Obscenity

alpine-1325195_960_7201Did you wonder what I’ve done now when you saw the above title?

Surprisingly I managed to reload the “Solemn Curfew” collection without a hitch despite being a bit distracted at the moment. My dearly loved god mother passed away recently and left me her books, all 4000 of them. I defy anyone to behave in a normal and rational fashion when faced with that many books. And these aren’t paper backs, they are a life time of careful and considered collecting. They arrive next Thursdays – there maybe demands for walls to be demolished to make room.

However, back to the obscenity of the title. This is another story about my grandmother. Whatever else could be said of her, and there is much which could be said, she was never boring.

Obscenity

To Mother it was an idea of genius, but my ten year old self was filled with consternation. And, glancing up at my father and seeing the expression of horror on his face and the droop of the cigarette permanently glued to his lip, I guessed I was not alone.

“She’ll enjoy it,” Mother stated firmly, “And yes, you do both have to come! It’s going to be our birthday present to her.”

Gifts for my grandmother were a source of anxiety for my mother. The wish to delight a mother-in-law who although difficult, tactless, obstinate and opinionated, was also generous and loving, taxed her imagination and worried her.

I had already worked out Gran’s needs were few and her tastes ran towards the sentimental and the tacky, but to my mother, convent educated with exquisite taste and beautiful manners, Gran was a mystery.

I watched her try and balance her own need for refinement against Gran’s delight in china poodles, crocheted toilet roll covers and pictures of children with huge sad eyes accompanied by a dog of equally melancholic attitude.

This year Mother was triumphant, she had come up with the perfect solution; we would take Gran to see a film. Not just any old film, but an all singing, all dancing block buster of sugary sentiment and sweet mawkishness which must appeal to the owner of all those doggy ornaments.

Father protested and I sulked, but Mother was not listening, the night was going to be the perfect treat for one unpredictable old lady and like it or not, we were going to be there to see her enjoyment and Mother’s victory.

Young as I was, I could smell the whiff of danger even as we left the house.

My worst fears were confirmed when we got to Gran’s house and she was sitting primly in her chair wearing her duty outfit, the one reserved for attending such functions as funerals and visits to her solicitor. Her best black coat was buttoned to the neck, her hands were gloved and she was wearing her “going out” lipstick, a shade of red just past pillar box.

Seated beside me in the back of Father’s car, her “good” hand bag firmly clamped to her knees she fixed the back of Mother’s head with a basilisk stare.

“I have not been to a picture house since 1939,” she announced in arctic tones.

“Good God,” Mother ejaculated, startled into giving Gran an opening, “Why not?”

“I had no desire to see war news,” she replied, “Nor the sort of silly film they thought proper for us ignorant people.”

I watched mother stiffen. Gran was uneducated, forced to leave school at the age eleven to work in the Nottingham lace mills, but she was not ignorant, far from it, but claiming to be so was one of her greatest weapons in the game of being difficult.

“That was a long time ago,” Mother said, brightly, “You’ll find it’s all very different now and I’m sure you’ll like this film. It’s in colour you know.”

All this revelation got was a sniff.

“You must have heard of it,” Mother continued, by now assailed with doubts.

“I have,” Gran admitted, “Lilly was speaking about it. She’s seen it five times.”

I chanced a sideways look at her face and caught a hint of anticipation on her face. She was intrigued; her best friend and closest rival Mrs Rhodes had seen the film and while I would have bet my sixpence pocket money Gran hadn’t allowed her to gossip about it as much as she would have liked, sufficient information had been imparted to convince Gran she might be missing something.

Perhaps this hadn’t been such a very bad idea after all.

I knew I was going to hate the film when the opening shot ranged over some field and a lady began to sing. There were a load of nuns as well and I found myself feeling very sorry for Mother if she’d had to listen to singing like that all day in the convent.

By the time a lot of very silly children began to add to the noise I had finished my chocolates and was aware of just how uncomfortable my seat was. I did a great deal of wriggling and sighing and kicking the back of the seat in front to see how long it would be before its owner turned around.

Gran was between me and Mother, so I got away with all this. Finally the boredom and the darkness made my eyes grow heavy and I slipped into sleep.

I woke up when Gran shook me.

“Stand up,” she snapped.

I stumbled to my feet and realised the national anthem was playing and everyone was beginning to leave the cinema. The cool night air woke me up and I began to take notice of the adults.

“What did you think?” Mother asked father with a bright smile.

He just looked at her like a man who had been in pain for the last hour or so.

“Well I thought it was good,” she said with false gaiety, “The scenery was lovely. Did you enjoy it, Millie?”

“I did not,” Gran replied firmly, “It was the most disgusting exhibition I ever saw.”

Even Father seemed stunned by this pronouncement and I bitterly regretted going to sleep. What had I missed?

“Allowing a young girl like that to marry a man old enough to be her father,” Gran continued, “Disgraceful behaviour. Utter filth! I’m surprised they were allowed to make a film about it.”

Mother’s jaw dropped.

“And I’m ashamed of you, Alice, allowing your child to see it! It was obscene. I am only glad the lamb slept through the worst of it.”

With this she swept me passed the posters of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, covering my eyes to protect my innocence.

Bev Allen © 2015-2017

 

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales Cover

Available now on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

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“A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales” is BACK.

After the self-inflected hiccup the above is back on Amazon.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales.

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Purchase or read with Kindle Unlimited here:

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6th March Book Release

“The Tattooed Tribes” will be re-released on Amazon on 6th March.

It’s a story about sustainability and respecting the natural world, but being me, there’s a couple of heroes and more than a couple of villains and the sort of things which happen when you mix the two together.

Surprisingly there are no soldiers, but fear not, normality will resume in April when I will be giving you a new book (no reissue) “The Lord of the Faran Hills”, which is soldiers from beginning to end. And muskets. I love muskets

More of that later, now back to the forest and the rivers. Here is an extract which will give you an idea why my hero Jon is seeking an apprentice and why he is having problems finding one.

Enjoy

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“It’s your fault,” Jon growled. “If you’d not agreed to take that bloody woman up into the hills, she’d never have written that bloody book.”

Cunliff threw his hands up in defence. “Orders are orders,” he protested. “And how was I to know what she’d go home and write that?”

Love under the Canopy had taken Earth by storm. After nearly five hundred years of senseless conflict, The Great War had finally ended little more than fifty years ago. In the time since most authors had written and re-written their war epics, and the public were bored with the subject and ripe for something new.

Tatiana LeJuene went looking for inspiration and colour among the colonies long cut off from the influence of civilisation.

None had fired her imagination as much as the forest world of Boskgrun. It saw barely fifty years of settlement before war left it to its own devices; forgotten, abandoned and severed from all technology.

Enchanted by all she saw she returned home to write a towering epic of conflict and love between the tribal cultures and the new settlers seeking homes away from the shattered inner worlds.

She peppered her work with eulogies on the scenery she had encountered, hints of mysterious rituals and customs, and she peopled it with sultry tribal maidens, passionate half-savage warriors, and a brave and handsome Tribal Liaison Officer.

The result enchanted the home worlds, firing the public imagination and generating many imitators. Suddenly, from being nothing more than back-water specialists working to reconcile the descendants of the first colonists with the newly arriving ones, Tribal Liaison Officers became the romantic heroes and heroines of legend, and their profession the dream job of thousands.

 

 

 

Don’t forget, the other me writes dark fantasy and you can find the story about the man having sex with the garden pond and the one about the mushrooms here.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon

I will be re-launching “The Tattooed Tribes” in early March.

Here’s a taste

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Sam

It’s been a while since I posted a short story, so here is another one about my gran, the one with the improbable black hair. She was born in the middle of one of those long families so common in the early years of the last centaury. Her eldest brother was killed on The Somme, this is a story about her youngest brother and the last of her mother’s seventeen children.

 

xxxxx

“Do you want to take my arm?”

“No, I do not want to take your arm” she replied crisply. “I’m quite capable of walking.”

She planted her stick more firmly in the turf and moved ahead of me, her face rigid with determination.

I followed; concerned the long hours in the plane and the now crushing humidity had taken more out of her than she was prepared to admit.

Her slow, but steady progress forward defied both me and the heat.

When I caught up she was looking around with her assessing eye, the one I recognised from childhood, the one that was so often the precursor of some ego shattering comment.

“They keep the place nice,” she said, approvingly.

I sighed with relief.

“For natives,” she added, with a disdainful sniff.

“Gran you can’t say things like that,” I protested furiously.

“Why not?” she demanded and moved on again between the rows of headstones.

I didn’t argue. More than years separated us; the world she had been born into was very different from the one I had entered. A difference perhaps greater than the one between the country we were visiting and the one we’d left to come here.

Two great wars stood between her birth and mine.

Ahead of me she made an incongruous picture against the back drop of vivid jungle green. I wore the lightest summer dress I owned, but she was all in determined black. Certain clothes went with certain events as far she was concerned and neither heat nor location would alter her view.

Even more incongruous was the small wreath of scarlet poppies in her hand, aliens bravely holding their own in the face of tropical magnificence. As alien as the old lady who had brought them half way around the world to this land of streaming heat and palm trees.

She moved ahead of me between the rows of headstones and I realised tears had dimmed her eyes and she had walked passed him.

“Gran,” I said, gently. “He’s here.”

Turning she came back to Plot 18, row D, grave no. 10.

Silently her hand went out and touched the badge cut into the stone; then she traced the letters of his name with fingers twisted by arthritis.

“I thought you were out in the jungle somewhere,” she whispered. “All alone.”

I took her hand and we stood silently while the long ranks of his brothers in arms stretched away from us row upon row.

“He was our Mam’s last baby. God knows enough of us had come and gone before, but there was something about him. We all loved him.”

She made a small derisive sound,

“Even our Da.”

She bent her old bones down to place her little wreath and was finally able to say goodbye to the little brother she had loved so much.

 

Sam

KIA Burma 20th Jan 1945

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