|Marcus Clarke's Short
Nottinghamshire Stories Contact
|Influences and Childhood Short Stories.
I'm duel Heritage. West Bridgford and West Ham. Born in West Ham, London of a Cockney Dad. (Had TB died after a long illness in 1963). His family had worked on Covent Garden Market and were mostly grocers throughout the 19C. Though at least one is thought to have served at the Battle of Waterloo. Brought up in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. I'm told I'm descended from a 17C Sheriff of Nottingham (Thomas Walker 1666) on my mothers side. We also think a lot of her ancestors were Archers in the 100 yrs War. After arriving in Quebec as a Baby I spent several years in Canada before returning to England and entering English Orphanages.
I have always considered myself to be, also Canadian.
are pictures of me at home in Canada with my adoptive
Toronto family. (I'm the younger blond one) and upper left is a picture
of me and my mum at Niagara Falls. Lower right Me with our Toronto neighbours
and a paddling pool.
is a picture of me shortly after arrival in England outside
my first NCH
Orphanage in Sheringham with my new carer. It was here as a
4 year old child that, rumbling something was afoot, I broke
free from staff, ran out onto the balcony and shouted, Mum!
Only to see her walk silently down the drive, pass through
the gates and disappear. Below right is a recent picture of
me outside that former Orphanage. Here I had my first
snowball fight. Sang 'there's a hole in my bucket dear Liza'
in the Christmas Show and saw the funniest thing ever. Someone actually walk
into a lamppost.
Left This is me in between Orphanages in a shop (probably Beatties Wolverhampton) holding a Monkey. I tried to hold the Monkey like I was told to, facing camera, but he hated it. I understood why as I looked at him, as he looked at me. We were kinda the same, we even had the same expression on our faces.
|Bernard Beech (right) was my
stepfather from 1964. A Diver in the Royal Navy. His Father
Fred Beech (left) had served in the Long Range Desert Patrol
Group and was Lt.Col. J. 'Donny' Player's Driver during WW2.
With him when he was killed. When Bernard left the Navy he
worked at the Nottingham bicycle factory Raleigh. In almost
exactly the same fashion as Albert Finney in the Nottingham
set film 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.' Incidentally,
I saw Albert Finney in the play Orphans on Shaftsbury Avenue
in the 1980's and when I later bumped into him at the BBC I
felt moved to tell him how brilliant I thought he had been
in it. He listened, put his hand firmly on my shoulder,
pulled me to him and said...... Well that's another story.
I was 6 years old and in my second NCH Orphanage, Princess Alice. My best friend was Renee a black boy of West Indian parentage. We had several "Children of the Windrush". Their visitors had deep and rich Caribbean accents. Everything revolved around ‘Duties’ in NCH. Chores. Making your bed, carpet bashing, setting the table, fetching the post etc. Even sitting on the loo for a prescribed amount of time. “To make you regular.” I was doing my duty and clearing the breakfast table and Renee was doing his in the kitchen. Drying the dishes. Some dispute arose which I didn't properly overhear but which resulted in Renee swearing. The punishment for swearing was a bar of soap in the mouth to “wash your mouth out” and this punishment was quickly and efficiently administered to him. Renee then did something that we all knew should never be done. Not in front of anybody else at least. He cried. This you see made you an instant victim with the other kids and attracted an array of exotic punishments from our grown ups. I play fought with Renee and shared a bath with him. So I knew he was a strong and muscular boy. Regardless, he was flown up the stairs with ease by the grown ups. The flight was accompanied by grown up laughter and cries of "crying eh”, “Like a big girl”? “Well”! I waited just out of sight in the doorway at the bottom of the stairs and after what seemed an age a rag of humanity spilled down the stairs coming to a stop at the bottom. Sprawled out and looking like a Ragdoll. It was Renee. He stood up straight. I looked at him slowly from the bottom up. He was wearing brown leather buckled sandals and white socks. A plaid pleated skirt and short sleeved white blouse. It shone out against his dark black skin. He had been dressed as a girl. For crying. He looked at me firmly and stoically. Then said “not a word”. I held his hand and we set off to school together in silence.
Copyright Marcus Clarke 2010
|Guns and Footballers
Steve wasn't a school friend he just lived nearby. Above a launderette on Melton Road in West Bridgford. I would call on him there Saturday mornings mostly. We talked about guns and bombs and enjoyed some competitive target practice with our Air Arms. I would knock on his door half way along the launderette's side passage. Then wait for the sound of clunking shoes on the inside bare stair steps. I passed the time looking down to the scrap strewn backyard dominated by a large rusty underground petro storage tank that was apparently "worth a fortune." On this occasion Steve's mum appeared and told me to wait. That Steve would be down. She didn't say shortly or soon and I knew from experience that Steve might be some time. Steve wasn't allowed friends upstairs as some years before a clock had been stolen by one. I don't know if this was true or just an excuse to make Friends wait outside. I always imagined his living accommodation to be as cramped and filled with junk as his back yard was. I dropped my bag and followed the wall around to the rear of the building where I knew I could sit and wait. There I was pleased to see footballer Bobby Moore sat on the open back door step of the Launderette. The escaping warm air enveloped us as I sat in the doorway next to him. I knew Bobby Moore though I had almost no interest in football. Other than playing it. It was only a handful of years since he had famously led England to World Cup victory. I had also spoken to him before at least once on this very step. I had told Steve about it at the time and he had quite nonchalantly replied that Bobby Moore part owned the launderette and was often there. I took Steve at his word but considered he may not have believed me and have just made this up. But it didn't seem that implausible and I presumed there to be some connection between Bobby Moore and West Bridgford as several years before this the then new England Team Captain had given out the Sports Day prizes at my nearby Infant School. Barely a stones throw from this launderette. I remembered my elation at him presenting me with a camera and my deep disappointment when I discovered it to be just a trick rubber one that squirted water. Steve as it turned out I never did get to know very well. He was a bit geeky, a Radio Ham. He went to an all boys School at least two bus rides away. I considered there might be some oddity around him somehow as another friend of mine, who I didn't even know knew Steve had apparently painted a small yellow Swastika on his door. Steve wouldn't talk about it and I don't recall if it was there on this day. It had been there for ages though. Quite bazaar it seemed to me at the time. Wasn't the Swastika a German War thing? Steve I should mention now I never met as an adult to confirm or deny this either. Though I thought I saw him on a Sherwood bus going into Nottingham once with a gay companion. Twice I thought I saw him in Nottingham City centre. Dressed as a woman. Being a transvestite you might say. On both occasions that I thought I had seen him in Nottingham he had been wearing a long black dress. He wore a little make up too. Sparingly and quite tastefully applied. Being now over 6 foot tall he was striking and looked strangely elegant. In the space that was my hesitance in saying "Steve?" He had walked by and past me. On the other occasion he was pushing an old matt black ladies bicycle. He stared at me from across the road in a way that seemed to say 'I see you Marcus but I don't want to talk". He looked a bit like one of the witches from the Wizard of Oz. Maybe he was in fancy dress and maybe it wasn't him? Back on the step Bobby Moore was focused on picking the lint off his maroon sharply pressed and creased trousers. He wore polished pointy burgundy shoes and a bright yellow shirt. I can't remember what he had worn the previous times I had met him or what we talked about but he was friendly in his manner and smiled a lot. Easy to talk to you might say. I remember him telling me, " it's a long game." Something I now understand to be a footballing phrase. Though I don't recall us ever talking about Football. I also now know that maroon is a West Ham colour. Oddly enough I was born in West Ham and my father came from Upton Park. Happy coincidences and happy memories. I loved being a kid. I love stories.
Copyright Marcus Clarke 2010
|My Last Day at School.
(West Bridgford Comprehensive)
I remember my last day at School well, I was 16 and it was Sports Day. There's only so much 'cheering on' and sneaking off for a fag that you can stand and by early afternoon I had decided to saunter off home.
Halfway down the School drive I was surprised to be confronted by the Rev. who addressed me by name.
Surprised because I didn't think he knew my name.
I had only ever attended one of his RE (Religious Education) lessons two years before.
He had pointlessly made me draw coloured crayon pictures of 'what ancient scrolls might look like' and so I had spent most of the class contriving an excuse to have my name removed from the register before the ink had properly and definitely dried upon it.
'I'm in the wrong class Sir!' had the ring of truth about it and seemed to do the trick. The following year I simply didn't register for RE in the first place and enjoyed an extra 'free period' in the Cloak Room as you couldn't properly be absent from classes you weren't registered for.
'Where are you going boy?' snapped the Rev's beady eyes sharply back into focus and my attention away from the Tarmac of the School Drive.
Sh...t! So near to the School gates too.
'Home Sir' I meekly replied.
'Home' The Rev pointed skywards, 'But It's not 3 O'clock yet! Come and see me when you come back next term,' he balked.
'Not coming back....' I mumbled into the breeze.
'Then.... I'll see you in Prison!' he said staring me down.
As I passed through the School gates I wondered about what the Rev had so meaningfully said to me.
Strange man I thought and then; 'Why would I want to visit you in Prison Rev?' would have been the really witty reply!
Ahhh The benefit of hindsight.
God Bless us all.
copyright Marcus Clarke 2007
|Policing and Corpsing.
As a teenager in West Bridgford I shared digs with a bunch of Bikers. Some argument had gone on between them resulting in one of the Motorbikes parked outside being vandalised. A Police complaint was generated. Something I thought was more middle class West Bridgford than 'Biker Code'. The first I knew of any of it was when we were all carted off to West Bridgford Police Station. While the others were individually placed in different interrogation rooms to, "spill the beans and blame one another" according to a passing Police Officer. I was sat down at a desk. Guarded by a Police Dog and invited by its officer handler to 'get my side of the story in first.' Telling me that, 'every chain was only as strong as the weakest link.' I really had no idea what any of this was about and certainly had no 'beans to spill'. So I quietly minded my own business and admired the large German Shepherd Police Dog sat next to me. I love big dogs. It was huge. Yet calm and tame. Thinking I might be able to stroke it my 'stupid logic' led me to ask the poorly phrased question. "Does it bite criminal people in the Police Station?" The handler replied "No. They usually fall down the stairs." This might be a Police joke? I kept my hands to myself. A Constable gave me a cup of water. I wondered if this was the famous good Cop, bad Cop routine? Ages later I was stood in a line of leather jackets in a top floor Police Station Office. Like schoolboys we nervously shuffled and coughed as we were 'told off'. Warned or whatever it was by a 'high ranking' Police Officer in white short sleeved shirt. He went on a bit. Bored I began looking around the room. For some reason my eyes settled on the two star and crowns on the high ranking Policeman's lapels. Interested I strained to pick out the detail. They reminded me of Lord Nelson's Templar style breast jewels and of my trip around his flagship. The Victory. My eyes drifted down from these to the middle of the desk where I saw his car keys. Attached to the keyring was a long piece of perspex. It was inlaid with the same two Police Crown thingamajig's that were on his lapel. I gagged. I can't explain why. But I found this absolutely hilarious. What followed was the worse corpsing I have ever had. Even the hairy bikers joined in. Though they didn't know what I was laughing at. It was infectious. The Policeman carried on in his quiet serious tones adding only a long wizened stare at us. The others were able to stifle their laughter but I just couldn't stop. It obviously wound the Policeman up because he suddenly stopped and began shouting at me, "stop it". "Shut up!" Becoming more and more agitated until he stood and shouted loudly in my face, "stop it or I'll throw you through that ......... window". That didn't help at all. I imagined my battered corpse landing with a thud and splat on the outside pavement. Shocking Old Lady Central Avenue Shoppers into clutching their chests and fainting. Scattering their dark brown wicker wheelie baskets with tartan covers off and out into the road. Cars swerving and mounting the pavement. Like a scene from some civil rights film. A Constable saw sense and just bundled me out of the station saying, "idiot".
"Thanks" I whispered.
Copyright Marcus Clarke 2011
The Axeman Cometh.
From Victoria Rd. We could range quite widely. We could go over the Beckett School playing fields. Cut through the Allotments and reach the playing fields by the bottom of Wilford Lane. The Shooting Range. Mess about in the nearby bog. A flood plain wetland. Go down by the River Trent or go the other way around the back of the large new ASDA. Behind the ASDA began The Tip. A large Council landfill site that was always interesting to walk over. Sometimes we used it to get to the old brick yard by the bypass. It was a bit dangerous to cross. No fence. Smelly and very hot. Yes hot. I've never really understood why people imagine landfills to have rubbish in them that either remains there forever or slowly rots away. In my experience. They are simply improvised underground, incinerators. Certainly this site was. Walking over the cracked crusty earth surface was like walking over Volcanic Lava.
Through the heat cracks you could see the raging furnace below. "Spontaneous combustion" the Council tip man said. It blasted hot air straight in your face as you looked down into it. Occasionally it spat stuff out too. The fumes took your breath away. You had to keep moving or your rubber soles would melt. Never tried it in wellies but I think that would have been a disaster.
On this day though we were just setting out from Victoria Road to find our other friends. We found nobody at the Becket school Playing Field so we began to cut through the Allotments. The Allotments had straight and tidy well kept paths lined with hedges and the occasional fence. Sometimes you would see an Allotment gate open and someone in there digging. Mostly the Allotment keepers were polite. Thinking you were the kids of another keeper probably. You got just the occasional “clear off you toerags”, or “this is private property”. As we rounded the main path corner we saw a man chopping logs on a tree stump. He had a massive axe. I remember it’s bright half red and silver head. Its sharp blade and new wooden handle. “Crack” it went as it landed splitting a log and burying itself into the tree stump. It remained there standing up. The man was middle ageish and thin with black hair. Bit gaunt. He looked at us and said “small hands”. There’s a bird trapped between the floorboards of my shed. Think you can get him out”? We followed him through the open Allotment garden gate and up the path towards an old dark grey Shed at the top. On three sides were thick Hedges and on the other, on the right, a chain link fence grown over at the bottom with weeds. It made up the border between the Allotment and the main path. As we entered the Shed the light slowly faded down. We heard the Shed door creak and then close behind us. Then the click of a latch and the rub of a bolt. The man turned and said. “We’re going to play a little game. Sit on the floor” As we did I looked at Jay and he me. The man started to sort through a wooden tray box of stuff. Light came through a small window and I looked around the Shed. There was a long Table that I was now sitting under. Jay was curled up in the opposite corner. The man stood by the door. I could see all manner of sharp implements and tools on the walls. Large rusty course saw blades stood out. Silently the man began to tie Jay up. First he tied his hands and then his feet. Then he tied me. He used old ripped rags. As he tied my wrists I remembered an old Cowboy Film I had seen where the hero, in a similar predicament, had crossed his wrists over and on top of one another. Stacking them to cause the bind to be overly long. I did the same thing. The man tied my wrists and feet and smirked saying “quite loose that. Not at all tight. Alright”. Then he gagged us both with these horrible rags. And the gags were tight and smelly. Made you gag. As he turned to tackle Jay's clothing he stopped and looked back at me staring at him. He threw a coat over my head. I quickly managed to dislodge it. He looked at me again. Then went out of the Shed. As he did I turned my wrists over and wriggled my hands out of the bounds as quickly as I could. I pulled the gag off and untied my feet. Rushed to do the same with Jay before staggering, squinting out of the Shed door. I quickly scaled the chain link fence. I was well practiced at scaling chain link. Only way to get in to locked up Tennis Courts. Like a Marine up a scramble net I was. Sitting on the top avoiding the single line of barbed wire I could survey the whole scene. Jay suddenly stumbled out of the Shed door and scrambled up to me. He was shorter than I was. As I leaned down with my hand to reach his and pull him up I saw over the opposite hedge. A red and silver axe head bobbing along the top of it. Like a Shark fin on the ocean. The man was coming back. With an axe. ‘Nutter.’ I looked back at the Shed. Jay had left the Shed door open. ‘oh no’. When the man reaches the allotment gate he’ll see up to the Shed with its door open. Realise we’ve got out and nip around here and block our escape. Catch us! I took my hand away. With only half of my breathe but with my voices full fearful intensity I said, “go back. Shut the door”. Jay froze and looked at me panicked and perplexed. “Go back, shut the door”. I said again. He hesitated. I kept my hand high. Then he quickly dashed back and pushed the door to a close, turned and jumped up at me. I pulled him up and as he vaulted over the top his weight pulled me over the fence and we both fell and hit the ground on the other side. Just as the man rounded the corner and passed through the Allotment gate. Silently we lay on the hard path looking at him through the weeds and chain link. The man had the axe held high over his shoulder. Focused on the Shed door he trudged silently and solemnly towards it. Only he knew what he had in mind for us. We slowly backed up and sneaked away until we could break into a run and then we ran and we ran and we ran. Soon we ran out of breath and had to stop. Panting I lent on a front wall. I recognised the house I was looking at. It belonged to an Old Soldier. I had talked to him once of the 'Great War'. We needed help. I bashed on his door ignoring the bell and when he answered we poured out and over one another to tell our story, “We’ve been tied up”, “gagged”. “Look”. We showed our ties and the gags around our necks. “Yeah and he’s got an axe.” The Old Soldier stepped in his door and picked up the Phone then paused and put it down again. He gathered his Car keys and said “I’ll run you down to the Police Station”. He did too. What happened next is a matter of Police record. They told my Parents that we “had a very narrow escape”. I didn’t think about it though for years. We never became victims you see. It was just another kids scrape we got in and out of. I know Allotments are trendy but you couldn’t give me one. I’d be worrying what I might dig up?
Copyright Marcus Clarke 2011
|The Film. The Warhorse.
Took my eldest Son Billy to see the Film Warhorse. My Grandfather and his Great Grandfather was in the Cavalry at the outbreak of the Great War. I remember him showing me his medals from the Battle of the Somme too. He moved in an awkward way dictated by the shrapnel still inside him. He died in agony in the '70's from the cancers induced by the small amount of Mustard Gas that he had ingested. His own sides. ...
He was a brutally pragmatic man who's insensitivity caused a lot of problems in our family. My mother to run away from home at only 15 years of age and it was his idea to put me in an Orphanage, "less the child be spoilt." Some said he was more made that way than born. This film helped me see how that could be.
In my adolescence I had a school friend who was very well off. Well his parents were. They owned amusement arcades and night clubs in Nottingham. Had a Colour TV too. They were really nice people who were good to me and even took me on Holiday to Yarmouth with them. My Dad (Stepfather Bernard) had little time for them though. Said the father was a ‘black marketeer’ during the War. Bernard’s own Dad had been John 'Donny' Players Driver during the War, was with him when he was killed and like his brother Fred, Bernard had done long proud service in the Royal Navy. My Mother, who now lives in the Meadows’ Dad, Harry, had been at the Battle of the Somme, got gassed a bit too and her Brothers had all done service at El Alemein, Casino, D Day Malaya etc. So she sort of agreed. It troubled me this disparity between what I thought of my friends parents and what my parents thought of them. So one day in my friends Car I asked his father straight out if he’d really been in the Black Market during the War? This is how I remember his response. He said, “Marcus. I was at Dunkirk at 18 and got shot in the leg. As they passed me back down the line on a stretcher I saw a bunch of young lads in a trench being handed out anti-tank rifles. I always remember the look on their faces. Their faces." Why? I asked. "Because the rifles were useless and they knew it. And what was going to happen to them when the German Tanks arrived.” He continued. “I thought there and then. If they can do that to these young lads then up theirs. That’s it. I’ve had it with them!” So that was the answer I got. One that, thankfully, I didn’t understand for a very, very long time.
|Uncle Doug Died
My Uncle Doug died today. So he won't be going back to his little flat in the Meadows. He ran through El Alemein's smoke with his rifle and bayonet. Was gunned down and got up again. Landed at Anzio and climbed up Casino. Walked silently through a Concentration Camp. Met a brother in Germany who'd fought his way there from Normandy. I'll remember the funny faces painted on eggs. The laughter.
A few years ago I decided I had Cancer. I had no symptoms which was annoying. There was only one kind of Cancer in my Family that I knew of. My Grandfather had died of Lung Cancer in the ‘70’s. He had been gassed in WW1 though which was the probable cause. I had an Uncle who had also been diagnosed with Lung Cancer shortly after WW2. He had had a chunk of his lung cut out and went on to live another 50 years. Both had smoked as I had as a younger man and so when I had a cough that lasted more than 3 weeks, I decided that was it, I had lung Cancer. I promptly made an appointment with my Doctor. Typically the morning of the appointment my cough had gone. I kept the appointment anyway and there followed a bazaar conversation with my Doctor. Me “I’ve got Cancer”. Her “what are your symptoms”. Me, “haven’t got any really but, I get an itch on my head when the Sun shines. Probably Skin Cancer that”. “That’s an old scar” she said and "because your hairs thinning the Sun is irritating it". (Scar tissue is irritated by the Sun apparently). “OK” I said. “I have an itch right here in the middle of my chest where my shirt is open on sunny holidays. Bet that’s Skin Cancer”. "That’s a spot she replied". "I’ve had a twisted ankle for 3 months" I added not realising how stupid that sounded. She looked and paused. Then asked me if I had ever had a ‘well man’ test. “What’s that”? Answered the question. I then had a lot of tests which showed me to be in rude health apart from a slightly raised PSA. Prostate Specific Antigen. A biopsy was the norm and I duly went to the City Hospital for the procedure. What I didn’t expect a week later was a Prostate Cancer diagnosis. Frankly I had never considered myself to be mortal. Let alone thought that one day I could die. So this was a real shock. My wife Helena was with me and as ever was incredibly sensible and supportive. Of the options available we went for the one nearest to a cure. Surgical removal of my Prostate. I have a young family and so longevity is a priority. (It leaves you infertile). The Surgeon and team inspired masses of confidence though my coping mechanisms for my ADHD (that’s another story) fell apart a bit and I misunderstood some of the clinical information. I didn’t listen properly. My main concern from the outset was the Anesthetist and me not waking up from the Anesthetic. Something I told him just before I passed out on the day of the operation. I wondered why he had put that thing in my arm.
I had made my funeral arrangements just in case. Deciding on ‘The first time ever I saw your face’ by Roberta Flack as the Music. It being appropriate for all of my family. My wife Helena because the first time I saw her face was in a beautiful painting by her father. My Children of course as I was present at their births. (My Mother, who lives in the Meadows, probably wouldn’t come anyway as she finds funerals depressing).
Now my God is a busy God whom I try not to bother much. He answers my prayers simply and straightforwardly. He can be a bit off hand. But I had gone to St. Peters Church in the City and prayed. Asking him to look after my young family should the Anesthetist and the not waking up thing happen. After a long pause he had said, "don't worry I'm gonna let you live". In an amused and slightly off hand manner. As I left the Church he’d added, "be good". So I slept soundly.
I woke up from the operation just as Helena arrived at visitor's time and a few days later I was sent home. The excellent Surgical Team completely happy with their exploits. I had asked that nobody be told of my diagnosis or treatment. (I can’t stand people feeling sorry for me). Helena had obliged. Nobody suspected. I could have done without MRSA and the bad Urine infection that had me spending a few days hallucinating and shouting "fever, fever", like in some old Cowboy film but within a few weeks I was up. Within five weeks totally continent and soon back to almost normal. My excellent MP Chris Leslie helped me with Nottingham City Council’s relentless, persistent Council Tax demands for my sick period, even though I was signed off sick and on ESA. Soon though I was back to work. Editing together some Video footage and scriptwriting.
I went back to St. Peters Church to thank God. Again he replied saying, "no problem". I asked him if he wanted me to do anything for him. He said, "no, don't worry, have fun". As I rose from my knees I noticed some burning candles and a collection box. I said, "I could put a quid in here if you like" to which he replied, "don't have to". I put a quid in the box anyway and left. As I reached the door and pulled the handle he added again, "be good".
I have been clear now for nearly two years.
I haven’t got involved in any Prostate Cancer awareness activity. I would be happy to though when I’m next involved in any Marketing or Interviews. Should anyone be interested?
Oddly enough, an age ago, I spent several years working for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now a high profile prostectomy patient and Prostate Cancer sufferer.
How I seemed to know I had Cancer I cannot explain and I’ve had prayers to God answered in words as far back as I can remember. (Though not always). So I’ve no clarification to offer. My GP says her decision to give me tests was based on “instinct” and my Surgeons simply found it interesting.
Listen to yourself. Would be my only suggestion.
|EM Media Nottingham's former Regional Screen
Much more could have been achieved with the public funds made available had they been delivered inclusively. I tried to enable that through due process as is my social responsibility. It was the most demoralising, depressing and wasteful experience of my life.
|Just Ten nice
I Hear a Symphony, Diana Ross and the Supremes.
20th Century Boy, T. Rex.
I'll Be Your Mirror, Nico and the Velvet Underground.
Company, Rickie Lee Jones.
Come in from the cold, Joni Mitchell.
I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango) Grace Jones.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Roberta Flack.
Carmen Act 1 Seguidilla, Bizet
Don't go, please stay, the Drifters
Clown Song from Act V Scene I Shakepeare’s Twelfth Night.
Christmas Day 1963 found my 6-year-old self in the infirmary of my NCH Princess Alice Orphanage. I couldn’t see a thing. I had a nasty eye infection, which they called conjunctivitis, and so I was wearing thick blacked out goggles. I had to wear them at all times to stop me from scratching my itchy eyes and spreading the disease. The ward was noisy with children eagerly anticipating their Christmas present. We got one each. They were donated and then wrapped up and were distributed at random by Matron. She didn’t know what was inside. Marcus Clarke, Yes, resulted in a small package being dropped in my lap. I felt through the wrapping. It was long and thin with sticky-out bits at one end. I unwrapped it quickly and felt it properly. Exploring it with my hands I could tell it was hard plastic with one rounded pointy end and four fin like shapes sticking out at the other. It was a plastic Rocket! Christmas Rocket I called it. It was great. Christmas Rocket explored under the bedclothes flying through the crashing flannelet caverns only narrowly making it through. Christmas Rocket explored under the bed hanging from my dressing gown belt, down further into the space sea with splashing sound effects provided by my water jug, all the way to the sea bed and then up again. In and out of the iron tube bedstead chicane up and then down and crash into the big soft pillow of Saturn. Oh no! No damage but how to take off again. Half way along Christmas Rockets’ side I found a little lift door that clicked up and down. Out came the crew, (really my walking fingers.) How to get Christmas Rocket upright? One of the crew found an interstellar fishing net, (really just one of my socks), it had probably fallen off a passing Space Trawler. Or maybe had had to be jettisoned after getting snagged on Clipboard at bottom of bed. Phew. Lucky escape Space Trawler. They put it over the nosecone of Christmas Rocket and as some of the crew pulled it to bring Christmas Rocket upright others pushed the big soft pillow of Saturn under it until Christmas Rocket was standing totally upright and ready for take off again. Back in the side door for the crew, click and with another click, blast off. Boxing day my blacked out goggles came off. Guess what? The clicking lift door was in fact a switch; under the fins at the bottom of Christmas Rocket was glass, then silver and then a bulb. Christmas Rocket was a torch. It shone brightly! Wow and phew, amazing that in all of that time of me playing with it and not being able to see, that I hadn’t left it switched on and run the battery down. How lucky am I.
I like your stories, because they are very interesting and have a nice attention to detail. They contain all the signs of someone who is a writer.
The details, certainly in terms of observation (the character in the police station was interesting because of his observations and the potential for comedy in a very serious situation) make the stories so much more than a list of events that occurred.Elaine Aldred
Nottingham University Creative and Professional Writers.
All of this pages contents are the personal views and memories of Marcus Clarke.