Monday, 11 September 2017 18:46

Not Going to Granda's Funeral

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Children's voices, a skipping game: the big ship sailed...North East accents
Lilian (about 10):  Your Granda's dead
Catherine: (6)    :   No he's not, he's poorly.
Bernadette(10)  :  Have you seen him?
Catherine          :  (quietly) I'm not allowed in his room  
Bernadette        :  They probably just haven't told you
Lilian                 :  He's dead, me Mam told me
Adult Catherine:  And he was. I felt right shown up, not even knowing when me own Granda died.  Delivering such important news to the girls in the street would have meant 
                            something to me.  But I was so insignificant that nobody in my own family thought to tell me.  Did they not think I'd find out? They probably didn't tell the 
                            neighbours  either.  It's amazing what you can learn twitching curtains all day.
Dad                   :  No you can't see him
Catherine          :  Well can I go to the Funeral?  When Is it?
Dad                   : (gently)  It's on Friday but you can't go.  Funerals aren't for children
Catherine          :  But where am I going to go?  Why can't I go?
Dad                   :  You are not going.  We'll take you to Uncle Frank's and Auntie Sal' s and Linda will look after you while we are at the funeral.
Catherine          :  There was no point arguing.  I think me Dad wanted to protect me from Death, remembering when his Mam died.  But I was going to the Nuns for 
                             Catholic Instruction and to Mass every Sunday so I knew about Hell and Mortal Sin.  I don't think I could have explained then that I felt that it was 
                             an important family occasion that I felt I should be able to take part in.  I felt I was entitled to a certain status as the cousin who lived with my Granda
                            (together with my mother, father and baby brother)and that status was being denied me.   I had some much older cousins who would be able to go.  
                             Maybe that's why I was always desperate to grow up.  So I could go to funerals.
                            So on Friday I was dressed up like I was going to church, best coat and new shoes, and was delivered up to my teenage cousin Linda and her cousin 
                           Christine, from her Mam's side.  I liked them well enough but I knew the perils of being with older girls. I had a terrible time being the youngest girl in the 
                           Square where I lived.
                             I took some comfort from the fact that we would be able to listen to records on Linda's Dansette but I was horrified to find that we weren't allowed in the 
                             house and would have to wander around the Estate all day.
Catherine         :  But when are they coming back?
Linda                : I don't know...this afternoon
Catherine         :  But what are we going to do?
Linda                :  I don't know.  What do you want to do?
Catherine         :  I want to go to the house because these shoes are killing my feet.
Linda                :  Well we can't do that.  We can go for a walk
Catherine         :  But my feet hurt
Chris                :  We'll walk slowly
Catherine         :  And what about our dinner?  
Linda                :  We'll get it when they come back.  Come on,  It will be alright.
So off we went, up and down roads I didn't know, heading for the field with the horses in it, Linda and Chris ahead and me trailing behind, just close enough to eavesdrop.
Chris               :  So what's he like, your boyfriend ?
Linda               :  He's nice looking and he's good at football.
Chris               :  Have you kissed him yet?   
Linda               :  No. He only asked us to be his girlfriend on Wednesday.  He said he'd take uz to the pictures
                            (They laugh and squeal)
Chris               :  You'd better hope Uncle Frank doesn't find out or he'll lock you in your bedroom!
Catherine        :  Linda!  There's some boys coming over the fence.  (Shouts and noises from a charging bunch of boys, about eight of them)
Linda               :  Oh bugger!  Run!
Catherine        :  Run! In my new shoes and blisters on my heels! There were about eight of them.  The kind of rough boys I knew to be scared of.  They caught us of course. 
                          I hoped Chris and Linda could sort it out.  The leader was hard looking in his raggy jersey.
Leader            :  (to his troops)  Keep hold of them.  Don't let them go. (To us)  This is our field.  You can't come in it
Linda              :  (Defiant, not convincingly)  It's not your field.  They aren't your horses.
Leader            :  That doesn't matter.  It's ours.  And we can get you if we want to.  We could beat you up.  You have to give us a kiss and we'll let you go.
Catherine       : I was horrified and relieved and very scared.  I didn't know about sex yet but I could feel threat and fear and it wasn't just about getting hit.  
                         And there were more of them and they were boys and they were bigger than me.  I was relieved at the thought of being let go and at not having to do 
                         any kissing on account of being six.  So Linda and Chris kissed them.  One of the boys kept hold of my arm.
Linda              :  Right, we've kissed yiz  all so we're going.
Leader            :  What about her?
Linda              :  Leave her alone.  She's only six.
Leader            :  She's here isn't she?  Come here you (to Catherine)
Catherine       :  I was really scared now.  I couldn't run, I couldn't scream and I couldn't get away from this boy and there was nobody who could help me.
Leader           :  Show uz your knickers.
Catherine      :  I couldn't move.  Linda and Chris didn't move.  Everybody was dead quiet.
Leader          :  Show uz your knickers
Catherine      :  I slowly lifted up my dress and he watched me. It seemed I stood like that for a long time.  I thought how he might decide to murder me and would my Mam 
                        and Dad find me
Leader           :  All right, yiz can go.
Catherine      :  We ran. My heels really hurt but fear gives you wings.
                         We went and sat on the grass outside Linda's house till the grown-ups came back.
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