On style

the wall

I just hammer something half way into shape, throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks… have a look at aftermath… maybe sugar and spice.

(J. Loving, private correspondence)

Doing what the customer wants is a recipe for conservatism and the reduction of humanity to a bunch of “yes” people with no innovation and certainly no improvement.

All the best writers (and philosophers) are clear and coherent. Those who are not are shams and silly children trying to be clever clever for lack of talent.

(Oscar-nominated filmmaker Anthony Howarth, private correspondence)

poets leak internal weather
the outside has less meaning when the inside is open
I like it when words do different jobs to their usual, proper ones. I don’t want to write if I am only prepared to stay on the safe side. There is no growth on that side.

I have my fave writing tools on the table always – black Bic, blue, green Bic, orange felt-tip, also, there’s a yellow felt-tip this week, and I like using a magenta felt-tip, sometimes HB pencils… and a red pencil I keep losing, then it all depends which one is closest to hand when I need to write… so it’s almost Random, but I’d say it’s emotional and aesthetic, too. Like if I was drawing or painting. My notebooks are my best friends, constant. They go back years and are jam-packed with thoughts, ideas, drawings, rough drafts etc. going back, sporadically, to 1973.

I call it MY writing, that’s all. It is MINE. It has to be Mine. I have to make it MINE, make the words MY very own words. I wouldn’t bother doing it if I couldn’t find ways to make the words mine. Like, I’m facing a brick wall built by men, tradition etc. and I find my own ways to dissolve the grout, seep through the cracks, climb over, dig under, go around this ugly, brutish wall. Wall built by dullards. My only tool is the slippery part of me that is very me. Very me speaks my words, not theirs. Very me speaks their words in my own way. Their words – used by me – can become my words.

(Penny Goring, private correspondence )

 

mon dernier biberon

My last bottle? Mon dernier biberon?

Yeah… nine months old, I was… Parents were both hairdressers. Worked from 7am till 9 in the evening. I was alone upstairs. And I needed to do a poo, but I didn’t like to do that in my nappy anymore. I was alone upstairs. In those days, you didn’t have gates to stop the babies from falling down the stairs or anything, your mum’d say Don’t go near those stairs or you’ll fall down and hurt yourself! And you either listened. Or you learned the hard way. I was alone upstairs with my biberon. And I needed to poo. I cried, how I cried, but no-one reacted even though I could hear my mother dressing hair downstairs in that voice she wore for customers. No time for me. I screamed. Howled? No reaction. So I shuffled over to the stairs, or crawled, I can’t remember. I got hold of my biberon. They were made of glass in them days. Picked it up. And with all the force I possessed, I slung it against the door, which it hit, before it smashed into a thousands pieces, making a terrific noise. Mum came dashing up the stairs. Burst into the room. She saw the shards of glass and the child on the floor in tears. That, she said, was your last biberon! Then she disappeared. Then she came back with something to brush it up with. You, Jean-Joseph, will never have another one! Downstairs she wore her honey voice once more.

Notice the first thing that bitch did? Go for the broken glass and leave the baby to its misery. I remember my rage. The strength of my rage, which I still have today, and the violence prowling within me from the very beginning.

(from Verses Nature, forthcoming)

Long Time: tongues will wag!

“Jack!” Monica prodded him, “C’mon, you’ll be late for work. Jack… you playing wiv yourself?”

“Wot time is it?”

“Time you stopped wanking and brought some money in!”

“Know wot? You’re as common as muck.”

She leant over, squashing her breasts against his arm, said, “Give ’ere, let me do that for ya…”

But he yanked the sheets back and marched his cheated hard-on out the bedroom.

They hadn’t done it for ages. There he was, wanking off next to her and there she was, only too willing. Monica fell back onto her pillow, wondered what she might be doing wrong, but then thought fuck it, she snatched her cigarettes from the bedside table.

 

 

*

“Hello again,” said Jack as he reached the bus-stop, wearing a grin so wide almost all his teeth were on show. “You and I must stop meeting like this or tongues will wag, you know!”

“I don’t know what yu mean!”

“Don’t you, now. We’ve met here at least a dozen times… wot’m I saying,” he interrupted himself, “dozens! And I get a glimpse of you almost every day, or every other day. You never have a friendly word to say to me though I know you don’t dislike it.”

“Is what yu tink I can possibly have to say to someone like you?”

“Well, you could smile once in a while and say, “Hello, Jack, fancy meeting you here,” or “Hello, Jack, nice to see you again,” you know, something like that. Nice n friendly, like.”

“Nice an frenly me back foot!”

“Wot have you got to be so defensive about, eh? I don’t hiss or whistle as you go past like your lot do. Well, do I? No, I most certainly do not! I’m just nice n friendly, as I said. So wot’s a young girl like you got to be so uptight about, anyway, eh?”

“If is woman yu deh look go look inna yu own kind an inna yu own age, yaah.”

“I beg your pardon?!” It was far too loud to be a real whisper. One or two heads turned. Jack put his back between them and Rose, “How old d’you fink I am, then?” Did he look a mess? He knew Monica could look a damn sight better but he thought he wasn’t doing too badly.

“Yu old enough to be me farda, yaah.” Rose turn her face the other way look down the road.

Wot? Don’t make me laugh!”

But he did. “If I started having kids at fifteen like your lot seem to then I could be your father, grant you that.” She had a nerve! Old enough to be her father indeed! “I’m only -”

“How old you is don’t interest me.”

“Wot does interest you, eh?”

“Wat me do is none a fi yu business.” Is wat mek im no go weh an leff me alone, im is a blasted nuisance, she thought. An where di blasted bus deh?

No blasted bus, near or far, but Lou, as luck would have it, a little up from the bus-stop, Lou stepping out of the newsagent’s and heading their way, hunched over her cigarette.

“Oh ello, Emily! On your way home, are you?”

“Yes, see you.” Rose managed a meaningless exchange for a second or two, but glanced up only briefly at the voice that had so stabbed into her privacy and sliced her open.

“Wot you looking for, then? In a bag that small can’t be too hard to find anyfing, can it? I mean there’s not a lot you put in your bag when you’re going to work not like when you’re going out somewhere special I’m off somewhere nice tonight. Fink I might pop out again this aftanoon n see if I find somefing to doll me up a little bit noffing I hate more’n a woman who lets herself go, can’t be surprised if her old man’s eyes start doing the walkies, know wot I mean? Course, me n my old man we’re just like we were from the beginning, wouldn’t change im for the world n he wouldn’t want no other woman, either, I see he’s alright. No-one goes running after a bit a scraggy chop when he’s got steak at home, know wot a mean? Anyhow I must be off, listen, you fancy coming out for a round of bingo sometime? All girls togevva, we don’t half ’ave a good laugh I got noffing against you lot. My Michelle had a golly when she was little got it from her auntie Diane. Loved that little golly, she did. Really, must go, got a fousand n one fings to do before the day’s done. Cheerio, Emily. See you tomorrow!”

You know them people who talk non-stop? No business if you show no sign of interest, just talk talk talk without them even stop to draw breath? This is a kind of person Rose could never stand, like a whistling woman and a crowing hen; they were an abomination. For one long, long, moment, Rose stood with her eyes closed, her head tilted back, as if knocking back some nasty cough syrup. Swallowed she did, too, then set her lips sternly before opening her eyes once more to find Jack turned to face her, not smiling, or self-satisfied, rather thoughtful, even sad. She would not look at him. Said,

“Here yu bus.”

He continued to look at her.

“Look, yu gwine miss yu bus!”

“I’m not taking this one. Not today. I’m catching the same one as you are,” then he ducked away from the vexed look she shot him. “No need to get your knickers in a twist, I’m not gonna follow you home or anyfing like that… where you getting off?”

Silence.

He sighed, “Look, you can’t stop me from getting on the same bus as you. There ain’t a law against it, far’s I know. If you tell me where you’re getting off I’ll get off a stop earlier, how’s that?” he tried to be cheery.

Silence.

“Am I talking to a brick wall or somefing?”

After a long, long while, “Me deh get off by Pallard’s.”

Jack nodded, as if contemplating a second option, decided upon:

“Pollard’s, is it? A deal’s a deal,” but his cheerfulness made no impact on her. He exhaled with a slight whistle, his eyes on his shoes.

“Emily -”

Rose jump. He had said her name so sadly, so painfully, but never the pain which she had felt.

“…that first time I spoke to you and made you laugh, your face lit up so much it was an absolute beauty to see… you oughta laugh more often… really, Emily…”

Their bus ground to a halt at their feet.

“Ladies first.”

For her part, Rose hugged her handbag close to her chest and looked obstinately out of the window.

The West Indian conductor stopped in the aisle.

“Two please, mate.”

Rose had no time to protest.

The conductor swung the arm of his ticket machine round till it ching chinged,

Ching ching!

He handed Jack the two tickets.

“Taa, mate.”

Jack Dunbar and Emily Thompson sat upright. Not a word passed between the two a dem. Once, they brushed shoulders as the driver took a corner too sharply. Not a word.

“Pollard’s is the next but one, so I’ll get off here, okay?”

She nodded.

He reached for the cord overhead, suspended from the back through to the front of the bus like a washing line. Pulled it.

Ting ting!

“Some money drop fram yu pocket.”

Jack glanced down to see a coin lying on his seat. “Can’t be mine. I keep my money in my wallet, here,” he touched his breast pocket.

“Well, it’s nat mine neither.”

“You have it.”

“Me say it’s not mine!” she insisted, irascibly.

He picked it up as the bus lurched forward past the traffic lights. “I’ll use it to pay your fare the next time… there will be a next time, won’t there, Emily?”

 

 

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When Women Want More More

Recently, a female writer said to me:  It would take guts to hand over the power one can have as a woman. You can be any sex you like when you write. Or none at all. You can be a tree.

On the topic of feminism, she responded:  I’m not sure what it is. Maybe because I’m bisexual, I don’t feel particularly affiliated to either sex. Or, I feel affiliated to both. Or I loathe the lot of you.

A barrage of questions ensued:
i. How does your first sentence relate to the second one?
ii. When you talk about guts, are you talking about women in general or women when they write?
iii. If the former, what, according to you, does this power look like and when do you (or have to) hand it over?
iv. If you have power when you write, what is it you want to use this power for?

and I wanted to know:
v. Would you say that you succeed in leaving your gender behind you when you write and if so, wouldn’t that be giving away the power you have as a woman???

Answers pending.

I confessed:
I personally don’t feel that I have a lot of power as a woman (in general), but I know that when I write, I’m a warrior.

Long Time: But stap!

Emily Thompson, Rose to her friends, emigrates to the motherland, England, in search of a better life. It will be hard work for the young mother in this rich man’s country; above all she must also come to terms with this unknown phenomenon; di Hinglish dem.

James Dunbar. Jack is what he answers to. Picking his way through the mucky incidents of life, he consoles himself that things will get better.

*

One job was not enough to get by. After cleaning the offices, Rose makes haste to job no.2. On her way, she meets, for the first time, my other hero. Jack. Her first impression of him?

 

Rose slipped the letter into the postbox as she turned the corner to the multi-storey office block where she was employed as an early morning cleaner, a little sideline she had found without help from anyone. Six weeks on, after reading the ad in the local paper – cleaners always wanted. Good rates! – after pulling open that heavy red door to the public callbox, stepping into it for the first time, explaining who she was and being offered the job there and then, six weeks on, and Rose had slowly fallen into the routine of rising early. The voice on the phone informed her she had to be on the premises by a quarter to six, would earn an hour and a half’s pay, for which she would have a specified number of floors to clean. Rose nodded her consent. Miss Brown then explained how to get there, and because Rose had a good head, she nodded once again to everything without needing to write any of it down.

She had got up at four-thirty, moaning. “Dem sleep underground, wear wig pan dem head even wen dem got a head full of hair, an dem get up go work inna di middle a di night. Bwoy, is wat a race a people dis is…”

“Sorry, girls!” Lou would say in a breathless hurry and a clank of her keys as she came rushing up to the main entrance, outing her fag, accepting, without rancour, the stern regard of her grumbling, frost-bitten workmates. “We’ll ’ave to give it a bit of elbow grease this time, won’t we?”

The managerials started turning up around eight. A cleaner or two, whoever wasn’t in a hurry, might still be indulging in a chat in the tea-room over a mug of tea and a custard cream, though on a late day, the women would still be dashing around wiping away dust and setting files with a brisk irreverence back on their shelves.

“Another night on the town, Lou?” one of the managerials would always end up joking as he walked in with a newspaper folded under his armpit, or removed a tie from his jacket pocket to hang it up on the coat stand for later.

“Wish it were, wish it were…”

At the bus-stop, her hour and a half done, Rose’s mind running through the things she had to do before her main job in the pie factory started. She could do a quick bit of shopping and have a look in at Pollard’s to see if their children’s underwear had come down in price. Oh, and the rent had to be paid. Miss Brown, though friendly, was strict, she’d send Carmen to each of the tenants on a Thursday evening – rent due tomarra –  before they had the chance to squander it over the weekend. Four or five people, waiting at the bus-stop. Always the same faces, engaged in small talk about the weather. About the prices. One particular man had smiled at Rose a couple of times before, had said “Good morning!” to her once. Rose just look him up and down, is what im tink im doing?

“Bet it’s not half as nice here as it is where you come from, is it?”

“I beg yu pardon?” She span round, irritated by the sudden voice so close to her ear.

“Said it’s probably much nicer where you come from, ain’t it?”

No answer.

“Sunshine all the year round, white beaches, warm sea, lazy days… That’s wot we fink anyway, but if it was such a bed a roses, you lot wouldn’t all be here in the first place, right?” he winked at her. “Where you from, the West Indies?”

“Yes, if yu must know,” she said, giving him no encouragement, unused to people – to white men – just marching up and making conversation with her like that.

“Yes, I must know. Gotta be careful wot I say, don’t I? Africans and West Indians don’t like to be mixed up, do they?”

A man of about forty, or so she guessed, she could never tell. Roughly her height, fair-haired, slightly ginger, he had those watery blue eyes and that pale skin. Rose could see the veins in his head, thumping greeny-blue. He looked like a fish.

“You from Jamaica?”

She eyed him critically, “That’s right.”

“That’s important to know too, you see. I can’t well talk about ‘small island people’ if I ain’t sure you’re not one of them.”

Rose had to laugh in spite of herself.

“Oh yes. I know a bit or two about John Small and him got money. That’s wot you say, innit?”

Kuya! Rose nearly dead laughing.

Other people in the queue turn round. Turn back.

Good Lord, this long long time she never laugh like that! Not since she leave home. A deep, deep-from-the-belly laugh, petering out against her will, leaving behind the embers of a smile to flick at the corners of her young, cupid lips, too tender, too pretty to harbour the hardship they had grown to know.

“Kuya! Lord have mercy!”

“Oh yes! I’ve gotta few Jamaican friends down at the docks where I work. Nicest bunch, they are, really nice bunch. Livened up the place no end, if you ask me.” He smiled into her bright, moist eyes.

“Yu work in the docks?”

“That’s right. Used to be a taxi-driver. Know London like the back o’ me hand, I do, but, well,” he sniffed, “that’s anovva story. Hated it in the docks at first but as I said, oh, here’s me bus,” he shuffled forward with the others, “anyhow, my name’s Jack. See you again sometime, I hope.” He got on, took a seat near the window, nodded to her as the bus pulled away with a hiss, then a purr.

 

 

long-walk-web 300x450 

‘Strands of fate magically interwoven to give you a reggae-type experience full of pain, sweat, suffering, pride, poise and grace.’ (Goodreads)

 

Available as paperback or ebook.

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Long Time: reach safe

Emily Thompson, Rose to her friends, emigrates to the motherland, England, in search of a better life. It will be hard work for the young mother in this rich man’s country; above all she must also come to terms with this unknown phenomenon; di Hinglish dem.

In the following extract, Rose arrives at her home in England. Jamaican sunshine now long gone. How quickly will she adapt?

 

*

The door slammed after a quick “Thank you!” After the taxi-driver had been paid and had winked at her as he drove off, wheeling his vehicle round in a seamless U-turn further down the road.

So, this was Beswick Road. An infantry of redbrick and glass, shoulder to shoulder. Not many people on the street. Not like back home. Pale, lonely-looking, dreary herds had wandered, morosely, past her cab window as cab-man insisted through the London streets to her new home, Hinglan, where the sun seemed to have changed its mind.

It began drizzling. Again. Light flakes of water you don’t even notice at first, playing with you, meaning no real harm, but Rose had had her hair done especially, plus her clothes were new, so she picked up her suitcase, pushed open the garden gate and mounted the steps to the front door. A three-storey house with further rooms, it seemed, in the basement.

“Lord have mercy! Dem live undergrown like some sort of animal!”

She pushed the bell marked Brown. It screeched, alarmed, as though Rose had unexpectedly, maliciously, dug her fingernails into its side. No-one came at once.

“If yu tink me ringing dat bell one more time!” she cursed through her bottom lip, taking a step back to crane her neck up at the house. Her new home. She wondered how long for. Another step back and she caught a young black girl sweep the curtains back from a ground floor window, report over her shoulder what she saw, then disappear before she had had the time to catch Rose smooth her skirt out and wait at the bottom of the stairs.

“Juss hopen dat blaasted door before me drench, yaa,” and whilst the cussing came naturally, she had to will her toes down hard against the sole of her shoe to stop her right foot from tapping impatiently that way. Inside the house a door opened. Closed. A key laboured in the lock to keep whatever out of sight. The floorboards creaked all the way to the front door, which inched open just enough to reveal half of a slender young West Indian girl.

“Yes?”

Mrs Brown, who had had to go to work despite the new arrival, had instructed her daughter, Carmen, to let the woman in and show her the room. Rose followed Carmen up the stairs. Carmen felt she ought to say something. Asked Rose if she reach over safely. Yes, Rose said and considered telling her the story about the passport but changed her mind. Later, if they became friends. Carmen was younger than her and didn’t much look as though she knew anything about anything. Did she like England, Carmen asked. So far so good, Rose said, noticing that Carmen didn’t speak Jamaican English.

“Tell me someting. Yu born here?”

“Hm-hm, I was.”

“So how long yu madda here already?”

“About twenty years, I reckon. Somefing like that.”

“An how old yu is?”

“I’m nearly fifteen.”

“Yu gat any children?”

Carmen laughed, “Me? You gotta be joking! My mum’d kill me!” And then Carmen ran out of things to say so she continued up the stairs in silence.

Someone had tried to pretty up the second landing with a bushy busy-lizzy in a plastic mesh flowerpot next to their door. The bright pink flowers stretched out in the direction of sunlight from stems as thick as rhubarb. The occasional petal had fallen onto the doormat calling Welcome To My Home. All the doors were painted brown. Two or three doors on each landing. Dark brown carpet with autumn leaves wafting up the stairs. Later, Rose would ease out of her shoes. Run her toes along the carpet. Yes, man. Rich man country, dis. Let me wait an see what di other people dem here is like, she was thinking when Carmen said, shyly, “That’s your room,” handing over the key she had been playing with in her pocket the whole time.

A minuscule room at the very top of the house, at least she didn’t have to share it with anyone. One small window, looking out onto the backs of the houses in the street running parallel to Beswick Road. Little poky patches of green with junk lying around; rusting pieces of she knew not what, bicycle wheels, car parts, clothes hung out to dry but getting wet again. One or two gardens had been done up rather nicely, though;  rose bushes and other pretty flowers just dying to come out. One or two trees already in bloom. A woman ran out in her slippers to pluck her washing from the line. Workmen busy on a roof further along. She heard a crash every now and then as old tiles were tossed down the front side of a house she could not see but was pretty sure looked just like hers.

Mrs Brown’s house had a garden too, though Rose could not imagine she’d have much time to sit in it. Share such a small patch of green with a house full of strangers? And who wanted to sit outside in that everlasting cold anyway? Wrap up wrap up like an Eskimo and can’t enjoy yourself? She had her own room. That would have to do. There, nobody could pester her with questions she would rather not answer. She had not come to England to make friends, she had come to work, she told herself as she walked away from the window, trying to establish some sort of feeling for the room that was now hers; her home. Once again, she wondered how long for, wondered if her children were missing her already and if she would miss them enough, it was so new; leaving Jamaica, flying over, riding in a taxi, her hair, her clothes; she sincerely hoped she would miss her children enough.

“It’ll be a really nice room once you doll it up a bit,” Carmen encouraged. On the middle floor was a shared kitchen, she went on. You needed your own pots and pans. To punch gas, you put your coins in the slot on the side of the gas meter, then you turned the knob. Toilet’s outside, Carmen spoke to her feet.

“Tell me someting. Is how many people deh live here?”

Eighteen, said Carmen, on her way down the stairs. Money matters Rose should talk over with Mrs Brown when she got back from work, Carmen threw over her shoulder.

She moved her handbag aside to make a little space. Set the picture down, carefully, like an egg. Quick, quick, out of her clothes, her shoulders clenched against the unaccustomed cold. Rose folded her new orange suit, placing it reverently over the back of the chair before she wriggled into her nightie and buttoned up her school cardigan. Cold and dark was this place, man, but she would worry about that later. Wrapped up in the blanket, she thanked the Lord for bringing her over safely.

Shut eye.

Open eye.

London, April —, 19—

Dear Junie,

How are you? I’m sure you are fine and One-foot is fine. I hope Marlene is fine and Leroy is fine. Give them my love.

I cross over safely. England is very cold. It’s raining all the time and there’s no good sunshine. With weather like this the people bound to be miserable. I already miss Jamaica. The address I had is correct when I get to England. The houses are really small and squash up together. Never mind. A roof is a roof. I am so tired after the journey, but I think, let me sit down and let you know I reach safe. Tomorrow I must go and look work. London is so big there must be work for everyone. As you know I have a job promised to me. I hope him don’t forget. You know how them say the streets of London are paved with gold, well, there’s not one word of truth in it. But I hope all the same that things work out how I planned and that I don’t come here for nothing.

Hear this. I get off the plane go to customs or immigrations or something like that. Him ask me, is this your passport? What a stupid question! Me say, of course is me passport. Whose passport it suppose to be? Hear him; it could belong to anybody for all he know, we all look the same. I glad One-foot wasn’t there or him would box off him facety head. Generally the white people friendly enough. So many of them stop and ask me if they can help me at the airport. I didn’t know what to do. All I had was the slip of paper with the address. Some of them look at me a bit funny but is ignorant them ignorant. One woman take me to the taxi and tell the taxi driver me is a friend so him not to drive no long route but take me direct. Me nearly die laughing! The English taxi them peculiar you see! Big and black like a bug and you got room for a whole heap a luggage in the back with you. Them even got one clapdown seat if is more people. We drive a long long time before we get to London. Them got one big red bus them call double-decker. Take you everywhere you want to go, the taxi driver tell me. The taxi driver nosey you see! Him want to know where me come from and how long me going to stay. I just smile and tell him little bit. You can’t be unfriendly. Tell One-foot I still got my head.

I am very tired and I’m going to sleep a little bit. I will write you soon. I’m surprised, I see quite a few black faces here in London. Say hello to everybody for me and let them know I reach safe.

Junie, Marlene, Leroy, One-foot, goodbye and God bless.

Yours,

Rose

 

From Long Time Walk on Water:

‘Weaves love, self-discovery, race, class politics, immigration, and the British postcolonial imaginations into a beautiful tour de force. A moving account of black sojourners’ day-to-day in a new alien land as they tumble forward for a better life and belonging.’ (Amazon)

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cogito

JBS thinking in Berlin b:w

 

I THINK
I THINK I think
I THINK I THINK I think
I THINK SHE THINKS
I THINK I think SHE thinks
I THINK she THINKS she thinks
I THINK she thinks she THINKS I think
I THINK she THOUGHT
I think she THOUGHT she thought
I think she thought she THOUGHT I thought
I think she thought she thought I thought I thought
I think I thought
I thought I knew
I thought anew I knew I thought
I thought I knew I knew
( ( ( ( I ) ) ) )
( think ( ( think ( (think ∞ ) think ) ) think ) )

 

 

copyright © 2013 Joan Barbara Simon

Photo by P.I., copyright © 2014

The Landing

The plane landed with a bump. Rose squeezed herself into the seat and when she opened her eyes the plane was still racing along the runway so she dug her forefingers into the rectangular metal ashtrays and closed her eyes once more. She had tried to learn the national anthem in case, after all, how could she just pick up herself and go all that way and not know a thing. Nobody she knew had learned the British national anthem; they had better things to worry about. United Kingdom. Rose could think of nothing. Two addresses ensconced in a pocket of her handbag, that was it. United Kingdom. Great Britain. The Motherland. Hinglan

This was it, that moment that had been beckoning as she stood over the grave of her starved child, for whom the corn she had planted in desperation had not grown quickly enough, despite good J.A. sunshine and her nightly prayers. That moment was now real,  rapping at her door. The plane had not crashed, even as it had swooped down over the island, pecking like a famished crow at a crumb. She had not been sucked out of the emergency exit, nor had her food got up of its own accord to float around. And there was air enough for everyone, like in a train, really, only you couldn’t open the windows.

The captain spoke a few words. It was a chilly day in London, they could expect repeated drizzly spells. One or two moans on board, one or two jovial remarks that the captain should take them back.

“Thank you for travelling with us. I hope you had a pleasant journey,” the English stewardess speak like a book.

“Very. Tank yu.” Rose stepped out of the aircraft. Into the Motherland.

from Long Time Walk on Water:

‘a journey of self-discovery, beautifully crafted, and one that will leave the reader as changed as Simon’s characters. Highly, highly recommended.’ (Amazon)

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