A R C H I V E
Page under construction... (Uploading The Birmingham Quean has taken a long time and I've yet to put any recent – or even half recent – short fiction into a format that can be posted with any ease. Still, here's a bit of juvenilia from the previous milliennium to be going on with.)
© Copyright S.A.M. Trainor 1999
When I was 7 I buried my favourite jacket at the bottom of the garden by the ants nest. Nobody found out. It was like a bomber jacket but it was made of carpet on the outside and it had a CND badge. It was ace.
I think it came from Romford where my cousins live in London. It was a ham-me-down. I used to get all sorts of things off them. Like a waste-coat that a snooker player wears. And if you turned it inside out it was all silk and shiny. You could be the silversurfer in it. That was when I decided to read comics.
My jacket was the best thing ever. It didnt fit at first. And I looked stupid. Except I could do an impression of Few Man Chew to make my Grandma laugh. Because Chinese people put their hands in their other sleeves to keep them warm. And they say How So.
They dont do that though really any more because there a modern country now and they share their bikes. But I thought they did when I was 7.
My jacket used to be too big and floppy but then it grew on me. I didnt look like an elephant any more and I got a big CND badge at the same time as I got the poster with Maggie Thatcher milk snatcher and the one with the newclear skeleton. So it was my favourite jacket ever. And then we moved to Druids Heath.
A druids a bit like a wizard but older and they built stonehenge and invented cricket. Theres a maypole there as well for people to dance around on mayday. And the druids used to do magic with mistletoe. Which is why you kiss at christmas. I used to think my new house was a mystery.
Christmas trees are nothing to do with jesus either.
My dads really good at making curry because he went to school with Mr Singh who taught him. Mr Singhs a teacher too. My dad knows all about spices. He doesnt need to have labels on the glass pots. Hes got them all on a high shelf by the side of the cooker with big heavy stoppers like a chemistry set.
I think my Dad might be a druid.
He just sniffs it and he knows if its come-in or coriander. He also knows what their really called too. Turmeric is haldi and okra is bindi and aloo gobi is colly and spuds and come-in is called jeera. He knows all the words. Like a saucerer. But he usually likes to say come-in though instead of jeera so he can do that thing from the bible about the scribes and farisees.
Beware the scribes and farisees for they will somethink somethink dill and cumin.
He conducts the orchestra with a big spoon as he does it. Hes funny. One time I wrote a story at school about him burning the beans because he didnt know how to cook and he was watching football and shouting at the telly when mom was in hospital. But he did all the cooking really. Sometimes we thought he only did it so he could moan at us: who cooks your bloody dinner every night? the fairies?
I thought the fairies were the farisees when I was 7.
I knew my dad was proud of doing all the cooking so I thought hed be sad that I didnt preciate him when he read it in my excercise book about him burning the beans because he was watching football when mom was in hospital. Because Mrs Winters always said we had to write neatly so as our parents could read it when they came in for parents evening. It was a clever way of making us not make things up. That was the truth of it. But I didnt know that because I was a new boy when I wrote it. And it was supposed to be a report anyway. I was only 7. But my dad thought it was funny and he came and told me off in a joke way when he tucked me in. And he rubadubbed my hair. Hed been to the milk bar with uncle Tommy. Which means the Horse and Jockey.
Mom was better then anyway.
You can tell hes a curry expert because he eats lime pickle and he drains all the orange oil off it by leaving it on a fork over the top of the pot when hes doing something else. Pickles usually made with vinegar. But Indian pickles different. Its oily and it stains. Hes got a special fork for it thats waited just right. Hes got the right tool for every job my dad. But it was a stupid thing to do really because one time I walked past it after Id been throwing snowballs at the cats in the garden and I knocked the pot of pickle on my jacket. Mom saw and she just picked up the jar and shushed me. She knew my father would kill me if he found out.
He threw me over the settee once and I hit my head on the radiator when Id only spilled a cup of tea. Bong! It wasnt fair. And then another time I did someting really naughty and he didnt mind. He didnt even stand at the bottom of the stairs and smack my bum as I ran past to go to bed. I think it was the time I let the tires down.
Sometimes it used to make me laugh when he smacked my bum. That wasnt a very good idea was it.
You can never tell what my dad is going to do when youre naughty. But he didnt know anything about the pickle then. And what you dont know cant hurt you.
And then I couldnt find my jacket in the morning. I hunted high and low. I tried to do moving things and looking behind them as well so that mom wouldnt get a chance to say that I was hopeless because I was a boy. But it was her fault really becuase it was on the line after shed given it a swill in the sink. I went out and put my face in it for the nice smell. But it was still a bit pickly. Not the sharp smell any more but a kind of fat one like swallowing an egg. I sniffed around it and it was only there in some places so I thought itd be okay anyway.
I yanked it off the line and when I put it on the cuffs were still damp. But I didnt care because it was my favourite. I looked dead posh in it.
I know my way to school with my eyes shut. So I tried it that day. Except I stopped and looked and listened at the roads. Theres 67 steps to the corner then about a hundred and 40 to Featherstone Road and about the same to Highbury Road because its built in blocks these days and they draw around their rulers. After that theres 28 planks in the creosote fence that goes round to school. And then you just follow your nose. Actually its your ears because youre listening to the playground like seagulls. But you cant walk towards your ears like you can with your nose.
We really had seagulls in the playground once. And then there was the time that the block of flats got struck by lightening and Darren Elbow ran into a pipe. God moves in mysterious ways said Mrs Winter and Amrit did a little dance like the tales of the unexpected. Amrits my best friend. He makes me laugh. Hes a bit like my dad when he acts like a monny like that. My dad moves in mysterious ways too.
Amrit wasnt walking with me to school in the mornng because his dad insists upon giving him a lift these days for some reason. I called Amrit a def-out to start with but then I found out that he wanted to come with me after all so that we could get blackjacks from the VG when he found a 2p down the side of the sofa one day. But his dad wouldnt let him. Amrit says sofa but I say settee.
Blackjacks are my favourite. Theyre chewy sweets but theyre licorice as well and they make your tounge and lips go black so you look like a vampire. Its having your cake and eating it.
I like mojos too. Theyre the same but theyre orange.
I was counting along the fence when someone pushed me all of a sudden. This is a turn up for the books I thought. I opened my eyes but everything was blurry.
,,Oi, fuckwit, wake up!
I didnt know any of them. There was three. They had uniforms.
,,Fuckinell, you stink like a paki, boy! E R wayne take a whiff of this. Wayne grabbed hold of the front of my jacket and picked me up against the fence. He was the nastiest of the lot. And he was the only one whose name I could work out anyway.
,,Your disgusting, he said. Youre not fooling us with your ginger hair and your freckles, your some sort of a fucking albino, youre just another stinking paki immigrant fuckin... coon.
I kicked him in the goolies. My grandma always said you had to have a hatpin. But I never did. I didnt even really know what one was. I thought hed let go of me and I could run away. Im the fastest runner in the school. They couldnt catch me even if they were big. I knew all the best shortcuts down the gullies too.
But it just made him angry. He punched me in the belly and I felt sick and he threw me on the floor with my face up against the fence. All I could smell was the creosote. My dad put creosote on our fence. It smells like those hot barrels of tar that they make the road with. Its kind of horrible but you cant help sniffing it anyway. Some people even sniff glue.
Wayne kneeled on my back and twisted my arm until it went right round the wrong way. I went OW and the other one said ,,whats the matter CND boy? and wayne said, ,,scared of being disarmed all of a sudden? and then they all laughed.
Wayne banged my head against the fence until my nose started to bleed. Every time he hit my head on the fence he said LAUGH like this:---
,,goo on Laugh, BANG come on its a funny joke Laugh, you dis gusting little whitey wog LAUGH!! wwWWACCK!!!!!
The last time was when my nose started bleeding. And I was crying too But it was only becuase of my nose. Your eyes always water when you hit your nose.
,,Heres another one for you abdul, says wayne, I thought he was going to hit me again but he didnt. I dont know why he called me abdul. ,,Weell do you a little deal. If you laugh at this one, weell let you get off to your stinking little hippy school for paki lovers.Ok?
I kept shtum
,,What do paki women call it if they have dyerear?... he said,,Well?... What do you think abdul? Direrear? What do they call it?
,,i don't know.
,,A Miscarriage! he said. He whispered it in my ear and he laughed and then the others did too. And I dont think they even heard.
I didnt get it but I just laughed anyway as well.
,,Oh I see youve got a sense of fucking humour all of a sudden wog boy. Well heres a bit of news for you then.
Wayne was talking right up against my cheek now and rubbing spit into my face with his lips.
,,If you laughed at that joke it means that you know that all pakis are made of shit which is why they stink. Get it? And you know why theyre made of shit? Eh? Its because you have to fuck a paki woman up the arse to make her pregnant. Like a poof. Which proves that all pakis are gay. Which is probably why you stink like one you fucking mongrel.
Wayne started bouncing up and down on my bum like a jockey. I tried to wriggle out of it but he was too heavy.
,,Because youve been enjoying some big old paki dick inside you. Cos youre a little paki fucking bum bandit cunt.
He got off me and started kicking me. I rolled up in a ball and my face was all covered in snot and blood so I couldnt see but I knew that they were all kicking me now.
And then suddenly they ran off.
When I got up I realised that my trousers were all sticky and warm. I ran straight home. The trousers were ripped as well and some of it leaked out. I ran so fast that noone would see it. Maybe they didnt even see me at all I ran so fast.
When I was 7 I thought that if you put a patch over a tear in your trousers it was like a plaster and you could take it off later and the tear would be better. But then I saw some inside out and thats when I found out.
When I got home I ran round the back of the garden and climbed over the fence. I dont know how I got over. I cant do it any more. I think I just jumped and held onto the top and pulled the rest of me up.
It was a bit like a dream. Except in a dream you can fly straight upwards. You dont have to flap your wings because you havent got any anyway. Or you dont need to run and jump or dive off somethng high. You can just think up and you go up. Its actually not flying at all. Its moving about in the air. You do it from behind your ears.
There was everything I needed in the washroom behind the outside toilet when I was 7. I took off my trousers and pants and put them in the washing machine. I didnt know how to turn it on but I knew mom would just throw everything else in without checking next time she did a wash. Mom hated the outside toilet because of the spiders. When she got poorly I thought shed been bitten.
Then I washed myself with the outside tap. It was freezing and my willy was all shriveld up.
If you run your hand under cold water long enough it starts to feel boiling. And the other way round too.
If people knew the things that I do then theyd understand. Like about the electric through you when youre swimming sometimes and the smell at the top of your nose when you notice something in the corner of your eye.
I took off my jacket and put my dads smok on. A smok is like a cross between a jumper and a coat. Its got one big pocket at the front and a hood. Grandma made my dads for him to work in. Its made of jeans. It was big enough to come down to my knees.
And I got a spade to dig with. It wasnt the big spade because that was too heavy. I took the jacket and the spade down to the bottom of the garden behind the tall weeds where the fence is. There were stingers there too so I tiptoed past them and past the paving stone with the ants nest under it and I knew that noone would come down here. I thought so anyway. I didnt know my dad would want to plant some peas. How was I spose to?
Theres one day in june when all the ants grow wings and they come out of the cracks between the paving stones and dry them and then fly away. Its weird. The whole world is a carpet of wing-ants. The next day they just leave behind little sandy piles of dirt where theyve tunneled out. Everybody wonders where they go to.
First I digged all the dirt away with the dandelions and dock leaves in it. But I kept the dock leaves in case of the stingers. And then I suddenly saw that the ground was orange under the dirt. It was very strange. I always thought dirt was brown. But when I was 8 I found out that was just the topsoil and underneath youve got orange clay or sometimes lime which is whitish and in ireland its black peat.
Which just goes to show that things are never quite the way they seem.
Eg. weve got a cupboard called the red cupboard even though its been blue for years. But in the old house it was red so its the red cupboard. Me and Josh have got it at the end of the bunkbed and sometimes I climb on top of it turn the light off because hes being stubborn or a mardy face ache and he wont switch off the light even though hes on the bottom and its obvious.
And weve got an eraldin cupboard as well. And its just got plates and bowls and glasses in it. Eraldin is a drug with cider-fex that made nan have bad eyes. It dried up her tears which I thought was alright at first but it means she needs to drop in eye drops loads of times a day to stop them going like currants. My mom got eraldin band by being the secretary of the Action Group and going on Panorama. She got her hair cut like a big microphone the day she went on telly and I could hardly recognise her when she picked me up from school. My mom was somebody important though and I never really realised. You could tell by her hair I spose.
But then when it was over the eraldin cupboard got plates and things in it. Josh thinks that everbodies got an eraldin cupboard in their house. Hes stupid. He asked someones mom where her eraldin cupboard was once so he could put his plate away. She thought he was bonkers.
When I saw the orange stuff at the bottom of the garden I thought it was the perfect hiding place because I didnt even know it was there before. So I rolled up my favourite jacket and buried it right in the middle of it. All the work was making me huff and puff my cheeks but I didnt stop until Id covered it all back over with dirt and some dock leaves for good measure. It was a nice old bit of camoflage. If I say so myself.
I tried looking at it from other bits of the garden like the path but I couldnt see diddly squat.
Then I sneaked up the stairs really fast and quietly and put some new clothes on. Grandad heard me but he didnt get up the stairs in time to see me changing. He had half a broken snooker cue and he said I was a little bugger for scaring him. But there was no harm done.
He was a hook and line sinker for it too when I told him Id hurt myself in pe and they sent me home. He didnt even tell mom when she came back. Which is a good job because sheed have checked. He was glad to have someone to do the pools numbers for him and show him a hand position for his drawing.
Ive always been good at lying.
My dad said I looked like the Dong when he came home. The Dong is a very sad kind of thing who makes a big fiery nose like a lighthouse to try and get his girlfriend to come back. Shes a jumbly and she goes to sea on a sieve. My dad used to read it properly like a poem and I think he actually made the Dong come into our house like a ghost at the bottom of the stairs by the way he spoke. Hes a bit like a druid with his beard. Thats why I have to run up the stairs two at a time. But I shouldnt be scared of him because hes only sad because he misses his love.
I had great fun watching all my bruises change colour. At one point I looked a bit like a parrot with all the yellow and green bits. I copied everything people said in a squawky voice. But that didnt last long.
And then when mom was poorly my teddy needed to go into hospital too. My teddy was unrecognisible mom said. I loved it so much that the whole of its outside was just made of vests and the stuffing was coming out. When I was 7 I thought my nans house was a hospital for teddies. I went to visit him and he had a bandage round his head and a little armband with his name on. Actually it was my armband from when I was born in the QE but I pretended that I thought it was his so that my nan wouldnt get upset.
On my birthday when I was eight I threw my teddy in the dustbin. Some things were going to change and it wasnt going to be easy. But if we all help each other itll be all right.
One of the changes was that my dad decided to plant some peas. He said they were called matar. I asked him why it matters because I didnt know he was speaking Indian and he said because his dad had been from a farming family who made the best asparagus in evesham. That wasnt his real dad. His real dad died in the war. But he didnt die of it. My dad didnt have time to grow asparagus but he could do peas and they were delicious if you ate them straight out of the pod when he was a kid.
But then when he started digging up the garden my dad soon found the jacket. Id forgotten all about it since my bruises went but then I saw him coming up the path with it on the end of his fingers. I ran away.
I hid inside a rolled up mattress in his bedroom and he didnt find me. When I came out he wasnt angry at all he was worried about me the whole time. He sat me down with a nice cup of tea and I told him that someone had picked on me for smelling like a paki because of the jacket. I didnt tell him everything.
My dad was very angry. But not with me. He told me all about why people are racists. I asked him if they were worse than tories and he laughed and said yes. It was good that I made him laugh.
Whats strange is that I found out that my grandma was probably a racist too because she told me once that west indians are alright because theyre just happy go lucky but real indians were devious. I think she got mixed up by cowboy films though. Them are injuns not indians. Its columbiuses fault that nobody understands what indians means any more.
And once Id even been a racist myself when I was little and I said a black ladies baby looked like a monkey on the bus. Mom really told me off then and I didnt know why. It wasnt fair because he really did look a bit like a monkey and I always liked monkeys. My favourite Indian god is Hanuman. But I shouldnt say it because thats what racists call black people and even if you dont mean it you shouldnt say it just in case.
The worst word is paki because most of the time they say it about people who arent from pakistan. Lots of people are from Cashmere and Gujerat and Bangldesht and utter Pradesh. Which are all Indian places. And some of them are indian people from Yougander in africa like Mr Singh who was thrown out by Iddy Armene. But the jokes on them because really the word paki means 'pure' like pure orange juice which hasnt got any e-numbers. So theyre fooling themselves when they say it.
Anyway I cant be a racist any more because of Amrit. Amrits dad knows Mr Singh. Hes called Mr Singh too becuase hes a sikh and theyre all called that. It means lion.
When me and Amrit were the new boys theyd just band british bulldogs. Which is a game where they said that people got hurt. It was somethink like you had to get into two teams and one side who wasnt the British Bulldogs had to run across the playground to the other teams base who was the British Bulldogs. And they had to fight them to stop them getteing there. I was never sure about it because Id never played it and it was already band. But Amrit says it was probably a bit like Kabaddi. Which is an Indian game where you hold your breath and say kabaddikabaddikabaddi over and over and over again. Birminghams the best in the world at it outside india.
So Amrit made friends with me and he invented a new game as a joke. Its really funny. Its only got two rules. And only me and him ever play it. But we like it that way. You have to get as close to the dinner lady as you can and then kick or punch your friend or deadleg him and run away. The only other rule is to get yourself caught and then explain the rules to to the dinnr lady and tell her the name of the game. Its called Bash.
Only Amrit ever gets caught. Im too quick. And anyway its better because he knows exactly what to say. He tells them its named after his brother. They dont even mind they just always say Well as long as its not British Bulldogs. How stupid can you get!!!!?????
Amrits clever. Thats why they let him off. He gets even better marks than me. So I asked him some questions yesterday:
,,yknow when people say theyre going to beat shit out of you.
,,Im gonna kick shit out of you!
,,dyou think that really happens?
,,if you kick someone hard enough can poo come out?
then Amrit laughed and did a big kick and a double raspberry.
He was in a good mood so I carried on.
,,Why do some people smell funny and some people dont?
,,What dyou mean?
,,yknow some people like you do. But you only smell normal? I didnt want to be a racist so I said brown people.
Amrit just looked at me and frowned. It was the wrong word.
,,You dont smell of it but people do in Handsworth. In the Indian shops... is it something in the pickle?
,,Mustard oil. Amrit said it after a bit of thinking, he was looking at his shoes, its this stuff that people used to put it in their hair. But nobody does it any more.
,,They do! I said. It pongs.
Amrit got up and started to walk over to the dinner lady like a soldier. He was picking his knees right up and wobbling his topknot. It was hilarious. I tried to run after him the same way.
,,Has a racist ever called you a paki?
,,No, he said, Im not a paki.
,,Nor me. I said. And Amrit kicked me in the shins and ran through the line of girls hanging on to the dinner ladys coat.
I didnt cry.
When I got home my dad made chicken saag. It used to be my favourite but I told him it was too spicy hot. Thats the only way to get him to make somethink else. In the end he made me beans on toast instead. He didnt burn the beans.
© Copyright S.A.M. Trainor 2002-2009