Come with me on a journey,
A journey back in time
To a northern council estate the year is 1979
Hi my name is Joolz im 14 I live here on this sprawling estate.
The best thing about it is my back gate opens onto the woods.
It’s a magical place where my favorite flowers grow.
Can you guess what they are?
Dandilions, I know my mam says they are wee in beds.
But I love them bright yellow like the sun.
Then after the flower comes the dandilions clock. Did you know each seed is a wish?
Everyone knows that every wish is a chance and I really need a chance.
It’s June its Sunday afternoon.
I’m creeping down the stairs I can hear my Mam and Dad fighting.
Money and beer they are always fighting.
I open the kitchen door slowly.
There on the yellow formica table is dad’s old Holborn tin. Lid half on half off, spilt tabaco and empty pint glass.
My dog Toby is in his bed under the table, his tail wagging and banging on table leg pleased to see me.
Shhhhh Toby I whisper Dad will hear.
I turn the back door knob slowly heart banging I’m almost out.
Sun shining brightly as I step out into the garden the smell of Sunday dinner cooking and grass cuttings waft across the Hawthorne hedge.
There is Frank mowing his lawn. Up and down straight perfect lines like his straight perfect life.
He sees me and stops mowing.
“they at it again?” He says knowing towards our house like the old women from a Les Dawson sketch.
I ignore him he carries on mowing.
There at the bottom of the path is my bike leaning on garden gate. My escape into the woods
The huge oak tree seems to lean further over.
Hiding me in his great shadow.
I’m almost there.
Hands grip the handle bars as I jump onto the saddle the back door opens and Dad shouts. ‘Where the bloody hell are you going?’
‘I w wont be long Dad’ I stutter and start to peddle as fast as I can.
Down the winding dirt path through the woods over the knobbly tree roots my bike bouncing this way and that.
Dappled sunlight shadowy pattern on my skinny arms, I’m heading for the bottom field I can see the arch of sunlight getting closer.
As my bike shoots out of the woods I;m momentarily blinded by the bright sunlight. The TWACK! Im hit hard on the side of my head and I’m thrown from my bike.
‘Ouch’ I cry as I land half on the grass and half on the gravel path, my hands re bloody and there are grass stains down my jeans my Mam will kill me.
I shade my eyes from the sun look up expecting to see Dad and get another crack.
But its not Dad. its a boy about my age fourteen fifteen maybe,
he has the most beautiful brown eyes and he’s apologizing.
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry he’s holding out his hand to me pointing with the other one at the leather football that had knocked me off my bike.
He pulls me to my feet. Still apologizing his accent is defiantly not northern he sounds like my French teacher.
‘I am Jean Claude’ he is saying, ‘You?’
‘Joolz ‘ I say shyly as he picks up my bike.
‘I have a bike come I show you’ and for some reason I follow the smiling French boy.
French boy where did you come from?
What are you doing here?
This is a northern council estate you cant possibly be a sightseer!
That summer was the best summer of my life. We rode bikes climbed trees swam in the dam, he would buy biscuits and tins of pop from the shop we would go for picnics and watched clouds.
he would make me daisy chains but from dandelions because I loved them I was his dandelion girl.
Fast forward to November its bonfire night I cant believe French kids don’t had bonfire night can you?
I’m meeting him at six o clock on the church wall. I’m running through the woods down through the estate past the prefabs the air smells of smoke I’m so exited. there he is sitting on the wall waving he jumps down to greet me puts his arm around me and we walk in step heading towards the community centre.
As we walk across the field we can see the bonfire just been lit huge fiery pyramid. I shiver and he pulls me closer fireworks whistle and bang.
The sky is inky black and clear.
‘Look he says it is a full moon’! ‘My mother will be under the same moon, one day I will take you home you will meet her and we will have a bonfire.’
I smile because I believe him we have planned it one day I will go with him far from here.
Then suddenly there is flash and a crash and a dirty pint glass and a voice shouts ‘Hey you nigger lover.’
And time stands still…..
I’m dragged kicking and screaming away from my brown eyed boy.
I fight, there is a smell of beer and tobacco and it reminds me of Dad. roman candles remind me of gunshots and out of the corner of my eye I can see sparklers.
Then he lets me go and I crawl across cold soggy grass back towards the fire.
he is there Jean Claude lying on his side bleeding beautiful brown eyes terrified now.
‘Are you alright?’ he whispers.
‘get up, get up.’ I beg.
Beautiful brown eyed black boy. White brown eyed girl.
Do we not have the dreams
Do we not bleed same colour blood
do our hearts not beat the same terrified beat
We hold on tight to each other as we 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 cant possibly be a sightseer.
Blue lights and sirens
Ambulance takes us both away
Hospital can stich the cuts but who can stop my brown eyes boy from being taken away.
Back to the Seychelles his home in the sun.
Me his dandelion girl stands here on the estate where this story began
fist full of dandelions
Wishing that the world could see there is no colour to love.