Thursday, 19 February 2009


The children are crying

The last time I saw Zig-Zag was on the huge staircase that spirals through the centre of the Storey like DNA, next to a greasy streak caused by decades of kids running their fingers along the wall. I was one of those kids, I was in that grease mark, my DNA.

I can picture Zig-Zag now, his furry face stained rose and peach from the light spilling in from the stained glass window, and I don’t know if the idea of running away had entered its head, but if this story had a voice-over it would say ‘unknown to Fern and Zig-Zag this was the last time they would ever see each other…’

Fern and Zig-Zag was a long goodbye and Fern and Charlie’s goodbye was even longer, beginning fifteen years before. But the way he tells it, the poem, the absence of a reply, it’s very unfair. He should have made the running, set the pitch. He was the grammar school boy after all, with his blazer with piping and the special white cream for his pumps. It irked him that I studied here at the Storey and ended up at the university and he at the lino factory, and would brandish his fist and drawl ‘Power to the people,’ whenever I mentioned it. The 11 plus broke us all up. Two trucks rumbled up the street, one bound for the grammar school and one for the Storey Institute. I’m sure I passed the exam - girls performed better than boys so they used to fiddle the figures – but officially, I failed.

But The Storey did me proud. We got instruction in practical skills, like typing, plastering, plumbing, and the like, but we got science and philosophy and French and art as well. I remember Dave, my first boyfriend, posing for his passing out picture, holding up his plumbing piece, a Mondrian squiggle of welded pipes, like a work of sculpture.

Find Zig-Zag please.

(I like what Charlie says in his blog about the night at that art launch at the storey gallery. I remember it that way too. Have a look here.)

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