childhood rebellion

Best friends

”What did you do at school today, pet?”

Angela flopped down on the chair, legs dangling, a frown spread across her face. Her mother put a glass of milk on the table in front of her. Angela looked at the glass, scowling.


Angela’s mother looked at her daughter. Ever since she had started school, she had loved it. Today was different. Angela wouldn’t look at her mum, instead staring intently at the glass on the table.

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Soul Olympics '88

We blazed through the neighbourhood like our afterlives depended on it. Ten events in an hour and the winners got to The Promised Land. They’d been hammering us with bible stories at school and punctuating them with updates from the games that were taking place after our bedtimes in South Korea. The two unrelated strands fused our imaginations into one robust and graceful movement, as ingeniously natural and revelatory as a Fosbury Flop.

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In Between Days

A crack, and everything changes. 

Miss Coakley appears in the window, a shrunken head framed by fizzes of grey-black hair. Behind her, the girls bob in unison, ponytails twisted on the top of their heads so you can’t tell who’s who.

Mike’s giggling with the sort of glee that bubbles into your words, climbing down to find more stones, and soon I can’t hear him, only the sharpness of that rock hitting the window. It sits in the dense quiet of an afternoon that is heavy with the weight of all the summer that has passed.

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Smells like teen spirit

I raced home as fast as my ugly Dolcis shoes would carry me, though the chunky heel, fashionable in the 90s, really impeded my speed. I had a mission: to prove my teacher wrong. Because if he was right, then the world was a terrible place. 

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Turning into trouble

I must have been six years old when I realised the world did not revolve around me. I was wandering past the Massey Ferguson depot in rural Suffolk. Why was I out on my own and unsupervised next to an 'A' road? Times were different, Mum was steaming about Dad going up to Town again. I was good at slipping out of the house unnoticed and much more adventurous than she appreciated. We moved out of the big house shortly after that, the villa on Mallorca was fine but that sojourn only lasted eighteen months.

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Scissor Sisters

People say objects live somewhere, as in ‘the cups live in the cupboard’ but Lucy felt that her dolls could never ‘live’ anywhere, not even as objects. Four dolls, each an unwelcome gift, but still she kept on being given them. 

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The Story of My Life

There was a time not long ago when I was young and free. Those were the days when your friends would come chap your door and ask you to come outside and explore the vast open world beneath your feet. But not all days were sunshine and roses. There were days when there was upset and distress. My very first friend was called Reece and my father always warned me of his bad influence, but I never listened. I never listened because my father treated me like I was young and dumb. He made me feel like he always knew best which made me continually rebel against his authority.

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Lassies Don't Make Baskets

Lassies don't make baskets, they clean and tidy up,
So go and wash the dishes, and dinnae chip the cups.
But I want to make a basket, I really want to learn,
You can teach me, I'm a quick learner, as you already ken.
You always say 4 hands are quicker than 2,
So if I was helping you make them, there'd be less work for you to do.
You sit out there for hours, in every kind of weather,
You don't have time to play with us or even have a blether.
My Granny said she'd taught you, you were very quick to learn,

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Owed to Billy Joe

Oor Billy, ma brither – or to gie him his full name William Joseph Lappin McChord – wis aye contrary. Fur instance, he hid convinced me tae support the Rangers. An me at the tender age ae nine tae. Despite being offert bribes in the form ae Celtic merchandise by ma auntie as a representative ae the rest ae the family, Billy ensured I held firm to ma new allegiance. Probably he wantit to git noticed, and he wis needin a few acolytes.  Luckily, I was turnt back in time tae enjoy watchin Celtic winnin the European Cup and Quizball oan the telly.  

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1968: Birth of my Rebellion

How long can I stand in the burn until my feet go numb? Too long. Better to keep throwing stones into the deep bit. Maybe I'll wake up a fish. I wonder where all this water comes from? Up that hill I suppose.

I can hear Daddy shouting my name. What does he want? It's probably breakfast time. But they can wait. They know I spend all day out here by the burn, exploring, filling up and emptying my aluminium coffee pot. There's so much to do; so many rocks to examine, so much sand to filter through my fingers, so much brown water that I can make clear by pouring through my pot.

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