Come with me on a journey
A journey back in time
To a northern council
estate the year is 1979.
Hi I’m Joolz Im fourteen and I live here on this estate
People say it’s a bad place but I love it.
My garden gate opens onto a woodland
It’s a magical place with Oak Ash and Rowen.
My favourite flower grows here
Can you guess what it is?
It’s a Dandelion.
I know! My mam calls them wee in beds.
But I really love them.
They are beautiful bright yellow just like sunshine.
Then after the flower you get a magical dandelion clock.
Each seed is a wish.
And each wish is a chance.
Everyone needs a chance.
So it’s a bright Sunday morning in May.
I’m creeping down the stairs
I can hear mam and Dad shouting and arguing..
About beer and money.
They are always arguing.
I open the door to the kitchen
There on the yellow Formica top table is Dad’s old Holborn tobacco tin
Lid half off
My dog Toby is under the table in his box furiously wagging his tail
It twacks against the table leg.
Shhh Toby I say patting his head Dad will hear.
I slowly turn the back door knob holding my breath
They are still shouting
I step out into the porch sun is shining brightly the smell of Sunday dinners and cut grass wafts over the Hawthorne hedge.
I can see my old blue grifter bike leaning on the back gate
I step into the sunlight
Frank next door is mowing his lawn
Up and down he walks
Straight narrow lines
Like his straight narrow life
He sees me and stops.
Folds his arms over his chest and asks
‘Are they at it again?’
I cringe and ignore him and he carries on mowing.
I’m half way down the path.
The old oak tree casts a huge shadow trying to hide me.
I get to my bike.
Hold onto the handles and jump onto the seat.
The back door opens.
Where the bloody hell do you think your going lady ?
My heart beats faster.
Er I .
I won’t be long Dad I manage.
I start to peddle.
As fast as I can.
I know these paths like the back of my hand.
Faster and faster I go.
Over knobbly tree roots.
Bike bouncing this way and that .
Im heading for the bottom.field
Dappled sunlight through the canopy of trees
There ahead of me an arch way of light
As the bike busts out into the bright sunlight
I’m momentarily blinded
Then a sudden thwack!
I’m.thrown from my bike.
I cry as I hit the ground.
Half on the the grass half on the path
I look up squinting into the sun blood on my hands and grass stains on my jeans my mama going to kill me .
I look around expecting to see Dad and get another smack.
But there staring back at me if isn’t Dad.
It’s a boy around my age
He has the most beautiful brown eyes
I’m sorry, so sorry he says
He is pointing at a leather football
The same ball that has knocked me off my bike.
That’s not a northern accent.
He sounds like my French teacher
He holds out his hand to me
I’m.sorry he says again.
I’m Jean Claude .
Joolz I say holding out my hand and he pulls me up.
I’m running the gravel from my hands.
He picks up my bike hands it to me.
I have a bike he says.
Come and beckons me to follow.
And I do.
French boy where did you come from?
What are you doing here.
This is a northern council estate.
You can’t possibly be a sightseer.
French kid sent here to be educated
Scruffy council estate kid
Both square pegs both needing to fit.
That summer was the best ever.
We were friends.
We went bike riding.
Went for picnics with biscuits and pop.
He threw stones at my bedroom window
We would like on the grass watching stars
He made me Daisy chains from dandilions
And gave me butterflies for the first time.
Now fast forward to November.
It’s bonfire night
Can you believe French kids don’t do bonfire night .
I’ve arranged to meet him.at 6 o click on the church wall.
I’m so exited I run through the woods I can see my breath in the air.
It’s do cold the air is filled with smell of smoke and I see him sitting on st David’s church wall he’s smiling that big smile and waving
He jumps off the wall.and puts his arm around my shoulders.
We fall into step.
We walk towards the community centre
Chatting and laughing.
As we approach we see the bonfire standing tall like a fiery pyramid.
Old doors leaning around it’s sides
It’s huge he says as we get closer I look up.as Sparks rise like fire flies.
The sky is clear and inky black .
Look look.st the moon she is full says John .
You see her. That is the same moon my mother will see outside my house over the sea.
It is so beautiful there
One day I will take you there
He pulls me closer to him.and I smile.
I believe him
One day I will.go with him escape be free away from this place we have planned it
Then suddenly there is a smash and a crash and a dirty pint glass
A voice shouts loud “hey nigger lover.”
Time just stops…..
I’m dragged kicking and screaming away from my brown eyed boy.
I scream bite and fight.
There is a sound of shots is it a fire work it sounds like dad’s shotgun
I can taste blood.
Smell beer it reminds me of dad.
Suddenly I’m free.
I crawl back towards the fire.
Calling whimpering his name.
He is there laying on his side I grab his arm
Those beautiful brown eyes full of terror
Joolz he whispers
Blood on his face.
Get up . Get up I beg.
Our crime beautiful brown eyed black boy.
Brown eyes white girl
Do we not bleed the same colour blood.
Our hearts best the same terrified beat.
As holding onto each other we stagger to our feet and stumble to a house across the street
French boy where did you come from.
What are you doing here
This is a northern council estate you can’t possibly be a sightseer.
Blue flashing lights and ambulance comes to take us away.
Hospital cleans up the blood stitches us up.
But can’t stop my brown eyed boy from going away.
Back to the Seyshelles his island and family in the sun.
And me northern council.estate kid I stay here on the street where our story began
Bunches of dandilions..
But just one that matters
Let the world see there is no colour to LOVE.