptures and dictum ordained by God. Opposite
    To my living place,in a flat,the parent always chides the daughter for not being properly
    dressed up. The mother should pay utmost attention and tutor the ward in the civil code of
    dress. The sense of propriety of shame and nakedness should be inborn.
    My grandmother always insisted that a home should have a tidy kitchen with food and some food
    should be for charity, on a daily basis, the woman, the head of the family should instil a sense of
    piety in the minds of Children, and table decorum; and she would play classical music for music is
    essential for a divine and orderly life. I love to play the divine songs of my Guru, my mentor for these celestial songs are for healing and meditation and they contribute to your creativity.
    Finally one more significant fact about housekeeping, in the absence of the head of the house,
    the house goes to dogs, everything in a quandary,pell-mell.

  30. The man cradled the beer and stretched his legs out by the fire. The children gazed up at him, stiff with expectation. "Alright, I'll tell you again. It wasn't like the rhyme, well actually it was, but there was alot more to it, of course.

    Diddle was a short, stocky wizard and a fraud. Little talent; lots of drama. He had the purple hat with the stars on, the long flowing robes and the black wand to hide the fact.

    It all began with the cat and the fiddle. The cat was Diddle's familiar and he got himself into a fix. Thought he could con the fisherman over his accounts. Well Bill ain't particularly bright, but his daughter has a real head for figures and no soft spot for kitties. It was a nasty situation.

    So Diddle, he decides to employ magic. A bet is laid that if he can get a cow to jump over the moon the debt is wiped, if he can't they pay double. It's accepted.

    We gather at the Inn. Diddle, in one of his better moments, summons the moon into his crystal ball. The night goes dark as he does it (a little illusion) so everyone is duly impressed.

    So far so good. It is the point at which Diddle starts to lift the cow over the ball that the spell back fires, spreads too wide and hits the dresser bringing the dishes to life. Dog, the landlord, is tickled by this scenario and howls with laughter for half the night. He growls threateningly for the other half when someone points out that his finest serving dish has legged it with a silver spoon.

    So there you have it, the real version. Now leave me in peace to enjoy my, now, lukewarm beer."


  31. “I’m sorry. I can’t understand you. Lisa please, take a breath and try to talk slower.” I checked the volume on my phone but it was turned all the way up. All I could hear was garble, garble, garble, sob. “Lisa, let me meet you somewhere. Where are you?”
    It was starting to rain and since early this morning the temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees. The roads were icing up and I was certain my folks would have a fit if I went out but this was an emergency. I listened for a couple of minutes.
    “Then I’ll come there. What do you mean no don’t? He can’t keep you locked in your room. I’ll just come and get you out of there.”
    She seemed to be getting things a bit under control.
    “What do you mean you’ll be fine?” I paused. She always had a flair for the dramatic, a tendency to blow things a bit out of proportion. Maybe she had just over exaggerated what had been going on, she seemed to be much calmer than the situation seemed to warrant.
    “I still think you should let me ... ” She sighed. “Okay, well if you’re tired. I know. No, its okay, I need to finish studying for the calculus exam anyway. Yea ok, I’ll see you Monday.”
    I hung up the phone feeling very uneasy. There had never been any indication of any sort of abuse situation before. What if I went over there or called the police and it made it worse or if nothing had really happened. She was probably just overreacting.
    Monday morning Lisa wasn’t in homeroom. Everyone kept giving me sideways glances. Finally in first period someone came up and told me. Lisa’s dad had beaten her to death Saturday night.

  32. He barged right in through the door without knocking. I hurriedly grabbed at the duvet attempting to cover my breasts.
    “Don’t mind on my account,” he said, grinning. “I wouldn’t mind more than a look really, but I suppose that’s out of the question?”
    I hurled a pillow at him, and missed as he ducked out of the door again.
    “Relax, he called from the kitchen, we’re all friends here aren’t we? I’ll put the kettle on.”
    We were friends - that was the problem. Just friends. I wished Gareth and Sarah had never suggested him moving in when a room became vacant. That way I could have continued as before, admiring him from the safety of my perfect daydream.
    I pulled my dressing gown on, checked in the mirror for smudged make-up and quickly brushed my teeth before joining him.
    He put two cups of steaming tea on the table, and sat close to me on the bench. It felt strange – different somehow – more intimate than usual. There was a perfectly good seat on the opposite side of the table. He was sitting so close I could feel his breath on the side of my cheek. I looked straight ahead so I wouldn’t have to look him in the face.
    “Thanks for the tea,” I said.
    “It‘s the least I could do in the circumstances.” He seemed to be leaning still closer.
    “What circumstances would those be?” My curiosity was aroused. There was a moment’s silence before he replied.
    “Well, now I’ve see you naked you’re just going to have to sleep with me aren’t you?”
    He brushed his hand slowly across my cheek until it rested on my chin, and turned it gently towards him so our eyes met.
    I smiled and replied “I thought you’d never ask.”

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  34. I remember at 12 years old I first saw documentaries about the Holocaust. It was around the Festive bright lights and Santa Claus time in Oxford Street when in between contemplating the deluxe Bloomsfield mince pies and single cream, I’d become aware of such atrocities. Works of fiction, I thought, at the time. Near enough made me retch, stultified my senses, though. Mince pies or not, my appetite went for a short while.

    ‘Putrification’ and ‘insanity’ are words which best described my thoughts as I failed to comprehend how a nation could fall victim to propaganda and be swayed by the vision of one man who believed in an Aryan race of blond and blue eyed ‘angels’ – the perfect master race, the sole race to survive all, the ultimate in beauty and intelligence, the race, in Greek Mythology, which would drive the Olympic helm to the winning post. THE RACE.

    Since then, I’ve had a couple of nightmares of empty houses and streets as in ‘The Day of the Triffids’ and of those where I’d go from one room to the next to escape soldiers searching the first floor then the ground and all over again.

    I can never feel the way those who’ve experienced it felt but current news stories remind us of our inhumanity, our selfishness, our pride, our arrogance and the futility of our actions.

    Opens up a huge ‘can of worms’:-

    ‘Have we become so inconsiderate that we no longer know each other?’
    ‘Are we that selfish?’
    ‘Are we that insane?

    Yes, unfortunately.

    ‘Have we learnt anything from previous wars?’

    ‘Will we ever learn?’

    A resounding NO!

    Unless we believe in God.

    Do we believe in God?

    It appears not.

    Why not?

    Our history says otherwise.

    And our future?

    Who knows. I’m not my father’s daughter.


  35. Childhood memories cut deepest, resolutely simmering with anger and contempt far longer than those borne of adult existence.

    Sister Agnes, my year 5 teacher, was an evil bitch.

    By no means is this an inflammatory, emotion fuelled pique aimed at female ambassadors of the blessed cloth. Indeed, neither is it a burly sideswipe aimed towards our heavily creaking educational infrastructure. My statement is merely a cold, hard statement of fact.

    Call me old fashioned, but spending an entire academic year living in fear for your tormented, mortal soul cannot be an enthralling outlook on life for a rapidly developing mind, requiring intensively directional nurturing. Chained to the daily, lunacy driven ranting of a witch masquerading as teacher of the holy order was a shining example of understanding organisational brain death. Recollecting those years is painful, despite the passage of decades.

    Our curriculum has lurched from one violent, brimstone and fire breathing extreme to another - a reality in which even teachers raising their voice potentially constitutes bullying or harassment.

    How many outraged, indignant parents would call for heads to roll in the event of their impressionable offspring bursting forth from class, distraught and inconsolable, screaming that God has deemed them sinners, condemning them to eternal furnaces (unless they repent, embracing God’s wishes, spreading gospels of unconditional love)? Can you imagine the almighty blue, fuckety-fuck storm that would cause nowadays?

    Then there’s the beatings. Usually administered using a clenched fist with a protruding, emerald mounted ‘holy eternity band’ as the weapon of choice. Should the deeply penetrating ring fail, there was always a rigid ruler, metre stick or wooden blackboard eraser to hand. Our bruises were badges of honour!

    Still, it was all in the name of God’s unremitting, unquenchable love for us.

    Sometimes I just wish the nightmares would subside.

  36. Drama Queen Weekly is pleased to preview our interview with Kitty Norwood, best-selling author of IngeNOW!: Embrace your Inner Juliet, without Having to Kill Yourself.

    Were you ever an ingenue?

    Are you kidding, sweetcheeks? Directors had, um, bigger plans for me. “Meaty parts for a meaty girl,” one said. Kebab?

    No thanks, I had a big breakfast.

    Suit yourself doll. Ingenues … ha! Before I was seventeen, I’d played Mother Superior in The Sound of Music, Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret and Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank. My high school drama teacher had a thing for Nazis, didn’t he? Turns out he had a thing for my little brother, but that’s another story. Ha!

    What about theatre school?

    Well, I’d dropped some weight (nothing Hollywood drastic) and auditioned for younger roles, but ended up more Nurse than Juliet. I made an amazing Winnie in Happy Days, though. Don’t matter how big your ass is when it’s buried, right?

    That production got you into the Actors’ Studio, didn’t it?

    Well, that and a couple private auditions, you know what I mean? Ha! Lotta good that did … Shelly Winters (bless her) was there then too, and everybody knows that story.

    Who are your role models?

    I love ‘em all … kaiser, cloverleaf, crescent, or bacon. And then there’s my favorite … the roll in the hay. HA!

    Honestly, sweetie? I look up to those ladies (and some men too!) of all ages, who send me letters and photos, telling me how happy they’ve become in their own gloriously voluminous skin.

    What’s next?

    We’re working on a new project, Quit Whingein’, Start Bingein’ … A Curvy Woman’s Guide to Great Health and Greater Sex. Hey, I’m thirsty. Can we grab a milkshake?

    Read the full interview in the next month’s edition of DQG.

  37. Camp I

    On the bus, women carry bags of shopping or college books. They dangle their shoes from their feet, pout lips and talk about the rain, non-stop since Thursday. Tourists wait for the final stop.

    They carry their rucksacks, their zloty, pay their entrance fee. At the main gates, they read the lettering: ARBEIT MACHT FREI. These could be the gates to a school, a factory, hospital, barracks, car park. Black metal gates with the words: WORK MAKES YOU FREE.

    Only there are wires fastened to concrete posts, wooden signs reading HALT! The guide book says: “To prevent prisoner escapes, the SS surrounded the camp with a double row of electrified barbed wire fencing.”

    Inside, rows of blocks with numbered doors. Block 4: Extermination. Block 5: Crimes against Humanity. Block 10: Medical experiments were carried out here (the block is not available to visitors.)

    Tourists walk from room to room, from door to door. They see stolen suitcases, spectacles, prayer shawls, shoes, combs, and stacks of greying hair. Also, empty canisters of Zyklon B.

    In Block 11, The Death Block, they stare at standing cells, try to imagine four naked men in these small bricked-in spaces, no light. They almost hear the crack of pistol shots.

    They walk towards the Death Wall, the Gallows, the Gas Chamber. They want to believe this is a museum, not a real place. But there are reminders: candles burning, flower wreathes, the star of David.

    Outside the camp, they wait for their bus, drink burning tea from polystyrene cups and feel the rain on cold skin. They will be back at their hotels soon, eating pierogi, drinking vodka. They are only tourists after all.

    Annie Clarkson

  38. Do you remember when you and Michael and John got away from Nana and we flew off through the window? And how I used to come for you most years after to take you back to spring-clean my place, and how, some years, you thought I’d forgotten? I’m not surprised you look so amazed. Yes, it’s me all right. I know I’ve changed and no wonder you didn’t know me. What’s happened is that I grew up in the end.

    And do you remember those times I didn’t come to fetch you to spring-clean? I hadn’t forgotten as you thought, but took along Mandy instead. Her mother didn’t make the fuss yours did and there wasn’t a great dog hanging around. But the trouble with Mandy was that once at my place she started changing everything. She forced me to help her, saying it was disgusting I should fly about the seaside with that daft fairy Tinkerbell, as she called her, while someone else did all the work, and unpaid as well. And she rounded up the Lost Boys and made them start a vegetable patch. They were quite happy because they were the type who’d grow up anyway and didn’t mind the idea of helping a girl. She was a real bitch, and kept on about me being only interested in myself and my feelings. She got so mad with Tinkerbell’s high spirits that she shut her up in a screw-top jar and threw her into the sea near the Mermaids’ Lagoon.

    Another problem was that in one of our fights we got into a clinch and I began to have most unusual feelings and one thing led to another and in the end the old hormones kicked in at long last and life, as they say, changed forever.

  39. I was sorry when they found me. For a few hours, I accepted that I wouldn’t be found, and that I would spend the rest of my life in the trees. The Rebellion might falter for a moment, and everyone would be very sad and sorry that the young Princess had been killed and her body never found, but history would go on without me.

    I was learning to make cord, twisting strips of sweet-smelling bark together. Anything to fill my hands while I waited not to be rescued. I could see bikes zipping along the ground, but no-one, not one of our forest-trained team; not one of the imperials, thought to look up. I could have shouted and they would have heard -- but I kept quiet, twisting my cord, filling my hands.

    I saw Chewie sniffing along my trail, and I could have warned them about the trap. I watched the hunting party climbing back up to the village with their nets and poles. I did try to get them set free, pleading ‘But they’re my friends.’ That day, I wasn’t a rebel and a politician. I was a village woman with no powers at all. If I had been a rebel and a politician, they would have been free in moments -- well maybe after some hours of negotiation.

    And when the Ewoks had been frightened by Luke’s trick into not cooking everyone I care about, and we were sitting in the hall listening to 3PO’s story, Han put his arm around me. Once again, I wanted to run away. I didn’t have time for love. I was a woman who had to drop everything and run at a moment’s notice. I was a woman who might have to withstand torture. I didn’t have time for love.

  40. ‘You’re just like an old Nazi’, Barbie spat in Ken’s face, after he had slapped her.
    ‘You’re a girlie’, was his asshole answer. And she hated him for being alive and not playing with her and her dolls.

    She told him he betrayed God. He asked how one could betray God, and not believe in him?
    ‘Or her’, she insisted.
    ‘Him or her, whatever’, he grinned.
    He claimed that he was talking about religion, not just about God, that all religions had the same basic ingredients, with local variations, that they introduced laws in order to control the people, that these laws could not be challenged because they came from a source beyond the reach.

    At night she watched the moon, a giant grey-eyed, heavily-tattooed princess, and asked ‘God, is there a reason why you invented the Nazis?’
    God answered that God would make God’s own beliefs quite clear in God’s summing up as to whether or not they were here for a reason. This would be on Judgement Day, God said.
    ‘God, if you can be praised for any good thing and event that happens, is this then claiming that you are responsible for the way the world is?’
    ‘Mmh’, God said.
    ‘In that case you must also be responsible for the bad things as well? My brother said if the bad things are not due to you, God, who says so? God?’
    God was silent and the pale moon, Earth's only natural satellite, looked down from the sky. It was more than two-thirds as large as Mercury, she recalled, a cold, dry orb, whose surface was studded with craters and strewn with rocks and dust. Hitler had replaced God with himself, Hitler. She found it was really good, that there were still enough people who didn’t believe whatever.


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