"Recalcitrant, defiant, rebellious, miscreant"

Eleanor cowers from her mother's rant

Blinding tears mask the descending hand

Endlessly flinching as each slap strikes home

Love and care don't live in this cold home.

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Jenny's Well

I didn’t have room. Not with my sandwiches, fruit gums, bag of Salt ‘N' Shake and bottle of orange squash.

The new jersey was all thick and scratchy, knitted with sickly green Arran wool. Night after night Mam’s needles kept clicking. Every now and then, she would measure it against my back. She sewed it up, the chunky needle flying back and forth, back and forth as she watched Coronation Street.

Sunbeams were bouncing off the pavements. It would weigh me down.

But nobody argued with Mam.

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Do I look like a rebel?

I am looking through family photos and here I am at 4 years old. I think it was taken by a street photographer.  Do you remember them? They used to pop up on piers and beaches. I’m looking mighty suspicious.  I’m on a little donkey. The kind that moves backwards and forwards when the coin goes in. My grandpa and grandma are in the photo too. I’m wide eyed and looking out cautiously from under my fringe.  My jaw is set in a manner which matches my eyes, watchful, quizzical, timid. I do not look bold. 

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Galileo's Boy

The knife? It was right there on the table. But it wasn’t my fault. It took me years to make the cut.

It was my mum you see. She wanted us to be that wee bit better than everybody else. We had the end block in the terrace, nice garden, and our dad was always in work. A decent, hard-working family in a nice wee council scheme in the country: idyllic you’d think.

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The following day was my birthday. I would be five. Daddy had said that, as I was now a big girl he had decided I was old enough to get a very special present. I wondered what on earth it could possibly be. I thought and thought. I loved my dolls and the miniature cot that Dad had made for me. I neither needed nor wanted another doll. Mummy let me use the pretty little china tea set that had been hers when she was little and my cousin had given me her dolls' pram.

What could it be?

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Full of Beans

“It was me!” I said.

My six cousins gasped as one, my mother blanched and my father glowered. Until then, this first holiday had been an adventure. There was all the excitement and novelty of the sleeper train from Scotland to King’s Cross and a train to Cirencester, to spend a fortnight with my aunt and uncle and their brood. In glorious sunshine, I paddled and guddled in the river, built shelters and careered about on an old bike.

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childhood, stealing

Rebellion Begins at Home

In any family each generation throws up a rebel, someone who breaks the conventions of their tribe, who shows them a different way to live. And so it was with my sister.

Diane decided to be a rebel at the age of three. By then she was no longer the youngest child. An older brother, an even older sister and now a younger sister (me) meant she was fated to be that ‘middle child’ – a boring title with no joy in it. So she determined to be not middle, not eldest, not only boy, not youngest, but rebel – she would make her mark.

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rebel, family, sister, childhood