Ongoing extracts from four short stories linked with ‘ The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley’ poetry collection

The Mother: The Best


I owe Kath a lot, kid, but there comes a time when you know nothings changed, that you want more. I think it was the night of her birthday that did it for me.

LINDA NOV. 18TH 1992

Doesn’t the bride look beautiful? Eh! Why’s everybody got sad faces? Irs a wedding isn’t it? Her dad’s died! Poor soul. I don’t know why you want to interview me. I’m just an ordinary
housewife. Kath. Move over and I’ll tell you about her. You’ve got a tear in your jeans. Eh! Watch yourself, kid. Half a chance I’ll have ’em off.

You won’t tell anybody will you? Will you? Kath took me in when I needed. it. I went to the football club and her son Neil was performing. There wasn’t ~ seats but she ushered me over and said ‘No need to be on your own lass. Sit with us.’ and I did.
I enjoyed the company, kid.
I told her my name was Linda and she said I know.
0, sorry, kid. Ive got this habit of touching people when I’m chatting. It doesn’t mean owt.
Anyway I was shocked that people had been talking about me. Did she know something about me? Had she contact with my husband? You know the worries, But she said Don’t fret lass. I’m clairvoyant.
That was a relief.
I told her this night was a one off; that I was more used to sitting on the edge of the bed every .night and not venturing downstairs, Going out rare if ever. This night was a one off when I’d arranged a baby-sitter for my little boy, Ben – You don’t mind children do you, kid ? .. I’d just started one day a week in the market and got some extra cash. Then she told me more about myself than I thought nobody else knew.
When my husband was threatening me .. we’d separated- Kath said Ben and me could stay over at hers. Where do you come from?

KATH :- Don’t talk while turn’s on.

INTERVIEWERS DIARY NOV 18TII 1992 WORKING MEN’S CLUB-SCENE OF KATH’S BIRTHDAY AND WEDDING RECEPTION OF TRACY AND BILL. Decor reminds me of the film ‘Kes’. That scene in a working men’s club. Purple upholstered chairs. Backdrop of the stage like silver tinsel around Christmas trees. There’s gold tinsel too. Neil, the singer and Buff, his technical help have been heaving the speakers onto the raised wooden stage. Neil checks the sound system and his tapes. He’s been asked to perform at the reception. Likes Neil Diamond: sings ‘Crackling Rosie’ and asks us if the sound is O.K. We s’W yes. Kath his mother and organiser of the group I’m recording is talking business with the management, She dresses in black, as do the rest of them. Accepted hanger-on wear. (The rest of the group agree with hers and Henry Ford’s notions on the appropriate fan’s colour.) She also wears a jewelled butterfly brooch. Just talked to Linda. She laughs easily and has the kind of smile that makes me weak at the knees. She’s stunning in black leggings
and black silk jacket. Would you believe she’s forty? Buff is very protective 0/ her. He moved to sit with us when I introduced myself. He is BIG. With a little encouragement from Linda (She hugged his arm and made it into a joke) he reluctantly agreed to be recorded.

My name? is … er … Buff. Do? Help Neil set up.
Kath? At one of Neil’s gigs. He’d been coping by himself. I think … yes … at the Pheasant. I got
up to give him a hand. Been with him since. Kath uses my video and tapes to record Neil on
Linda and Maggie? I go out with them on a Tuesday night. Make sure they don’t get any
Live? With my parents. Work? Various, checking pipes under houses. Various. Drink? Yes,
it’s a whisky. Linda and Maggie worry I drink too much.
Girlfriends? Once. Not saying.
I’ve got a recorder like that. Let’s have a look.


Kath’s got a dog you know? Haven’t you Kath!
• Linda, I believe in respect and good manners.
– (whispering to Interviewer) Kath doesn’t like us talking while Neil’s… I was saying about Smudge.
– Shhh. While acts on. (Kath smiles while she says this.)


The air is cold. Kath greets no one when she enters with Neil and Kerry, his wife· When she sits down she refuses a drink. Everyone says ‘Hello. Happy Birthday.’ Linda introduces me. Kath gives me a cursory glance then she gets up and goes to talk to the Bingo caller.
I ask Linda “What’s wrong?”
She says “Ignore it. Kerry bought Linda something for her birthday she didn’t like.” Kath’s son Neil is all apologetic to his mum but he knows he has a show to put on.

INTERVIEWERS DIARY mewspaper extract, wedding photo and piece.
Pictured after their wedding at Barnsley Registry Office are Tracy Lister and William Widdop. Tracy is the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Lister, Green Lane, Gawber and William the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Maudslay, Skinpit Close, Darton. The couple held a reception at High Green Working Men’s Club, High Green, and spent their honeymoon at Mablethorpe.

LISTER, Ernest –
Precious memories of a loving Husband, Dad, and Grandad, who died on November 18 at the Wedding of his daughter.
Words are few, thoughts are deep, Memories of you will always keep.
-From loving wife Ann, daughter Tracy and Bill, son Jim and Mary.


~ What’s to do? We can’t celebrate when her dad’s just died at altar.
~ Be respectful. All we can. Congratulate her and him on their wedding but sympathise at the death of her father .
• When Martha’s son Lozzy di>~he had a dream. She dreamt that she was the best at growing lilies but they overran her hous:’
~ She’s weird anyroad. Staying in all the livelong …


0, God. Neils playing this again. I hate dancing to this , you know. Be back soon, kid. And don’t watch me dance. I’m awful. You don’t know this, love. You’ve led a sheltered life, kid. It’s called ‘Running Bear.’ Kath likes us to dance it together. All girls, you know.


‘The next song is for somebody very special to me. My mum. I
There is a ripple of applause as Kath stands prompted by Neil. It’s her birthday today. I
The applause gets louder.
We hear the introduction to Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ and when Kath gets up to dance for the first time that evening all the lasses get up. Linda asks me whether I mind. It doesn’t make any difference to me and I am surprised that she’s asked such a question. We are not that close yet.
Neil sings.
Neil is looking at Tracy, the bride. Kerry dancing with the other girls acts as if she hasn’t noticed. I glance over at Buff who leans ov~r as if I’ve given a sign I want to talk to him. Tracy is dancing without Bill. She’s dancing with her girlfriends. She smiles at him and whispers something into her friends ear. They giggle.



Buff’s downstairs, love.
I don’t know how to get rid of him.

What’s Buff been saying to you?
You’ve got to watch Buff. Don’t let him scare you. He doesn’t scare you does he ,kid? He sometimes says things that aren’t true. No, I’ve never been with him. And no I don’t fancy him if that’s what’s been worrying you.
Buff walked me home, kid. He’s downstairs now, playing with Ben and the dog. I don’t know what to say to him, love. He’s capable of anything, and you know how strong he is. He’s kind walking me home but I can’t talk to him like I can talk to you. The last song that I dragged him up to dance was one of your favourites. ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’
I only need him up here in case He, you know -my last husband,shows his face. Like He does when I’m not expecting it. And the dogs no bloody use. I wish Ben would look after it more. Take it out and feed it. He’s old enough now. And the sofas full of dog hairs. Every time I go through the front room I’m picking up bloody hairs. And it costs to feed it. It’s eating everything in sight. All it’s rubber toys have lost their squeak, Thank God. Sorry God for blaspheming. But He understands doesn’t He? I think it eats them. Buff bought him a new plastic bed that’s on it’s way out. I’m at the end of my bloody tether. The gardens a mess with him digging his way out and Ben’s always afraid that the dog will scarper out the front door whenever anybody opens it. Like his last one did and we never saw it again.
I wish I could get everything straight in this house.


No, it’s OK. I’m getting her a drink. And something special she likes. I always buy the girls a Pepperami. Yes, it’s a Pepprami, kid. Linda likes one with her half lager. What do you want, kid? No, I insist.
What do you think of Lindas bedroom, kid? The bed’s a bit hard, eh! Make sure you treat her right. You’ll have me to answer to, if you don’t.
The way she eats a Pepperami puts the Flake advert to shame. Carefully peeling off the see-through wrapper as if it was a condom. I felt embarrassed and excited. She just laughed when she looked at me and licked around the stick before the quick dip over the lips into her mouth.

Neil was on stage singing ‘Fever’. He’d got a lass to sit on a chair he’d placed in the middle of the stage. Then he’d switch the tape deck on and gyrate his thighs and put his leg on the chair suggestively. He always picked one of the fatter lasses. All her mates were giggling. I felt embarrasse
d for her. I asked her afterwards what she felt. Said I was doing a radio programme on Club singers. She said ‘It’s a bit of fun int it. Makes the night. ‘

A bloody dog attacked me on the way home. I know the owner. He was at the Club when that couple got married. Dog were called Gonna and came at me. Buff got in it’s way. Bill, that’s the name of the owner. Anyway he calls out ‘Gonna ’11 not hurt thee lass. Will tha fella.’ While the dog were up at me face barking like hell. I had a notion to take Bill aside and ask if I could borrow his dog for the duration. Lot better than that bloody soft animal we’ve got downstairs. No, daft sod I’m not talking about Buff, love. Any way Bill took me to one side and said ‘He’s back. Him and his mates were driving around in a car. Only r l ee t Lngc., Don’t know what he was doing round here.’ There’s only one rea”n« for Him to be round here. Me. Mark my words. He’ll be visitIng. God am I glad Buff came back with me.


Yes, I go out with Linda and Maggie on a Tuesday night. What’s it matter?
I can handle myself. Last Tuesday in the men’s bogs at Wath two lads either side of me. Saying things like ‘Lass int leggings and-black jacket is a bit of alright. Wouldn’t push her out o’bed in a hurry. Tha won’t mind would tha, mate. Their our shout and going to waste with thee.’ I slammed ’em agin the wall and gave ’em what for. Linda and Maggie got no more trouble rest of night. Listen lad I’ll not have anybody hurting them, alright. OK, kid. Just so long as you know.
I get angry. S’why I don’t drink. As much as I have done when I were younger. I can handle myself, kid. You’ve no worries on that score.


How am I to get rid of him? I tell him ‘It’s time I went to bed Buff.’ Not being offensive or ought and he totally ignores me. Or just laughs it off. How do I do it? Yes, without offending him. Cos he’s a good mate, really. I know he comes on a bi t strong and I can’t cope with it right at this minute. I’ve told him again and again and again’that there’s nought between us, but he just won,t listen. I mean I’ve asked him to lose a bit of weight. I couldn’t fancy him the state he’s in. You know the kind of men with bodies I fancy, don’t you?

I wish he’d drink less. Cos me and you know he drinks too much. And that puts on weight doesn’t it? And it’s bound to affect his heart int it, love? He told me tonight that he’s been having dizzy spells. I told him · Get to a Doctor!’ But he says he won’t cos all they’ll tell him to do is lose weight.
I mean I’m going to have to cut down. I can only afford cheap cans from Lateshopper, as you know from those you brought up last night. You know, 3% gravity. He bought some to bring up, but he drinks so slow. He’s put t i ng in another phone for me, upstairs. For if He comes again and unplugs them. Then I can get Ben to come up here. Send him out of the room so he can switch the alarm on the new phone.


Her house was situated in a cul-de-sac. The last one at the end of the road. Her window looked out on the moors.
Inside the decor was sparse but comfortable. The cassette player was opposite the sofa. There was a wooden coffee table in front of the sofa, under which were piles of magazines and newspapers. The mos t noticeable magazine was Cosmopoli tan. ‘How to improve the intensity and frequency of your orgasms’. Lying crisp and clean on the table when I arrived. Also on the table was an ash tray and one of those spindly plants that does not need water. The dogs tail kept brushing the tendrils of the plant as it flapped past in a friendly wag. Linda shouted ‘Kitchen!’ to the animal who cowered before her voice and retreated through the open plan to the kitchen, passing through the dining room. I sat on the sofa because there was Ben’s Micro machines and coat on the single chair. When the dog was let out through the French window in the ‘Games’ room which con tained Ben’s Snooker cum Pool table she told me ‘Watch him like a hawk. He digs up the garden plants.’ He’s Border Collie cross, black and white, and fit as a rake. He’s still a youngster and cowers at Lindas word. I’ve seen her throw him across the room when he couldn’t control his bowels and she’d just had a visit from Him. She said ‘It’s not my dog but Ben’s. Bloody useless when it comes to protecting us. ‘
I smel t “Cluuie I NO.5’. The cassette player was playing a collection of soft and slow songs. There was the fragrance of furni ture polish from the table. She came through from the kitchen. She was dressed in black leggings I’d not seen before. They had a Celtic curvilinear pattern to them. The swirls went up her thighs. She came through with a bottle of liebfraumilsch and two glasses. Sat down by the side of me brushing my thighs with her elbow as she settled the glass down and poured me some wine.


Kath: You haven’t brought it then. The blank tape.
Buff: I thought you wouldn’t be taking so many pictures.

Kath: And I told you always to bring some reserve film along with you. Didn’t I ?
Buff: Yes Kath. Yes you did.


I know Kath treats Buff badly. He’s the one that buys the film she uses. It’s his video camera she’s filming with all the time.
He’s got a sheltered life, love. Still lives with his mother and from what I’ve heard she’s very strict. He’s only been out with one lass that I know of. His mother disapproved. Kept calling her a whore and said ‘My son deserves better than you!’
I know he’s very lonely but he’s no right to keep hanging on me all the time. I can’t help him. That’s what I say, love. He’s got to get out of it himself.
And Kath uses him, like she uses me and you, when she needs extra folk to fill up the taxi when they’re going to see Neil. He gives me a ring and asks me whether I’m going. I can’t see why Kath don’t phone herself. That barking you can hear and Ben’s laughter is cos Buff’s brought dog up another toy.
Buff’s at the end of his tether with Kath. She’s told him if he don’t buck his ideas up he’ll never get a lass. She’s naffed off with him he says because he won’t let her use his video camera again. He’s told her ‘If you want. Apologise.’ He told me ‘I can get back at Kath anytime I like. I’ve got the leads for Neils setup on stage and if she tries ought I can make sure he never performs again. So I’m not under the thumb like you think, Linda. ‘
He’s been meeting me off the bus when I come in from college but you know last time I stayed over at your place he was waiting then and was very angry with me for not telling him. He can arsehole. I’m not letting him dictate my private life. And when he’s walked me up he expects a cup of tea and constantly overstays his welcome. I’ve told him ‘I can’t afford to give you any dinner.’ All he says is ‘No worries. I’ll get some snap from Lateshopper on the way up.’ And if I put too little sugar in his tea or coffee he laughs and says ‘I’ll train you up, lass.’ which I hate. He can be so bloody patronising.


We talked and drank and drank and talked. Later she brought through a can of lager for us to share and then another. She put her feet on my lap and her head to my neck while we were talking.

I started to trace the patterns on her leggings gradually following the curves further and further up her thighs. The pattern curved into her thighs and out again. I followed figures of eight and said. ‘This is the symbol of eternity, you know. ‘
‘Yes. ‘ she replied, kissing my neck and I had to hold her back while she did it to s top her from falling backwards on to the rest of the sofa.


Every time we go out with the gang to see Neil Buff waits in the taxi till everyone has been dropped off and it’s up here for me. I think he expects to be invited in for coffee. Well he’s not. He can arsehole. He’s always got excuse for coming up that he’s got a new cassette he’s recorded for me, or repairing my broken video.
Last time he left he said ‘I’ll only go if you give me a kiss.’ So I kissed him on the cheek. And the next time he said the same thing, you know how he repeats himself so you can’t have a proper conversation. Anyroad, this time he says ‘I’ll only go if you give me a proper kiss, this time.’ And laughed and took me in those great hulking arms of his almost squeezing the living breath out of me. I told him straight ‘You’re hurting me.’ He let go and I never gave him what he asked for I just told him ‘It’s very late and I’m very tired Buff so can you please go!’
And he’s waiting downstairs now. What am I to do?
I wish you were up here. You’re much better at words than I am. You said you were painting a picture of the moors for me. How’s it coming on? Oh, really. I don’t really want to face him downstairs, right now. It’s alright for you you’re a man. I’ll have to think of something to get rid of him. I’m going to college tomorrow I could tell him I’ll meet him off the bus then tell him to go after his cup of tea because you’re coming up. You wouldn’t tell him would you? I can say that can’t I? I know it sounds like a lie and God wouldn’t like it. But he don’t mind small ones, does He?


After a while when she went to change the cassette, she went to the dimmer sw i tch and turned it down and said f I don’t like harsh light, do you? We kissed but I was a bit too soon with my tongue and she said ‘Not yet. ‘ quietly but firmly.
As we stroked each others skin she was lifting up my shirt from out of my jeans and I began to do the same to hers. Her body was warm and fresh smelling. I eased my hand through to her breasts. The elasticity of the bra dug into my skin as I did so. She moved my hand to her breasts again saying ‘This is what turns me on. Do it some more. I’ll teach you. Grasp it between you’re thumb and forefinger and twist, gently. That’s it.’ I started to experiment twisting and pulling the teat away from her body at the same time. This seemed to evince even more excitement. So I thought I was going along the right route. I started to move my hands under her leggings and thought how easy they were to remove when tight jeans would mean a lot of pushing and pulling, and generally stopping the other activity, such as her massaging of my earlobes with her tongue.


I asked Buff to go because it’ was late and said I’d see him tomorrow like I told you. He went quietly.
Ben opened the door to Him while I was ironing in the dining room. I had just sent Buff away. Ben heard the door I didn’t. When He came through the door with His Minder. I shook. They were in suits and I could see the car parked at the bottom of the drive wi t h others in sui ts inside. Everything he says is a command. I just have to do. it.
I said ‘What you doing here?
And who’s he? What right has he to come into my house?’
He’s my Minder. Now stop what you’re doing. Put that iron down. I still love you. Now come and sit on the couch and explain to me again why you sent me away. What did I do?
You know what you did! You tried to isolate me from m~ family and my friends. You tried to take Ben away from me.’
Now, Linda. I love you. I would never do something like that. I asked you to see a psychiatrist. Nod if you agree with me Linda? That’s my baby.
What’s he doing? He was unplugging the downstairs phone.
Stay where you are Linda! He’s just making sure we don’t get disturbed. You wouldn’t want to get in touch with anybody, would you. I’m the one that loves you.
Ben should not be here. Ben go upstairs. I’m not having my son hear this.

Go upstairs Ben. husband.
I divorced you.
Your mother doesn’t want you to be with her

Now if I loved you why would I want to harm you. You are speaking nonsense again. Aren’t you Linda? Now if you were of a sound mind you would not speak nonsense would you? I am right. You are wrong. Check the door.

There was a knock at the door. His Minder answered it. A policeman entered. He didn’t flinch. He just turned to me and said’ There’s no need for this.’ and as I stood up John came between us.
My friend John, asked him ‘What are you doing here?’
He answered ‘I was about to ask you the same question officer. There is no need for alarm I am having quiet word with my wife. Is that a crime?
You are divorced are you not?
My ex- wife, yes, officer.
If it is a quiet word then what is he doing here?
He’s his Minder and he unplugged my phone.
Is this true?
He’s just a friend.
So there is no reason for him being here then. And no reason for you unplugging the phone?
No officer.
And John bundled the Minder out the door saying ‘Join your mates in the car, lad,’
When he returned he asked me ‘Do you want him here?’
I said ‘No.’
And John politely asked Him to leave. Which He did. John said he would have extra patrols round the area to make sure He never returned. 0, I’m frightened. I don’t know what to do. I’ve asked Buff to collect me from the bus this time and he says he’s prepared to stay over. It’s too far for you to travel int it? I’m worried what the neighbours ’11 be saying. All these men coming to the house. I’ll be getting my first husband, Ben’s father, saying there’s too many men in Ben’s life. What’s it got to do with him? Exactly. You’re more sensible than I am. What should I do?

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