Moving Forward

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Moving Forward is a fictional Short Story written by Alison Little, none of the characters and events depicted are based on real people or their endevours.

Sal lies in bed dozing, in and out of consciousness between asleep and awake. The room was warm as July on Long Island often graced endless days of sunshine. She was in the staff accommodation for the hotel she was housekeeping for, her second summer job of the season. A grand, but secluded in location, sea facing hotel on an Island between the North and South fork of Long Island. Shelter Island had appealed to her when the agency rep had read the list of locations of people needing staff in her monotone voice, it had sounded safe. As with all grandiose hotels, its staff quarters were cramped and squalid. She was penned in between three girls, actually from her own country working abroad from the summer, however, she only actually had any time for one of them. She had finished early for the day, it was Tuesday and the weekend hotel trade had been and gone so they were finished not long after lunch time.

She lies under a cotton sheet brushing against her skin, no duvet as it was far too mild. She had needed to sleep loads since she arrived on the Island, just completing her workload then going to bed to snooze again. She had made attempts to be sociable with the other workers and the girls in her quarters, but she was so exhausted she was not her ‘Laughing, joking’ self and at that moment in time, she was unsure if she would ever be again.

She drifts again into sleep, falling deeper and deeper into the dream world of the pillow. To the right of her gaze she see’s a dagger, she focuses on her imaginary vision. It is, in fact, more of a miniature sword with a blade which curves towards the tip. Almost a female bowie knife, similar in size but more curvaceous, gracious towards the the fine point of the tip finished off with the ergonomic grip of the handle. The handle is a marbled range of greens, a decorative scroll is etched towards the blade mount and the encasing at the end of the form. The blade is encased in a sheath, walnut and highly polished, the tip and entrance having parts repeating the scroll from the handle. A magnificent piece made with the latest technologies but finished by hand with the care of a master craftsman.

Sal could see the dreams vision of the weapon as real as could touch the cold stainless steel, feel the weight in her hand and run her finger over the sharp blade. She imagines whipping the knife from the sheath, easily gliding out of the holster, then bringing the curved point towards her neck. The sharp edge glistens in the daylight, the serrated edge grating aginst her forefinger. The safety of the sheath has gone, the blade is free to hunt and destroy. Sal watches the vision of her hand grasping the miniature sword as if from a great height looking down on herself from the girders of the room. She imagines the point of the curve moving towards her throat, she thinks this would be easy, it would all be over instantly. She has a vision of herself slashing into the jugular, blood spurting out from her human form, she would be dead instantaneously. Her demons, her pain and her existence would be no more, she had put an end to things.

At that instant the sun moved another degree around the building, sunlight pouring into the room full beam to remind Sal it was still there like the fully functional World. She flipped over onto her back, directly joining the waking world. Her breath was deep and her heart raped at full throttle. In coming back down from the adrenaline of the dream she began to think softly to herself ‘No I don’t want that’. She was low, but not that low, she looked to her right, the blade was no longer there, it had never existed in the reality of the daily spectrum. She engaged her mind in not finding an alternative, she must go on, things would be okay again.

She realised she had been spending too much time in bed, the smell of urine from low standard American plumbing engaging in the senses of its inhabitants combined with the makeup powder Debray of her fellow occupants was exasperating her misery. Too much time on her own dwelling over what had happened, she needed to get out and about, explore and take in what this secluded island had to offer. She dressed in her summer denim shorts, combining them with a seventies style retro print fitted T-Shirt, her clothes feeling loose as she had not eaten properly since she had been in Maine. A slice of pizza here and there combined with a few mouthfuls of the staff meals dished out routinely as part of the job. She didn’t bother to fix her hair and makeup, trying to look nice had seemed alien to her since her escape route across New England. She felt like hiding under a massive trench coat, but it was too warm to be practical.

On her wanders, Sal walks away from the hotel along the Sea front but away from the limited bustle of the Islands quasi-centre where the one independent bar and the mini supermarket where located. Towards the remoteness of the secluded beach area she walks, she veers toward a pebbled shore and a small boat yard. There were several vessels present, a large power vehicle pulled half out the water, moored securely but ready to use instantly when required. A second hand controlled craft was arched around with supports for repair works to be carried out. Then after passing a few nets she came across what seemed to be her destiny to find: a small vessel full of water. The small dingy like fibreglass body was filled to the brim with the liquid of the sea environment. A mix-up, a contradiction, outside in. The boat, which was supposed to float on and protect from water has filled the fluid and the surrounded area was dry as a bone. A conflict of reality where the void and the surrounding space where in contrast to the norm. Sal paused as she pondered over the topsy-turvy existence which had presented itself in her vision. Then she realises what had happened, this was not a supernatural experience, the vessel had simply collected rain water, the algae and sea plants had simply spread onto the marine vehicle. It was all perfectly normal, the seaman had not thought to store the hull upwards, left to nature’s devices it had been transformed into some kind of man made rock pool.

Sal walked on from the boat yard, further away from the tourist bustle and towards the most rural aspects of the shoreline. In this, she met a long term resident of Long Island, a pleasant lady with a dog on the leash due to the low-level traffic of the road, the occasional vehicle passing. She said hello to the lady as she seemed friendly, then in missed being near her family pet dog for several months she was delighted to see the canine. She bends down to stroke his shaggy fur, looking to run her hand around his chin. At the point, her hand pats her head the dog looks her straight in the face. His eyes protruding from the mountains of wiry hair. The expression on his face reads:

‘You don’t need to pet me, I’m not a silly dog.’

Sal was somewhat shocked by this unusual reaction from one of mans best friends. No affection needed, no love and attention required for this mutt. Then she realises he must be some kind of working dog, he had reacted like a border collie or something similar. In talking to its owner about the breed: it was a Briard. They were used as herding dogs, they were good for farms mucking in with sheep handling and agricultural jobs where ever necessary. They didn’t want petting, they were the kind of dog if you were to throw a ball for them and shouted fetch they would ignore it, but if you were wearing a cap and it blew off in the wind it would run half a mile to retrieve it and return it to your person. Sal looked at the animal fawn and shaggy, eyes were hidden by masses fur, looking dusty by character not but the day’s activities, what a magnificent beast.

She walks on, impressed by the owner and the dog she had met. In turning a corner she comes across what seems to be a derelict house. In true New England fashion, it was wood framed and painted white, its windows looked to contain a desolate interior, it’s shell once great now dishevelled and peeling from a period of neglect. The plant life had grown over the lower windows and the wildflowers were not of the carefully selected variety. To the front of the property stood a full-size flag pole with the stars and stripes fluttering in the wind. However, The Old Glory was being represented in that sense, torn and bedraggled it flapped around the former residence. It’s outer edges frayed across the stripes, the stars of the canton soiled, and almost blood like red threading down onto the white of the stripes. The star spangled banner representing the USA, the Worlds guardian with its military might and technological advancement. The leading Global economy looking avoid of inhabitants and soiled in appearance. Sal saw an America which had not been of her dreams, the Hollywood films and the advertising frenzies, she saw the real United States.

As it was beginning to turn dark she decides to head back to the hotel. In retracing her she began to comprehend what had really happened to her, why she had fled across New England, she had been Raped.

 

 

The Boilers Last Christmas

The Boilers last Christmas is a fictional works by Alison Little, the characters places and activities are not based on real life.

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Sal steps onto the stairs bearing a large Pot of boiling water towards the bathroom. She struggles slightly as it is heavy, the handle and it’s counterpart on the other side are are glowing from being on the gas rings. The boiler had started to go last year, it still produced some boiling water but not enough for a hot bath or could it dribble out more than a lukewarm filled sink for a morning facial wash. They were being evicted from the house after the Christmas holiday, the Bank were repossessing the little three bedroom terrace which they claimed was legally theirs, the courts being obliged to agree. The building trade had been hit hard by the nineties recession and Sals Dad could no longer make the mortgage repayments. Only safe for a few more days she thinks….

She takes another step up the stairs, steam coming from the bubbling water of the large cooking pot. The cast aluminium vessel was meant for Jam and wine making, both activities enjoyed by her parents, it had then come in handy when the boiler had stopped being forthcoming with enough warm water for a bath. Sal’ parents had brought it second hand from a car boot sale before she was born, it was from an era when things were made to last, coming with its own fully interlocking and steamer spout lid. Heavy-duty and fully functional which easily outstripped contemporary demand for cheap, press formed imports flooding the cookware markets. It was the fourth of four pots of boiling water of this size, plus a few kettles and smaller pots. She had decided to get it really hot and add bubble bath, take her time and relax while she was still safe.

Her foot raises over the creaky step, an automatic response as she had been doing so since childhood. Not that it made much difference now, the carpet had gone, her parents had held back on replacing it as they had been making the pennies stretch, then when they knew the house was being taken they didn’t bother to fund a new one. Her Dad had felt like this about everything in the house for the last year since the threat of Bankruptcy had become a reality. He had become miserable about everything, the voice of doom and gloom flooding the small interior on every possible occasion. His recession-depression was destroying Christmas, there was no real happiness and the presents were even grudgingly wrapped. Only safe for a few more days……………..

Sal enters the bathroom and pours the last pot of water into the steaming hot tub, the bubbles frothing up, even more, inviting than normal as luxuries such as bubble bath had been neglected as of late. It was cold outside, Sal looked out at the back garden as she closed the frosted glass window. The white on the grass had still not defrosted, the shed and the roofs of the terraces opposite still glistened from a night of below zero temperatures. The small plum tree looked dead from winter’s worst weather and there was no sign of any hope from a robin or a starling joining the form. Shivering slightly she locks the door and begins to undress, slowly taking off her clothes item by item. She looks down at her breasts, although she was seventeen she looked much younger, they had hardly developed at all. Her hands felt over the miniature bosom form, she had no real cleavage of any form and looked unlikely to start developing one any day soon. She thought of the other girls at six form she envied, those who looked their age and could fill out low cut cleavage exposing tops.

Sal stretches back in the bath thinking through the plans she had made for the week after next, she had arranged to work extra shifts at her part-time job and knew what days she could stay late in the six-form centre, ensuring her Mum and Dad would be at home when she returned. Sal relaxes in the tub of luxurious steamingly hot water, she knew she will get very little sleep next week, remember how on edge she was last time he was there. She had re-arranged her box room, she had the bedstead against the wall by the door so she can hear if he tries to come in. The bedside table ready to be moved across the opening edge of the door, the small latch locked, both should be enough to bar entry while she dosed.

She lies back with conditioner soaking in, she would try and make her hair look nice and add makeup to try and look older later on when she gets out the bath. Surrounded by the comfort of the bubbles as she gazes towards the door they begin to burst rapidly. She remembers back to how it had all began, Jack her elder brother had been at home from the Army on Leave. He had always found ways to terrorise her and her other Brother Craig, this time he began by pretending he didn’t know she was there, walking around naked from the bathroom, deliberately forgetting a towel when he knew they were alone in the house. This had progressed to Jack starting to play with himself, casually as if it was normal behaviour. He went further, asking Sal to play with it for him, telling her I bet she did that for all her boyfriends.

From that point onwards Sal had made it her mission to never be alone with Jack in the House again. Rising off the conditioner she heard her Mother come in the main door, trying to make the most of things she was singing Christmas Carols and telling her Dad off for complaining as they brought in the festive food shopping. Sal remembers the weak part of her plans, the Sunday morning when her parents go food shopping, she would get up early at the same time as then and take the dog for a long walk. Her lovingly affectionate furry terrier would enjoy a two to three-hour ramble down by the river, she would be safely out of the house. Sal hears a kind of hissing sound from the airing cupboard behind her head, then she can smell smoke drifting into the bathroom. It really was the boilers last Christmas, it was no more.

Playing God

Playing God is a fictional short Story written by Alison Little. A section of the prose was read aloud at the North End Writers Christmas Party on Wednesday the 14th of December 2016. The illustrations accompany the text.

Playing God

Where am I? I am in a tiny secluded office like room with no windows but two doors. Sitting on a large throne shaped chair my elbows rest on a solid mahogany desk from the era when furniture was built to last, where mortise joints were steamed and structures were for eternity. On the table, I have a small bell, some kind of brass doorbell embedded to the surface of the desk. In front of the bell, there is a copper sign with ‘Press to save’ engraved onto its surface. On the door to the left, there is a sign which says ‘Life Portal’ on the counterpart to the right the sign reads ‘Hell Portal’. The room is dark with only an old fashioned strip light with a bottle green glass shade. Muffling and voices can be heard from another room, anxiously, I wait looking for more indicators to what is about to take place.

There is a crashing of a security shutter being pulled up then through a small kennel sized opening comes two figures, my mother and an armed guard holding a knife to her throat.

‘Mum, are you Okay?’

‘Yes’ she exclaims, ‘Don’t worry about me’ Scared but putting a brave face on things. Through some kind of Tannoy system, I hear some kind of commandment;

‘Press the Button if you want to save her’

No question, no doubt no thoughts in the back of my mind, I press the button quickly and surely and say my goodbye’s to my Mother as she is escorted through the life portal.

The Guard then disappears back through the opening, as I hear the security barrier go up I am listening to a woman arguing about changing the time of the appointment and that it would be better if……………………The Guard returns with a rather small dark haired man with his hair swept to one side. A small narrow moustache and dark eyes with a fixated stare. Although the guard has a knife to his throat he is standing upright and very composed. Then, I recognise him, it is Hitler of course. The Fuhrer, the leader of Nazi Germany, the man at the centre of World War Two and the Holocaust. The Man behind the Genocide of five and a half million Jews, Nineteen Million civilians and Prisoners of War during the deadliest conflict in human history.

‘Press the button to save’

Is heard from the Tannoy. Well, I can’t possibly save him can I, it would be unethical. I leave the button as it is and the guard manoeuvres him into the Hell portal. The door has a kind of airlock, like a walk in fridge, no further sounds can be heard.

As the security barrier goes back up I hear the voice of the woman that was arguing before talking to one of the other prisoners:

‘I can’t believe how immature the Guards are.’

Then I recognise the voice, of course, it is my Sister-in-Law, the ultimate example of a Power-Crazed-Hag. The Guard pulls the next man in through the entrance, we have a Uniformed Police Constable standing tall and resolute with the knife held to his throat, not flinching or showing any real fear of the Guard. We have a PC who died on duty, a man who never stood a chance, a tragedy. A man who left a devastated family behind, two boys so young that they would never really know their Father. My chance to put a wrong right, no choice what so ever, I press the button satisfied that real good has been done.

Again, I can hear my Sister-in-Laws voice float through the opening barrier, seems to be some kind of discussion about how she had to pay for something. Next, we have someone I haven’t seen for over thirty years, someone I was barely able to remember before he died, someone who was wonderful, someone who was a joy; my brother Godfrey. He is smiling at me ‘ all grown up’ not like the four-year-old he had left behind. Godfrey had died when he was only just a teenager, he had been killed on the by-pass, a came of chicken turned fatal. Now it was my turn to save him, the other way round from when we are young. Press, press, press the button.

‘Go and see Mum’

I tell him as he goes towards the life portal. A tear runs down my face, another wrong undone, another good person was taken to quickly returned to the World which he should never have left.

I can hear a sniggering laugh, a kind of low volume giggle that resonates on the soul as opposed to simply an irritant. I can see who it is: Henry Pope.

‘H-e-l-l-o H-e-n-r-y’

I whisper quietly and slowly trying not to show I was arching my back. Henry Pope had live at the back of us on our Estate, the same year as my brother Graham at school, slightly older than myself. So who was Henry Pope? Two of the boys in my Primary school class had died before adulthood in tragic accidents, Henry Pope had been there on both occasions. The first had been Nigel, he had lived further down from us on the Street, his Mother Anne and my Mother were very good friends and still are to this day, a friendship formed on the shared loss of teenage sons in unfortunate circumstances. Nigel and Henry had been playing football near the train line, they had gone onto the tracks together to retrieve their ball. Henry had been following Nigel when the train had plummeted towards them, Henry was unscarred by the incident, Nigel made it to the hospital but he never survived the surgeon’s knife.

A few years later Henry was involved in another accident, this time, it was Mark’ turn to die. They had sloped off early from school as one of the lads had passed his driving test at just seventeen, literally a crash course in every sense of the word. The driven had been so keen to learn to drive it was pretty much all he had talked about for years, he had passed and got a car within a month of his seventieth birthday, all the lads had got in the car and they were driving out of town. Mark had been sitting in the front, Sam and Harry in the back. Adrenaline was pumping and the car had crashed not far from the main bridge over the River. Mark had died instantly, Ben the driver had almost died and spent three months in intensive care, then a further period of recovery before he came home from the hospital. Sam in the back had a broken arm a few facial cuts and was clearly shaken up by the whole thing. Henry Pope got out of the Car and he was fine, there was not a mark or a scratch on him. When the Police came to the scene of the accident and the paramedics were doing what they could the Officers had interviewed Gary about what had happened then they told him he could go, letting him walk home alone from the fatal accident. They had not wanted him getting in the car with them, to this day the Police are still scared to nick him and try to avoid having to put him in the back of a squad car.

I kept a look out for Sam for a few days after everything had happened until I bumped into him in the close where he lived. He was clearly devastated, I wanted to know the details, if Gary Henry Pope had been messing around banging the chair of tightening the seat belt around the driver’s shoulders, that would make sense: being in two similar accidents if he had been fooling around. HE HAD NOT BEEN DOING ANYTHING AT ALL. Now that didn’t make sense, there was no logical explanation other than Henry was fated, the Omen. Sam felt responsible but I reassure him it wasn’t his fault there was no other explanation than Henry had something wrong with him, then I managed to make him smile I flashed him a tiny little smile till he smiled a little bit, then I gave him a full smile and he returned the gesture. At that point in time, he didn’t think he’d ever smile again, but he had managed it.

Henry Pope then became known as the Omen, everyone tried to avoid being around him and it lasted for years, until this day with everyone who knew what had happened. If you found yourself on an usually packed local train when you asked why it was so busy it would turn out Gary had been on the earlier train and everyone had waited for the later train, edging on the safe side. Everyone in his form class at school had started avoiding coming into school and others were thinking about transferring. When he was older Pubs would empty when he came in. So should I save Henry Pope? Is it the same as Hitler, unethical to save him. But, then there is a difference: Hitler’ actions were Evil, Gary Monks is the embodiment of Evil in the human form. If I don’t save him he will go through the hell portal and my main concern is that Earth will de-combust into a hundred thousand pieces and sink to the bottom of the Universe, the end of eternity. So-it-has-to-be-a-save, I-press-the-button-very-slowly. I look away as he thanks me and I say ‘Sorry Mum’ under my breath as she will have to sit with him.

Again, the Belfast accent spoke from my power-crazed sister-in-law asking if she can re-arrange the appointment…In comes the guard with another girl, thankfully not my sister-in-law. She has flaxen blond hair, Saxon in heritage, pretty and very afraid shaking as the guard holds a knife to her throat. Attractive even with her mascara streaked over her face, around her mid-twenties, then I recognise the girl. It is Bea Richards from my degree course; a damsel in distress, a maiden at the hands of a merciful killer. With the fair skin of Snow White, the fragility of sleeping Beauty but without the ability to look after herself shown by Princess Zelda. Minor Aristocracy, a modern day lady from the famous Hogarth painting where the wealthy gentlewomen are being protected from the sight of a peasant woman being attacked. There must be no choice but to save this girl from the fires of Hell? I simply must press the button…

Then I doubt crosses my mind when I remember that Bea had been employed as an undercover Police Woman. She had fallen under the remit of a thirty-year policy of the British Police to actively recruit weak, feeble girls to play the live at home student part they plant on every degree course. Girls that can gloss up as being from a wealthy background, girls that are intended to function as ‘Posh Totty’. Clean cut good girls, wide-eyed for morning lectures while everyone else is recovering from getting high the night before. Girls that functioned in a role where they could have walked off the cover of a 1950’s edition of Women’ Realm: Prim, proper and correctly poised while adorning tools of perfect domesticity. Modelling tea trays, following the instructions of knitting patterns and making perfect jam, girls that represented role models in the pre-effection contraception generation of 1950’s Britain. However, this decade had passed, so the inevitable happened and these girls were to be knocked out of the way by the courage of the modern women, girls that were young free and single, the girls who were there to embrace the liberation of third generation feminism at the turn of the Millenium. Perfect smiles were outdone by sexual poses, cake makers were ignored to focus on those drinking wine and larger, searching for a perfect fiance were pushed aside by rock star behaviour.

Undercover Policewomen socially engineered to function as the ‘One’ that everyone fancies, but then despite being an attractive girl Bea had failed in this capacity. In the way of so many daughters of High ranking Police Officers she had not been written down as being an attractive girl, she had been written down as being a stunningly beautiful girl, a girl which if she was put next to one of the most glamorous Hollywood actresses she would be unquestionable as gorgeous. The ‘Posh Totty’ credentials were exaggerated, claims to being Aristocracy seemed to amount to little more than if the family were of that classes the Nobility would really rather have preferred it if that was not the case. So instead of the Police assigning Bea to a course where she could play her part as the ‘Pretty Posh One’ she was sent into another course, one where the other girls were every bit as attractive and equally as well spoken.

To some degree, it was not Bea’ fault, if she had been assigned to a course where the other girls were ugly and common she may have been able to function as desired. Her credentials were not entirely her fault, if she had been a recipe in one of the Women’s Realm magazines it would have read:

Take two ounces of week, combine with three ounces of feeble using an outdated spoon. Add some bottle, don’t worry about using too much as none of it will ever show up. If it seems a little slow on the uptake don’t concern yourself as it will probably get there in the end. Ensure you store in a safe place so as it remains sheltered.

However, what else did she do in her capacity of working for the Police? She was slow on the uptake, always the last to find out about anything that was going on, on overhearing a dirty word she would then go and write a lengthy Police report about disgusting language leading to her course mates being checked unnecessarily for extremely explicit language. She had managed to interpret a victim of childhood sexual abuse clashing with an abuser as:

‘They had to be the one getting chatted up’

She had failed to try and find out what had happened in a Rape case when the predator was later to strike again. After the final exams when everyone had been out to celebrate they had been attacked on leaving the bar, Bea had stood there and done nothing while the other girls thought them off. The last act in her undercover capacity on the degree course had been after she had been informed about her former partner engaging in the services of sex workers, a matter the Police Woman was unable to determine for herself, was the write a lengthy, tear stained Police report about herself ‘Being Copied’.

So, the dilemma is she doesn’t deserve to die, but in view of her actions does she deserve to be saved?

In struts her Father, a buffoon of a Man who is a high ranking Police Officer;

‘This is preposterous, you must save my daughter.’

As I begin to simulate questions in regards to how have her actions justified saving we are interrupted by a knocking from the inside of the life portal. The Police Constable from earlier comes through the portal:

‘Take me instead’ he insists.

‘Yes take him instead and save my daughter, it’s what those people are for.’

directs her Father.

‘GET BACK INTO THE LIFE PORTAL’

I insist, again satisfied that I had made the right choice in saving him, forever the hero. I then question her Father in regards to how Bea’ actions could justify her being saved?

‘My daughter is not supposed to be capable of doing anything of value, despite which you were jealous of her because she is the most gorgeous girl in the whole word and besides which I didn’t like you using bad language in front of her.’

‘But she didn’t try and find out anything in a Rape case.’ I respond.

‘She not expected to be able to do anything about that, that’s not what Policewomen are for and she was very upset when you copied her.’

He spits out.

At this point I realise that there is no point in arguing with the Buffoon of a man further, I must make up my mind in regards to pressing the save button. A solution to the dilemma, I address the Tannoy;

‘How many times are you allowed to press the save button?’

‘Difficult to determine’ It responds blankly.

‘Can she be taken back into the holding cell then if everyone who deserves to be saved, has been sent to the Life portal then she can follow those that are worthy?

There is a kind of snuffling through the Tannoy, my direction seems to have been taken as she is guided back through the security barrier. Her Father is still murmurs about it being preposterous but seems to disappear.

The guard leads in a man massive in bulk, looming above and across him, no real fight in him but a clear physical winner in any battled which is to be presented to him. Sharp in his movements, almost overacting when he steps forward or moves his arms, like a performer in a silent movie trying to over emphasise his movements so the audience will understand what is going on. He looks through me like I am nothing, not there, not anything, no recognition, no internal doubts in himself to question his actions, any thoughts that his actions might have been wrong. We have a serial rapist. I speak very, very quietly to the Tannoy:

‘I-can-not-save-him’ I whisper.

The Tannoy instructs the guard towards the hell portal. Suddenly he speaks:

‘I assume that’s over there.’

He could see and hear everything the whole time, almost dismissive in his actions, no fear of Hell, no arguing with my choice…..After a pause which feels like it lasted for eternity the Tannoy then addresses the Man:

‘Do you have any fear of going to Hell, any apprehensions at all?’

‘Not really’ He dismisses the question ‘Wait, will my Mother be there?’ he asks.

‘Yes your Mother is there, has been for years, will be there for eternity.’

‘I don’t want to see her again’ he responses.

‘Well, you have no choice. GO’ the Tannoy directs.

A vision emerges, the giant lobster enters a man size stockpot of boiling water, as the water bubbles through the steamer basket the creature becomes motionless. And he is gone from the World I inhabit, no longer free to harm others, I don’t know how to feel. Emotionless, no gratification through my actions, no sense of redemption, nothing….

In front of me stands a warm and welcoming man, a grandad type character, larger than life and full of cheer. Red faced from whisky, beaming a wide smile from above his windspeed flowing white beard. Tubby with a wide dark belt strapped around his red, fur trimmed suit and accompanying hat; we have Santa Clause.

‘Why are you here Santa?’

I ask, surprised at being sent a fictional character.

‘There has been a lot of objections to myself during the last decade.’

Santa then begins to outline the reasons he has been objected against. People are now saying that it is wrong for parents to lie to their children, the whole Chris Columbus thing is being considered engaging in this process. Others are claiming that Santa over commercialises Christmas, Religion is knocked out of the way in favour of accessive gift giving. Faiths outside Christianity are saying they don’t like him and he’s nothing to do with them, in a modern politically correct culture we can’t be seen to be upsetting marginalised sections of society. Some say Santa is patriarchal, a man at the reigns, bringing the toys to provide for the children while his good wife stays at home. His pursuits, drinking whisky and flying sledges are said to be male dominated and women have started to find ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ offensive.

‘So what will happen if I don’t save you Santa, will you burn in Hell for eternity?’ I question.

‘No, I have to do the equivalent thing for Hell that I do for Earth. The reindeer are ditched; I get a collection of hyenas and a maroon fire-proof suit. Then I fly around hell coming down to surface level to set fire to anything which could be considered pleasant: the odd wild thistle or a nice nature miniature lizard.’ My beard becomes blood stained, my skin is grey and weathered and I have a red hat with a devils fork at the end of its tail. An air of Krampus is created, absinth is present on the breath, the hand has been replaced by a hook. The sack of presents have gone and there is to be a rodent in controlled of a fire blowing automatic weapon.

I think we best save Santa, I press the button.

‘Life portal Santa, it was a pleasure and by the way, I don’t mind you being a little patriarchal…..’

Santa saunters off, full of joy to join the others, a myth worth saving.

And now we get the final person, she has stopped arguing, the re-scheduling queen, a woman who exists simply to re-arrange everything and everyone to her own convenience. A woman who amounts to the ultimate example of a Power-Crazed-Hag: the sister-in-law. A social worker by profession, also on the Police’s books giving her warped interpretations of what has happened through Police reports backed up by an endless queue of false expenses claims. Women who will stop at nothing to escalate her own importance and gain dominance. A woman who is married to an abuser, a woman who’s former partner is also an abuser. Women who misled a rape investigation to satisfied her overweening desire to be in-charge of everything. A woman who is no victim, a woman who is an accomplice in evil.

‘HellO Ali’

She says in her social services you are obliged to put up with me whether you like it or not tone. I refuse to make eye contact and don’t respond, talking to her is simply beneath myself or anyone else with any real values. I address the Tannoy;

‘There is no way I am saving her!’ the Tannoy responds to ask if I would like more time, I decline to offer and as she goes through the Hell portal I surmise it’s simply for the greater good for those on Earth that she isn’t there to do any more damage. After what feels like an eternity of waiting, unsure of what is to come next I hear a faint knocking from the Hell portal. I am presented with the Devil, but as opposed to being inflamed and demanding he is polite and forbidding in his manner. He stands in front of myself, almost bow like with the fork of his tail tucked neatly over his poised arms.

‘Will you take this woman back?’ he asks.

‘No’ I respond.

‘I don’t want her’ he continues.

‘Neither do I’ I finish off with.

‘Can I leave Hell if I promise to be good?’

‘No, do your Job!’

Alison Little

 

Lennon, Bowie, Eric’s and some classic contempt for Thatcher brought back to life by the legendary Philip Hayes

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Philip Hayes, the man behind the Picket, the man who helped launch The La’s, the Farm and the man who has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Elvis Costello and the Who. After a long and varied career in the music industry, everything eventually gets too much for Philip, after a media headlining incident at an awards ceremony in 2013 he was to suffer a breakdown. In recovery, he returned to the medium of collage and bring us ‘To hell in a hand- cart’ exhibited at Unit 51 in the Baltic Triangle.

Philip’ informative years were spent in Croxteth, his parents were originally from ‘Scotty’ Road, his Nin having a hand- cart where she sold fruit and veg from in ‘Greaty’ market, a subversive reference to the title of the exhibition. Although his family life was full of childhood joys his academic life was haunted by tough experiences at senior school, John “Hammo”, high School in Everton.

Being the first in his family to successfully pass the 11+ he was sent to school in Everton, through unhappiness with his contemporaries he withdrew into himself and was eventually expelled. After a few minor scrapes with the law, he began a youth training scheme followed by a period in a band, The High Five.

His adult career began when he started ‘The Picket’, in recession ridden Merseyside in the 1980’s this was a scheme for unemployed young people who wanted to enter the Music Industry. Many came through his doors including bands such as the La’s, Rain, The Hoovers and the Farm.

Big names then came on board: Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Elvis Costello, supporting the venture. Due to problems with the building, it was necessary to relocate, so in 2006 Picket 2 was opened with a ground -breaking performance from Deaf School in the Baltic Triangle. Picket 2 being the first and only creative business to locate in this pre-Capital of Culture area of the city, it was an isolated cultural business in an area which was yet to be known as ‘The Baltic Triangle.

After a night of heavy drinking at an awards ceremony, there was a well-publicised incident, which led to Philip suffering a breakdown in 2013. After a spell in Broad Green psychiatric hospital, he was to return home. Now jobless through a parting of ways from the Picket, he was to suffer a second more serious breakdown resulting in a longer spell in hospital.

In recovery, Philip was to return to working on collages which he had begun working on from the early years after the Millennium. The themes of his montages vary around the Merseyside Music scene: Lennon, the Cavern, Erics, Cream, Sound City and Threshold Festivals, Liverpool football Club, Hillsborough and mental health units such as Windsor House take over this new exhibition space at Unit 51. The wall-based pieces are a montage of the memorabilia he collected over the last three decades. Club flyers, gig tickets, cuttings and article snippets are combined with found object: Lennon style glasses, bucket hats embroidered with the Cream logo, original CD’s and records combined with trinkets of gig-going life. Handwritten annotation is added to the cut-out images, Lennon has been labelled ‘Angel of Truth’ and given flamed wings. Low tech green poster paint and biro fuel sprawl etch ‘Tramp the Dirt Down’ to an image of Thatcher in the height of 1980’s Tory governance.

So what’s next for Philip after moving on from the down times of the past and bringing us his first major solo exhibition as an Artist? He is planning a new collection themed simply around ‘Liverpool’. Local big name photographers such as Mark McNulty, John Johnson, Dave Evans, Billy Griff and Graham Smilie have donated their back catalogue of images for him to use. Not forgetting his routes in social enterprise he as brought in a young protege photographer, Teresa Hardy’ giving her a foot into the creative sector. In addition to this, he is helping to produce a new album aimed at ending the stigma around mental health, tracks from the Who, the Zutons’ and Deaf School to raise funds for the Samaritans, Safe and the Belve youth centre. An autobiography is also in the pipelines ‘Crocky to Tocky, via Hell in a Hand Cart’ looking to begin writing next year.

A raw, unnurtured artist talent to emerge on the Liverpool visual arts scene, bringing the energy that was ‘The Picket’ to the exhibition venue’ of the Baltic Triangle and the across the cultural Metropolis we love to call Liverpool.

Original and signed limited edition prints are available.

Unit 51, Jamaica Street Liverpool L1 0AH

Monday to Saturday

12:00pm – 2:00pm

Exhibition continues until December 8th.

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