December 15, 2007

Merry Christmas Everybody

Welcome to my hundredth post - and a Hippy Christmas to all my readers.

I'm leaking 'Poem' of theMonth here - it's an extract from my finally imminent first novel. It will appear on the proper Poem of the Month slot on the main website when I can manage to persuade my webmaster to do it for me. He is an angel of the web but he does insist on having a life and a proper high-powered legal career separate from enacting my every whim. Hence the intolerable delay. Anyway, here it is-

Chapter Six

No Future

Yours was the kiss that awoke my heart.
It lingers still though we’re far apart.

Christmas 1973. ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ by Slade hung like cheap ‘n’ cheerful tinsel in the air. Young Megan came in to the sixth form common room wearing a short, fashionable winter shirt and a mohair cardigan. She got up on a chair to fix up mistletoe. Young Dafydd sat nearby in a scruffy jacket and flared trousers, his hair as hippily long as he could get his parents to accept: never long enough though actually much longer than he realised. His Lennon specs glinted as he pored over some history books.
“I knew there was something missing when I put this lot up,” said Young Megan. “Dafydd?” Dafydd was absorbed in his books. “Dafydd! Are you going to give me a hand or not?”
“Sorry – yeah.”
“Well come on!”
He joined her on the chair. Giggling, they eventually managed to attach the mistletoe she held up.
He coughed. “Megan, are you coming to the school Christmas dance?”
It had taken him three years but he had finally asked her.
She looked at him. A teacher came in. Miss Winterbottom.
“What on earth are you doing?” The teacher kicked at the mess on the floor.
“Christmas decorations, Miss Winterbottom!”
“Get down at once the pair of you! Megan, you’re to see the Head of Sixth immediately. About your appalling exam results.”
Megan made for the door. “See you later … gorgeous.”
The teacher frowned, “What?
“I wasn’t talking to you, Miss.”
Miss Winterbottom followed her out. Over her shoulder she rasped, “Dafydd, I want these decorations taken down immediately.”
“But it’s Christmas!”
“It is also the last day of term. Clear them.”
Young Dafydd, left alone, rebelled briefly, by doing nothing. Then petulantly started to tear down the decorations. He paused under the mistletoe. It was one of those moments when time seems to stand still…
“You again! The new boy from the Taff valley is it? Has anyone shown you the ropes?”
“You showed him before, Sir.”
“I mean, has a pupil?
“No sir.”
“I’m in detention.”
“Yeah what?”
“Yeah, I’ll show him the ropes-”
Young Megan came back in. She walked angrily to her desk and packed the decorations that Dafydd had taken down into her bag.
“What’s the matter Megan?”
“I’m leaving.”
The world shuddered on its axis. “No!”
“What are you so bothered about?”
“You can’t go!”
“Why not?”
“Because … It’s not a matter of ‘Why not?’ It’s a matter of why for God’s sake.”
“Because I’m ‘not academically suited and I have the wrong attitude’.”
Young Megan translated. “I’m thick and I’m rude.”
“Yeah, but …”
“Oh Dafydd, I did well to get this far. My old man says I’d never even have passed the 11 plus in his day. And here I am trying to do ‘A’ levels. Even Miss Millington said yesterday that I would be better advised to concentrate on schoolwork instead of ‘Other Activities’.”
“Other Activities?”
“Sex. And I’m so fed up with not having any money. Brian says, I could be a manageress in a year or two, instead of doing checkout shifts for sod all.”
Dafydd stopped clearing the decorations. “Who’s Brian?”
“The Personnel Manager.”
“That’s the one who got me the sack. Called me a moron.”
“They don’t give you the sack here though, do they? And they say I’m a bad influence on you. You, so they tell me, are University material.”
“That’s what they tell me too. If I ‘apply myself’ and if I make my application to a Welsh University. Sod that.”
“Because you can get into a Welsh University easier if you’re Welsh, so they say.”
“No. Why ‘sod it’.”
“Because I am going to apply to a University that is as far away from here as possible.”
“Oh.” It wasn’t the answer she wanted. She picked up her bag and purse. “I’ve got to go. Brian’s picking me up at one o’clock. Here’s that pound you wanted to borrow for lunch. Don’t spend it on fags again.”
He panicked. “You can’t go yet.” They looked at each other for a reason why not. “What about these decorations?”
They began removing the decorations. Dafydd laughed wryly. “Do you remember when you used to sell snogs for fags?”
“Yeah! I didn’t have any money then.”
“I never had any fags either.” He paused. “You did that for love, not money!”
She stroked his cheek. “Maybe.”
“When shall I give you this quid back? Will you be at the school dance?”
“Give it back to me when you’re rich.”
“Do you really have to go? You might do well at ‘A’ level?”
“No Dafydd. It’s Sainsbury’s for me. The clubs. The lads. Chance of making a bit of money. You’ve got your sights on higher things. University History, Geography. That is what you want isn’t it?”
He sighed, “I suppose so.”
“Well, are you going to take that mistletoe down?”
“Good.” She got up. “Come over here.”
He crossed to her, suddenly terrified. “Ok, but look, I won’t be able to do this as good as usual. I’ve got a crick in me neck.”
She kissed him skilfully, her hair redolent of last night’s perfume. His arms appeared bolted to his sides. And Time stood still again….
“Don’t worry. I came here late too. From the rough school on the valley estate. And look at me!”
“The rough school?”
“Millstone Colliery Secondary Modern. I’m a Modern Girl.” Megan smiled at Dafydd again….
“Something to remember me by,” she murmured, and was gone.

Because time never does stand still really. Dafydd came to, looking around, still feeling her back under the soft cardigan in his fingertips. And still feeling the spines of the Edwardian radiator in his back. The winter sunset was turning the room red.“ Megan?” He started towards the door.
Ramo came in. “What’s up?”
“Nothing. I was just … looking for someone.”

(from the forthcoming Bluechrome novel, River Deep Mountain High, by Gareth Calway c.2007.)

Oh and if you get the chance, listen to the proper Phil Spector produced version of that title by Ike and Tina. Everyone knows Ike treated Tina abusively. Few seem to know he saw his father killed by a white mob at the age of eight. I wish I could hear it as the musical version of a happy marriage. It clearly wasn't, but that song rocks -there was a marriage of sound certainly - and there wasn't much rock before Ike and his ilk. There was Bill Haley but we needed Ike (and then Tina) - so let's hope ths song gets him a bit of remission.

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