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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Aye, lads are like that

My Worst Journeys. An occasional series

That she agreed to a dinner! At Leylands Lane! The stiffness of it. She, her brother, I and laid-out cutlery, all foreseen. Mother bringing in plates.

While I am booted for rock on an empty road “up in the Dales”. Miles to go, too many of them.

Mother smiling artificially at this girl who means so much to me. Mother concerned at my youth, my inexperience, that I might be hurt.

Boots clump on untrafficked tarmac as I stride out painfully. Futilely.

There was a refusal, ah how that hurt. Now this, this unexpectedly formal meal. Was she simply curious...?

My calves ache, I’m walking too quickly and it’s pointless. Nearer to her, yes, but it’s pure theory. I will be late.

.... wanting to read the titles of books on our shelves? But surely she wasn’t that interested.

Late. Which can mean dead. The late lamented. Would I prefer that in a bid for sympathy?

Ash-blonde hair. Figure – no I can’t think about that. A sharp, regional tone of voice, well suited for criticism. Inaudible over the clash of knives and forks on my Mother’s chipped crockery. Imagination’s a bitch, isn’t it?

I walk on into a mist swallowed up by defective memory. Somehow the gap between the Dales road and Leylands Lane was bridged, in time, and anticlimactically. I know only that we met – foregathered sounds appropriate - and there was crisp meaningless talk. Of the meal which had seemed so inexplicable it only exists in the form I imagined it; not a single image now extant. An adolescent fever reduced to a faint uneasiness.


  1. Ah, you express so well adolescent events and passions, RR. It brought back similar memories, unremembered until now.

  2. Hiking to your mother's house at such a tender age? I'm sure I should know why but can't recall.

  3. And I've just read a book in which there is a great deal of walking. By Englishmen. And boys. Who walk and argue. Or walk and think. And occasionally pull off their clothes and leap into the nearest pool.

    Like this little uncomfortable piece. The two parts braided. The peep into young Roderick's memory. Roderick, Random....

  4. All: Sorry about the delay in replying. As you can see from my subsequent post, I've been away.

    Avus: I appreciate that. Adolescence is so rich in contrary and intense experience that I sometimes feel ashamed to mine it.

    MikeM: I must have given the wrong impression; this occurred in my late teens. Sorry about that. In fact I'd been a member of the Youth Hostels Association (a chain of inexpensive dormitory-based overnight places in the UK) from the earliest age possible - 13. In those days you were only allowed to use them if you'd arrived on foot or by bike.

    Marly: Uncomfortable - yes, just so. What is so strange are the sharply remembered emotions as I strove to get home compared with the complete absence of detail when I arrived. Perhaps I realised that whatever the reason for her being willing to dine, it wasn't out of affection. There was no way forward with her until we re-met at a funeral sixty years later and she seemed absolutely fascinated by what I'd turned out to be.