This story takes place in the mid to late 1980s, and is from the view of a child aged 5-8ish. The toys shown are a mixture of ones I had back then and new ones.
The house with the ‘long windows’ was in Paultow Avenue (BS3) and the story is set in the surrounding streets. The hovering, smoking bomb I saw was over some flats in Knowle.
The corner shop was called Edmunds and was a family business that has since closed down.
The story is based on memories and I wrote it after the first session of the story workshop. I liked the idea of talking about a ‘moment in history’ from the view of a child, and wanted to sum up the hippy/alternative feel Bedminster had in those days. I also wanted to sum up the feeling we had that the world was about to end. The technique used to create the picture is ink and bleach drawing with some coloured pencil shading and photo-montage.
This story was made on a four and a half day training workshop for artists and practitioners aiming to join Bristol Stories Network in order to help facilitate future programme of workshops, and also benefit from other training opportunities.
The course was led by Ruth Jacobs and Liz Milner, and took place at Watershed during February and March 2006. The project was supported by Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives.
“Bedminster, Bedminster, Bedminster” says my sister in the dark under the bed. I tell her to shut up, not to repeat what the grown ups say. I don’t know what Bedminster means but I know its bad and looming over us, like the bombs and Maggie Thatcher. She does shut up, but it doesn’t stop it happening. We end up in a house that my mum says has long windows, but really the windows are just the same as all the other windows in the street, in the city. We end up in Bedminster.
We used to have bluebell woods in our garden and goats and chickens and gypsies camped in the drive, when we lived in our coal country cottage. Now our yard is small, and we catch cats and caterpillars – the hairy ones. We look for gil-y-gils that dissolve to dust when we see them, but we know live under the shed. There is a diamond in the cement in the yard and we mine it, like they mined coal up north.
Bedminster, Bedminster, Bedminster. I run and prance barefoot, galloping the pavements to the corner shop, so the neighbours tut about ‘what a way to bring up a child’. Barefoot I’ve twenty pence in pocket money and buy cola bottles at two a penny and sherbet and flying saucers and pink shrimps. In all of the windows, all the way from the shop are posters about ‘stop the poll tax’ and ‘ban the bomb’. And the bombs are going to fall so my mother paints a CND on my head, and takes me on a rally. And the neighbours tut about ‘what a way to bring up a child’. Then one day I see a bomb, high up above the flats, smoking and black, but no one else sees it and it never falls.
Bedminster. Bedminster, Bedminster says the shaking chair and static radio as I climb up to the biscuit shelf. I’m looking at the orange cupboards, and the radio says that Maggie Thatcher has gone. I don’t know where she has gone, or why, but I know its good. And I lie in bed, waiting for the bombs to fall, and under the bed in the dark my sister whispers “there’s a witch in the wardrobe, there’s a witch in the wardrobe”, and I tell her to shut up. Because what my sister says tends to come true.
All media not otherwise credited created by the story author, or permission obtained, used under copyright licence.