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Found on the shores of The West Midlands. The Coventry Conch tells the tale of a young girl's experience growing up in Coventry in the 1990's.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

THE FUNERAL


2pm

Dad’s turned the taps on in the bathroom so we can’t hear him sobbing. He’s been in there for over an hour.

Jenny knocks on the door.

‘Dad, please come out, we need to talk about the funeral arrangements.’

Dad flushes the toilet, sobs a bit more then finally opens the bathroom door. Me and Jenny give him a big fat hug.

Yesterday our cat Tosca died.

2.30pm

From Mum and Dad’s bedroom window I watch Dad digging a big hole at the end of the garden. Carol from next door is pretending to check if her washing is dry, but I knows she’s just trying to see what Dad’s up to. Carol’s been dead nosey lately and I keep having to spy on her to see when she’s spying on us.

Dad’s been the saddest out of everyone about Tosca dying; I think she was probably Dad’s best friend. When he’s had a bad day at work he comes in and slags his boss off to Tosca while she sits on his lap purring her head off.

After a bit Dad stops digging and starts crying again. Mum comes out and strokes his back while Carol checks the same damp bra for the hundred millionth time.

I stare into the mirror in Mum and Dad’s room and start crying too. I watch the tears roll down my face while I think about Tosca, then I think about Tom and wether he’d fancy me if he saw how sparkly my eyes look when I cry.

3.00pm

I walk out into the garden, Dad’s nearly finished digging the hole. Carol shouts over the fence ‘You better make it deep otherwise the foxes will tear her to pieces’.

Dad shouts back, ‘Yeah, cheers Carol!’ Then whispers ‘You daft bint’.

Dad wants us all to wear black for the funeral to show our repect. Me and Jenny look in our room for stuff for black stuff. Jenny finds a black Kappa Tracksuit in a bag of old stuff our cousin Leanne gave us and I put on the outfit I wore when I was a goth for the day a few weeks ago.

3.30pm

In the garden Mum, Dad and Josh are already stood by Tosca’s grave. Dad’s wearing the suit he bought for Aunty Mandy’s wedding, Mum’s wearing a leather skirt and her black Bon Jovi t-shirt, and Josh is wearing his batman costume.

We all talk about our memories of Tosca for a bit. Jenny talks about the time Tosca got trapped in Carol’s house and pooed in her kitchen. Then Dad talks about when she was a kitten and followed him all the way to the Chip Shop. He had to put her in his inside jacket pocket while he ordered, and her little furry face kept popping out to sniff the fish.

Josh says, ‘Remember when she ate the hamsters?’ Mum tells him it’s not the right time to remember that story. Jenny reads a poem she wrote for Tosca and Mum says The Lord's Prayer.

I give Tosca one last stroke and tell her how much I love her, then Dad puts her in the hole and starts to cover her up with soil.

Josh keeps asking Dad all sorts of stupid questions like, ‘When can we dig her up again?’ I don’t think he gets things being dead yet.

4.00pm

We hear somebody trying to get in through the back gate. It’s Grandad! He swears his head off until he eventually opens it with a massive kick.

‘Bloody hell! Why didn’t you answer the front door? I was stood out there banging me arse off, until that miserable neighbour of yours told me you were having some sort of séance out ere’.

Grandad looks at Dad.

‘You got a court appearance or summit? I’d bang you up for wearing that baggy arsed suit alone.’

Jenny shouts at Grandad, ‘Tosca’s dead this is her funeral, now please show some respect!!!’

Grandad looks at mum, ‘Are you going to let her speak to her Grandad like that?’

Mum says, ‘She’s right Dad, now show some respect or piss off home’

Grandad goes red and looks really angry, but keeps his mouth shut for a bit.

I remember that I invited Nanny Pam to the funeral this morning, and she said she might come round for the wake after her shift on the fag counter. I secretly hope she can’t make it now that Grandad’s come round, I can’t be arsed with those two going at each other today.

4.30pm

Mum’s done a picky tea for Tosca’s wake. Grandad grabs a scotch egg and stuffs it into his face while he sits on the sofa and reads TV Quick. He gets little orange bits all over the pages and bits of grey meat and yellow egg come out of his mouth when he starts talking.

‘Repeat..repeat…seen it on pirate…that Lovejoy’s a smug prick…bloody national lottery! I had a fiver on and won eff all…repeat…now I’d like to go inside Linda Barker’s Changing Room…Noel Fuckin’ Edmonds…

 I can hear Nanny Pam’s heels clip clopping down our road and go to open the door.

‘Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry, you loved that cat didn’t you?’

Grandad shouts from the sofa, ‘Come for the free food have you Pammy?’

‘Don’t you start! I’ve had the day from hell! Maeve rang in sick this morning and someone tripped up on a pack of Camel Lights when I was doing the re-stock, said they’re gonna sue! So I don’t need you giving me jip n’all!

‘Alright calm down woman! You’re at a funeral you know, show some respect!’

Grandad winks at Jenny and she gives him one of her killer evils.

Nanny Pam sits down on the opposite side of the sofa to Grandad and I sit in the middle. Grandad picks off and eats a bit of Scotch Egg that was stuck to Anneka Rices's face, on the front cover of TV Quick, it leaves a a greasy mark on her cheek. Nanny Pam calls him a dirty pig under her breath.

I look over at the armchair Tosca used to sit in and start crying again. Sometimes she’d leave bits of dead birds on it, but that’s just nature, so I didn’t mind.

Nanny Pam hugs me, then Grandad wipes his  fingers on the side of the sofa and shuffles up to hug me too. Nanny Pam wriggles out the way when Grandad tries to put his arms round her as well. Nanny Pam's perfume mixes with Grandad's eggy fag breath, it makes me feel a bit sick so I slip down and off the sofa, leaving those two to jump back to opposite sides.

It’s getting dark and I walk to the end of the Garden where Dad is on his knees next to Tosca’s grave lighting candles. I kneel down next to him.

‘Are you ok Dad?’

‘I loved that cat’.





My Dad inspired this post a few weeks ago when, after a few beers he asked me if I’d be interested in breaking into our old house and sneaking into the garden with him. He wanted to exhume Tosca’s remains and repatriate her to his new garden. Mum talked him out of it, and Dad saying he’d ‘even ask the new owners permission’ didn’t seem to convince her for some reason.

I'd have loved to of seen the look on Carol's face!




Wednesday, 28 June 2017

SPORTS DAY


7.30am

I wake up, open my eyes, remember it’s sports day, and shut them again. Sports day is the worst day of the year and I’m not even allowed to skive because Mum got a letter home last week about me having too much time off school.

I sit up in bed, look at my Hi-Tec trainers in the corner of the room and think fuck this! I’ve been swearing quite a bit in my head lately, I think it’s because I’ve been hanging around with Tasha more. The other day I accidently swore out loud in front of Mum and she made me say sorry to God.

Eventually I get out of bed and put my kit on. My cousin Leanne's old puma shorts, the fake England shirt Grandad gave me and my rubbish trainers.

When I get downstairs Jenny and Josh are already having breakfast. All they’ve left me from the selection box is Cornflakes! They’re having a mega mix of honey Nut Loops and Coco Pops. I tell them that I need the extra energy today, and try to shove my spoon in their bowls, but Jenny puts her hand over hers, and Josh spits in his.

In the kitchen, Mum lets me smash a Kit Kat up in my Cornflakes to make them taste a bit better. While I eat them, she strokes my hair and says, ‘Nanny Pam will be there cheering you on today Hol! You can only do your best. Just remember it’s not in your genetics to be good at sport. I couldn’t even do a forward roll until I was twenty-five, and that was by accident one night in The Pink Parrot!’

8.15am

I walk round to Amy’s before school. Amy hates Sports Day just as much as I do, but at least we have a plan this year. We both got picked to do the 200m race and so neither of us come last on our own, we’re going to run at the same time as each other, crossing the finish line last, together.

When I get to Amy’s, Aunty Karen answers the door.

‘Hi Love. Look at you all ready for sports day. Poor Amy can’t come because she’s got a nasty tummy bug!’

I can feel myself getting really hot and angry, but say to Aunty Karen dead nicely, ‘Really she was absolutely fine at school yesterday can I go up and see her?’

‘Yeah go on then, you might cheer her up a bit, poor thing’

 I open Amy’s door really quietly and watch her for a bit, she’s sat up in bed watching The Big breakfast and eating Frosted Shreddies. When she notices me she starts coughing and says in a croaky voice ‘Hi Hol’.

‘Thought you had a tummy bug not a cough.’

‘I’ve got both!’

I think about which way to do this and decide to start by begging and if that doesn’t work use force.

‘Amy please come, I need you, please, please, please! I’m going to come last and look like a right loser in front of Tom, please…’

‘I would Hol, I actually really wanted to come, but I’m really ill!’

‘Yeah right, chinny chin chin!’

I go up to Amy’s bed and pull the duvet off her.

‘You have to come, we promised! Get up!’

‘Muuuuuuuuummm!’

I let go of the duvet and Amy grabs it back. Then I say something really lame that I heard on Saved By The Bell.

‘This Friendship is void!’

I kick the door open and monster stomp down the stairs. Aunty Karen asks me if I’m ok as I walk out of the front door, I tell her Amy’s nearly finished her Shreddies and seems to be A LOT better!

9.00am

When I get to school, Sammy and some other girls from my class are stood in the playground doing stretches to show off in front of Tom and the boys. Sammy’s got new Nike Air Max’s and Addidas Poppers on.

10.00am

Nanny Pam and Maeve have come to watch me and I'm allowed to sit with them on the field until I'm called up. Maeve starts telling one of her daft stories about how she used to run for the County until her boobs got too big and she couldn’t afford to keep buying gaffa tape.

It’s the boys 100m race first, Sammy screams her head off for Tom to win. I pretend not to watch and try to concentrate on Maeve talking about her boobs instead.

 ‘Of course, my Graham loves it, he buries his head in them for hours some nights. But when I saw that Sally Gunnel opening the new Tesco the other day, I thought it could have been me cutting that ribbon...’

I look over at the start line. Mr. Haywood says ‘On your marks, get set, go!’ Kevin and Tom get out in front straight away. I turn back to Maeve.

‘I can just about squeeze into a H cup now, but it’s a two man job…’

I look back over at the race. Kevin’s in the lead with Mark second, I look for Tom but he’s way back at the start line, lying on the grass with his head in his hands and his Mum’s stood next to him.  Sammy’s started screaming for Kevin to win.

Mr. Haywood announces Kevin as the winner then tells us all to check our shoelaces are tied properly because he doesn’t want any more accidents like Tom’s!

I feel really sorry for Tom, but when I bend down to check my shoelaces I think it doesn’t matter if I come last now because Tom did too!

11.00am

From the start line, I watch Maeve being told to put her fag out by Mrs. Woods, Tom arguing with his Mum about his laces and Nanny Pam giving me a big fat double thumbs up!

Mr. Haywood says, ‘On your marks, get set, go’ and I go for it.

I come second from last, but Nanny Pam and Maeve run up to me screaming like I’ve won gold at the Olympics! Nanny Pam gives me a big fat hug and I look over her shoulder at Tom who is still sulking next to his Mum. I think that I fancy him a little bit less today.

3.30pm

On my way back from school, I call in at Amy’s.

I open Amy’s bedroom door really quietly, she’s sat on her bed watching Round The Twist and is eating Golden Drummers with chips and beans.

I say, ‘Hi’

‘Hi’

‘Are you my friend?’

‘Yeah!’

Then she lets me sit on her bed and have a Golden drummer dipped in bean juice, while I tell her all about how I totally smashed sports day.



Sunday, 9 April 2017

AUNTY MANDY



4pm

Aunty Mandy has come to stay with us for a few days. She’s fallen out with Uncle Simon again!

Aunty Mandy has been sleeping at ours a lot over the last few months. I secretly love it when she rings up crying her eyes out asking if she can stay again. She’s really fun and I’ve been learning loads about her that I didn’t know before like:


1.     Aunty Mandy loves reading. By her bed she has loads of books like Love on Death Row, Sexy Psychopaths and Married to a Monster.

2.     Apart from Nanny Pam, Aunty Mandy is the only person I know who watches Channel Five. Sometimes I sneak into her room when everyone’s gone to bed and we watch documentaries. Last night we watched one about dead pets that come back and haunt their owners.

3.     Aunty Mandy never puts the big light on. She sleeps in Josh’s room when she comes to stay and lights loads of candles. She says its better Fung Shay, but I think it’s because she doesn’t like the Power Rangers on Josh’s duvet.


Mum’s in the kitchen washing up, I’m sat on the side eating a packet of Jaffa Cakes. I bite the disgusting jelly bits off first, hold my nose, and swallow them whole so I can enjoy the rest of them.

I ask mum, ‘Why’s Aunty Mandy fallen out with Uncle Simon again?’

'Oh I don’t know Hol, and don’t go asking her, she needs some space so just leave her alone tonight, yeah?;

4.10pm

I’m sat at the end of Aunty Mandy’s bed finishing off the Jaffa Cakes. I think about what to say for a bit, but I don’t want there to be a big fat elephant in the room so I just ask her.

‘Why did you fall out with Uncle Simon this time?’

‘We didn’t really fall out Hol. Si doesn’t know how to fall out. Whenever I try and have a row with him he just shuts himself in the spare room with his model cruise ships and whistles the Big Break theme tune until I stop shouting. He’s just really REALLY boring and I’m really REALLY bored!’


5pm

Aunty Mandy’s teaching me how to make your face look really tanned with loads of make-up, when the doorbell goes. It’s Uncle Simon.

We can hear Uncle Simon in the porch talking to mum. ‘It’s got warm again. I didn’t know whether to wear my jacket today because it was a bit nippy this morning, so I wore it anyway and just took it off when it got a bit warmer.’

Aunty Mandy gets into bed and puts her head under the Power Rangers duvet.
I ask her if she’s ok and she muffles, ‘Tell him to fuck off. No, wait tell him I’m really ill with a tummy bug, yeah tell him that, he hates tummy bugs!’

5.30pm

Uncle Simon’s in the garden having a cup of tea with Dad. Dad thinks Uncle Simon is really boring too and usually when Uncle Simon comes round Dad says he’s got to fix something in the garage. There are no tools to fix anything in the garage, just a thousand bikes, a manky old tent and everything that has ever broken in our house. Last time I went to look for Dad when Uncle Simon was round and he was sat on a broken exercise bike reading his Viz magazine.

I walk up to Uncle Simon and tell him that Aunty Mandy has a tummy bug and can’t be more than a meter away from the bog, which means she can’t see him.

Uncle Simon says, ‘Oh dear, yeah I’ll steer clear of that one. I hate tummy bugs last time I got one I had to move back in with my mother because she’s got a more powerful cistern. You have to wait for ours to refill, which is a nightmare if you need a double flush.’

Dad asks me if I’ve been painting a fence because my face is covered in Ron Seal, I tell him ‘Its Desert Island Mystique Bronzer by Avon actually!!’

I think Dad must feel sorry for Uncle Simon today because he hasn’t gone to the garage yet and he even asks Uncle Simon about football, which he hates!

‘Did you see the football?’

‘Which Game?’

‘I don’t know.’

Then we sit in silence for a bit


6.15pm

After a while Uncle Simon starts telling Dad about how he’s decided that he still doesn’t like tomatoes because he had a BLT at the Beefeater on Tuesday night and it had a tomato in and he didn’t like it.

Dad says that he’s got to fix something in the garage.

6.20pm

Mum comes out to the garden with another cup of tea for Uncle Simon and one of the dodgy boxes of chocolates Grandad gave us for Christmas. There are no menu cards and when me and Jenny ate a box only two were nice, the rest of them taste like dog chocolate. There are still twenty-six boxes under Mum’s bed, so anytime someone comes round she tries to get rid of a few.

Mum holds the box while Uncle Simon chooses. He points at one and says, ‘What’s this one?’

‘I don’t know Si.

‘This one?’

‘I don’t know Si.’

‘And this one?’

‘I don’t know Si there’s no menu card so you just have to guess.’

‘Does this one have nuts in?’

‘Listen Si I think Mandy needs to rest up, so maybe come back tomorrow yeah, you can take the whole box with you if you like.’

Uncle Simon gets up to go,  ‘hhhhmm jacket on or off.’

Mum says ‘fuckin’ ell’ really quietly to herself.


7pm


I go up to Josh’s room with a box of Grandad’s chocolates. Aunty Mandy’s in bed with all her candles on, half watching a documentary on Channel Five about naked neighbors and half reading a book called I Killed For The One… Again. We try and find the nice chocolates by biting a bit of each one, and I talk about the time I thought I saw Carol next door gardening naked but she was just wearing beige trousers.