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Skiffle Sister

Ruby had a plan. She had waited an’ waited for news of the school concert, but the exams had jist feenished an’ the posters were up at last. The Music Club aye closed the first hauf, so they didnae have tae audition an’ get a riddy – but anither obstacle stood in Ruby’s wey: Peter Paterson (‘the Perfect Prefect’).  

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Smart as Paint

I am expressing my creativity
With the odds and sods of paint left in tins
from the hall cupboard of our council flat. 

“Let her be” says my father,
calm and confident of his daughter’s
teenage wisdom.

“That woodchip didn’t come free in the post you know”
My mother confirms.
She rolls pastry and the pins in her hair rollers bob
as she shakes her head.

“Magnolia is fine and fresh,
If she just took those stupid posters doon…”
The lid of an apple pie is jabbed with a fork.

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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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So You're the Rebel?

'So you're the rebel?'

It's a question that is often asked of me.

I don't know what they want me to say. That's their word, not mine.

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Something altogether different

Something altogether different

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Something Ladylike

Prom was a week away and, to my deepest surprise, I was excited. 

“Are you ready?”

My question was posed from behind the door. I rushed through it and into the living room, without bothering to wait for a response. Mum was curled up on our faded old sofa, wrapped up in a shawl despite already being by the fire, nursing a cup of tea and a slice of shortbread. I’d caught her engrossed in one of her dull antique programmes. She reluctantly muted it at my arrival, patting around half-heartedly in search of her glasses, keeping her eyes on the screen. 

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Sometimes I steal food

Warning: this piece contains strong language

Of course, not in restaurants or supermarkets. I just eat food I'm not supposed to.

From my flatmates, mainly. It could be a small piece of carrot cake. A banana. A
frozen hamburger. I can’t remember when I started but I know for sure that I
can’t stop. The adrenaline keeps me going. For an even more pleasurable
experience, I do it when people are next door and could come in any minute.
Heaven on earth, believe me.

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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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Spiralling down in paradise

Warning: this piece contains strong language

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St Patrick's Day

“You’re looking sharp, Graham.”

“You too, Alastair. Boomtown’s bouncing tonight.”

“G, I, double BB, Y. Stevie Wonder, rolling thunder.”

“I’ve booked the taxi, Graham. Half eleven. The Cav should be rocking. Get the Guinness in, two pots! Here’s a little number to get you out your seats. Jump around, jump up, jump up and get down.”

“Careful, you’re spilling the dark stuff, Graham. Less to go down our necks.”

“Hiya Karen – Yvonne, budge up.”

“Yeah, lads, squeeze in. How goes it?”

“Good, the night is young!”

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