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January 2016 vol 11 no 4

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Claire Everett

Lifting the Lid


A seaside town in the North East. High summer, and it’s not so much bracing as abrasive. Seagulls as big as terriers are going to ground in search of cold chips and batter scraps. One draws the golden ticket, a nugget of cod, and makes off with it, swaggering to the hurdy-gurdy music from the gaudy arcade.

Nothing left to do but browse the flea market on the parade. Not much to write home about: the usual vintage postcards and Royal memorabilia; a wind-up gramophone and a Singer sewing machine; tin canisters for Oxo and Bisto for Gravy, lined up like Babushka dolls; cuff-links and Flapper-girl beads, a red feather boa. Then this: a dress box labelled Roma, lying on the trestle as if waiting for some Hollywood starlet to light upon it, exclaiming “well, I never did!” as she whips off the lid and gathers the chiffon, the silk, the taffeta to her breast before the gown sends her swooning into a waltz.

Fingers dancing now at the thought of a little black Hepburn with a sweetheart neckline, or a sigh of ashes-of-roses, fit for Meggie Cleary.

Jumping back a foot at the sight of the fur stole with its wizened head. Not the living flame it was but a heap of ash on a cinerary spade.

Dropping the dead weight of it.

fox scat –
the mother she sees
the mother I am


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