“We went to school together, ate the same sandwiches, played together, all in a small town consisting of a war memorial covered in bird droppings, a church, a pub come men only club and back to back housing.” Four girls explore an old railway station opening emotions no child should ever have. Yet a simple discovery amongst the rubbish is enough to trigger shame, guilt and misunderstanding. The girls, shabby and misfits in a bleak community where closed doors represent something far more sinister, debate their find and talk about the taboo subject of sex. Only many years later will the real pain reveal itself. A housewife, brittle of mind, confronts a husband and the circle is finally complete.
Annie, Jane, Chip and I, is the main tale in a series of short contemporary stories. Some experiment with the very fabric of language as social freedom looms whilst others explore the pain of a man awaiting his death and a child stranded in the jungles of Vietnam.
Murder, suicide, war, religion and even horror await the reader. Just be warned – never accept sweets from children.
The author has rated this book R (not suitable for those 17 and under).
I was nine then, and so were Annie, Jane and ‘Chip’. They represented all I had by way of friends and I’m sure they felt the same. How we behaved is proof enough. We were uniformity in so many ways.
We went to school together, ate the same sandwiches, played together, all in a small town consisting of a war memorial covered in bird droppings, a church, a pub come men only club and back to back housing. And all this in the shadow of a slag heap from a coal mine long since shut down.
Ours was a town full of real men and skinny women who took refuge behind aprons and resented the obligation of Friday night. I don’t claim to understand why Friday night had to be observed with such religion but I do remember mum’s cold and bitter words:
“Pub and bed” she yelled at my drunken father before slipping away to perform her duty.
For my part the ritual was on Saturday night and was ‘our little secret.’ I suppose the one compensation was the lack of alcohol in his veins. Well, I hope it was compensation for I have to cling on to some belief in human good nature.
At school I was ceaselessly described as an underachiever. The teachers incessantly complained at how far I sat from the black board, which surely proved I had perfect eyesight. They also showed great concern over the poems ‘of a nature unbefitting for a girl of MaryAnn’s age.’ This, admittedly talentless, hobby distressed my teachers, all females, my mum also female, but not father, a male, who read my efforts avidly.
When pressed for a probable cause, the teachers unanimously sited Chip as a distracting influence on my limited abilities to concentrate.
Thereupon she was barred from our house. But Chip and I were good friends and since I had no inkling to spend time at home such a sentence had little effect.
Copyright© Andre Clinchant. All rights reserved.