TWO THINGS HAVE HAPPENED

Nannan’s dog Sandie keeps being sick, and my aunty’s gotten married. This means two other things.  Nannan has to keep washing the lino, and I’ve moved into the attic. The attic was Aunty Belinda’s room, and still has pictures of George Best on the wall. George sometimes has a beard in the pictures and sometimes not. In the pictures where he has a beard he looks like Chris. Chris is Mum’s boyfriend. Mum and Chris have gone to see Joe Cocker sing in Sheffield. Nannan says there’s a Dracula film on later. I like watching horror films with Nannan. When they get scary and someone has been bitten and fallen over, Nannan says things like Ooh, go and help her up, Billy, and Ooh, go and take her a plaster, Billy. This makes them not as scary, and makes me laugh. Nannan always makes bread and dripping and Marmite for the films, and sometimes we have crisps covered in red sauce. She makes shandy for us too, and sometimes I make them. Nannan showed me how to do them with half a glass of beer and half a glass of lemonade. You have to pour the lemonade in really slow, because if you don’t, it goes all frothy and tumbles over the sides... Before the film, Kojak is on. Nannan likes Kojak, and says one day she’s going to marry him. He has a bald shiny head and sucks lollypops all the time. Sometimes, Nannan says things to me that Kojak says, like Who luvs ya, baby?  Nannan likes Christopher Lee too. He’s Dracula, and she says he can bite her any day of the week... After tea we watch It’s a Knockout, which is really funny when they play football in big costumes with giant heads, but then Sandie is sick under Nannan’s chair. The sick is bright yellow and smells like our dustbin when it’s sunny. Then Sandie goes around the room bending his back like he’s folding himself in half, making burping noises in his belly. More little bits of sick keep coming out so Nannan shoos him outside into the yard. I don’t like the smell of Sandie’s sick so I go upstairs till it’s gone. Walking up our stairs I can still hear Nannan saying Bloody dog. Mum said Sandie should to go to the vet, but Nannan said Where’s the money coming from?... Upstairs in my new bedroom, I move the little desk from the side of Aunty Belinda’s old bed, which is now my bed, and I put it under the window. The window is high up on the slanty ceiling so I have to stand on the desk to see out. I open the window and look down into the yard to try and see Sandie but I can’t because it’s too dark. The yard has an oblong of yellowy light from our window and a darker one from next-door’s. We did about oblongs at school, so I know they aren’t squares. All I can see is the washing line with some pegs on it like a cannibal necklace made of teeth, and the girl next-door’s bike leaning against their wall. I don’t think the boy has a bike. Sometimes, when me and Nannan are watching the Saturday night horror film, they start shouting next-door, and sometimes Nannan puts her ear to the wall to listen. Sometimes she doesn’t need to put her ear to the wall because they’re so loud. When this happens Nannan shakes her head and says Bloody booze... Out of my window I can see across Chesterfield. It’s all lit up, and I can see the Post Office clock, the Crooked Spire, and a double-decker bus moving quiet to where the park is. This is the best thing about my new bedroom. Sometimes at night I play spaceships, and I pretend the streetlamps are stars, and I’m in a spaceship, and the arm thing that holds the window open is the steering lever, the holes in it the buttons for speed, and Captain Billy zooms through the universe, where no man has been before, and I laser alien spaceships to bits with just one shot, sometimes two... I get down from my new desk and move it back to my bed. I look at the pictures of George Best, and I think about Mum. She was wearing her best dress and hat tonight and she smelt like flowers. I miss sleeping with Mum now I’m in the attic. She used to give me little presents to open while I turned to the wall so she could put her pyjamas on. My favourite present was a green plastic ray-gun with a silver trigger. When you pulled it, little yellow sparks lit up inside the gun and it made a revving sound like a little motorbike. I took it to school one day and Kelvin Oldfield stamped on it and broke it. I hate Kelvin Oldfield. He’s fat, and has a nose like a pig. He smells of sour milk and he says things like You don’t have a dad... I look up at George Best and I don’t want him there. This is my room now, and Aunty Belinda doesn’t live here anymore so she won’t tell me off. I stand on the desk and start pulling the drawing pins out with my fingernails. In this picture, George is smiling. He’s got a beard and he’s wearing a Man U shirt with a little devil on it. I hold the other pins in my hand while I push my nails under the last pin. It’s stiff but it comes out with a hard pull. George slides down the wall and I fall backwards. I hit the floor with a bump, landing on my bum. Inside my head is a little flash, and in my hands a sting. I stand up and open my hands to see red blood marks where the pins have stuck in. I put the pins on the desk and look at the tiny holes in the middle of each hand. I make myself not cry, and the sound of Sandie howling outside makes me look up to the window where one star shines brighter than all the rest.

 

4. While five grown-ups sit at the scratched dinner table

2. Halfway up the street

 
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