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Terry Collett Nov 2013
Lydia's mother
sliced the bread thinly
and buttered sparingly
and handed Lydia

two limp slices
and said
get that inside you

can't have you going
with your stomach rumbling
people'd think

you've not been fed
Lydia took the two slices
and a mug of stewed tea

but she hadn't been fed
that was why
she went and got
the rolls and bread

but she said nothing
just nodded her head
and followed her mother

into the living room
and sat at the table
her big sister
had gone to bed

her father was sleeping
off the beer
Lydia nibbled like a mouse

a thin long haired girl
of a mouse
can I go up West?
she asked

up West?
her mother repeated
as if her daughter

had sworn at her
up West?
she said again
turning the words around

in her head
to see how they fitted in best  
can I?

her daughter
asked again anxiously
you can in the sense
that it's possible

but if you mean may
as a permissibility
then no

her mother said
Lydia said
uncertain where

she was
in her request
your gran always said

that the difference
between can and may
is one of possibility
over permissibility

said Lydia's mother
may I go?
Lydia asked softly

no you may not
her mother said
why not?
her daughter asked

because I said so
her mother replied
why do want to go there?

her mother asked
Benedict said
he was going there
and that he'd take me

Lydia replied
oh him
her mother said

she sat and took a bite
from her sandwich
picturing the boy
from upstairs

in the flats
with his hazel eyes
and big smile

and self assurance
about him
why does he want to go
up West?

she asked
he likes adventures
Lydia said

her mother said
repeating the word
as if

it were unknown to her
who does he think he is
Biggles or someone

like that?
Lydia sat nibbling
holding the bread

in her thin hands
he's never mentioned Biggles
Lydia said

don't talk
with your mouth full
her mother scolded
Lydia swallowed

the bread
he's not said nothing
about no Biggles

Lydia said
well you can't go
her mother said firmly
looking at her daughter's

thin frame
and lank long hair
do you mean I mayn't?

Lydia uttered gently
I said what I mean
her mother said
and don't get mouthy

like your big sister
or you'll feel
my hand

across your backside
Lydia nibbled
and looked away
a train steamed crossed

the railway bridge
leaving grey white smoke
behind it

lingering there
unsettling the air
her mother muttered words
but Lydia didn't listen

she watched clouds
cross the sky darkly
carrying a storm

or rain
she liked her backside
as it was
she didn't want

no pain
she'd not ask
Terry Collett Mar 2016
Edinburgh? You want to go
get a train to Edinburgh?
Lydia's dad says. Not now,
when I'm older, Lydia says,

looking at her father's steely
eyes, sober, smile lingering.
On your own? He asks, gazing
at her, taking in her skinny

frame, arms, legs and long
straight hair. No, with Benny,
she says, we went to Kings
Cross Station saw the train

that goes to Edinburgh station.
Whose idea was that? He asks,
Benny boy's? No we both had
the idea, she says, wishing

Benny was there as he would
know what to say. Long way
to Edinburgh, her father says,
picking up his cup of tea at the

breakfast table. 6 hours the porter
man said when Benny asked him,
Lydia says. Her father sips his tea.
Lydia waits. So can I go? She asks

her dad. He looks at her. When
you're older maybe. Well, got to
go to work, he says, gets up, pats
her head, says see you, Lydia.

Lydia watches him go, hears the
door shut. Her mother comes in
with a cigarette hanging from her
lips, her hair in rollers. What you

doing? She asks Lydia. Going to
Edinburgh with Benny, Lydia says.
Her mother stares at her and shakes
her head. Well make sure you pack

your clothes and empty your piggy-
bank, her mother says and walks off
back to the kitchen. Lydia frowns,
gets her piggy-bank and shakes it.

It sounds empty, except for a few
coins rattling. Can I go out with
Benny? She calls out to her mother.
She puts down her pink piggy-bank.

She walks into the kitchen where her
mother is washing up. Can I? She asks
her mother. Can you what? Go out
with Benny? Again? You only saw

him yesterday? Her mother says through
a mouthful of cigarette smoke. Need
to see him about Edinburgh, Lydia says.
What about Edinburgh? Her mother

says her words clouded in smoke. Dad
said I can go to Edinburgh with Benny,
Lydia says anxiously. Did he now, well
he can **** well pay for it can't he, her

mother says, well off you go then, and
don't be too late, need you to help me
sort out the washing later, I don't suppose
your big **** of a sister will shift her

backside out of bed before noon. Lydia
bites her lip. Watches her mother doing
the dishes. Ok won't be late, Lydia says,
walking out of the kitchen, along the hall,

out of the front door, stares out at the Square,
wondering if Benny is about out there.
Terry Collett Mar 2015
Do steam trains go from Kings Cross to Scotland? Lydia asks. Her father sober smiles. Are you eloping with the Benny boy of yours? He says. Big eyes staring; blue  large marble like. Whats eloping? She asks, frowning. Running off to be married secretly, the daddy says. No, Benedict and I are only nine, so how would we be eloping? Practice run? No no, she says. Nibbles her buttered toast her mother gave. You be mindful, busy that place; crowds are there. He sips his tea. She nibbles more toast, staring at him. How are you getting there; too far to walk? Dont know; Benedictll know; he knows these things. Underground trains best, the daddy suggests. But how to get the money for fare? He asks; his eyes narrow on to her. Dont know, she says, looking at the tablecloth, patterned, birds. Has your Benny boy the money? Sober, good humoured, he smiles. Expect so, she says, doubtful. See your mother, ask her, he suggests, smiling, as if. Well, must be off, work calls, he says. Where are you today? She asks. Train driving to Bristol. Is that near Scotland? He smiles, shakes the head. No, Bristols west, Scotlands north; do you not know your geography? The daddy says. She shrugs. Sober he shakes the head. Well, Im off. See your mother about the fares. She nods; he goes taking a last sip of tea. She eats the buttered toast, cold, limp. She sits and gazes out the window. Sunny, warm looking. The birds on the grass; the bomb shelter still there. Wonders if the mother will. Money for fares. Knock at the front door. Her daddy answers. Opens up. Your Bennys here, Princess, he mocks. See you mind her, Benny boy, shes my precious, the daddy says out the door and away. Lydia goes to the door. Benny is standing there looking at her daddy walking through the Square. Her mother comes to the door wiping her hands on an apron, hair in rollers, cigarette hanging from her lip corner. Whats all this? her mother asks. Lydia looks at Benny. He gazes at the mother. Kings Cross, he says. Is he? The mother says. Train station, Benny adds unsmiling. So? We thought wed go there, Lydia says, shyly, looking at her mother. How do you think of getting there? Underground train, Daddy said. Did he? And did he offer the money? No, said to ask you. Did he? The mother pulls a face, stares at Lydia and Benny. Am I to pay his fare, too? She says, staring at Benny. No, Ive me own, he says, offering out a handful of coins. Just as well. If your daddyd not been sober youd got ****** all permission to go to the end of the road, her mother says, sharp, bee-sting words. Wait here, she says, goes off, puffing like a small, thin, locomotive. Benny stands on the red tiled step. Your dad was sober? She nods, smiles. Rubs hands together, thin, small hands. How are you? Fine, excited if we go, she says, eyeing him, taking in his quiff of hair and hazel eyes; the red and grey sleeveless jumper and white skirt, blue jeans. He looks beyond her; sees the dull brown paint on the walls; a smell of onions or cabbage. Looks past her head at the single light bulb with no light shade. Looks at her standing there nervous, shy. Brown sandals, grey socks, the often worn dress of blue flowers on white, a cardigan blue as cornflowers. They wait. Hows your mother? Ok, he replies. Your dad? Hes ok, he says. They hear her mother cursing along the passage. He says ask for this, but he never dips in his pocket I see, except for the beer and spirit, and o then it out by the handfuls. She opens her black purse. How much? Dont know. The mother eyes the boy. How much? Two bob should do. Two bob? Sure, shell give you change after, Benny says. Eye to eye. Thin line of the mothers mouth. Takes the money from her purse. Shoves in Lydias palm. Be careful. Mind the roads. Lydia looks at her mother, big eyes. Shyly nods. You, the mother points at the boy. Take care of her. Of course. Beware of strange men. I will. Stares at Benny. Hes my Ivanhoe, Lydia says. Is that so. Go then, before I change my mind. Thin lips. Large eyes, cigarette smoking. Take a coat. Lydia goes for her coat. Hows your mother? The mother asks, looks tired when I see her. Shes ok, gets tired, Benny says, looking past the mothers head for Lydia. Not surprised with you being her son. Benny smiles; she doesnt. He looks back into the Square. The baker goes by with his horse drawn bread wagon. Hemmy on the pram sheds with other kids. What you doing making the fecking coat? The mother says over her thin shoulder. Just coming, Lydia replies. Shes there coat in hand. The mother scans her. Mind you behave or youll feel my hand. Lydia nods, looks at Benny, back at the mother. Mind the trains; dont be an **** and fall on the track, the mother says, eyeing Benny, then Lydia. Shes safe with me, Benny says. Ill keep her with me at all times. Youd better. I will. Eye to eye stare. And eat something or youll faint. Ill get us something, the boy says. The mother sighs and walks back into the kitchen, a line of cigarette smoke following her. Ok? She nods. They go out the front door and Lydia closes it gently behind her, hoping the mother wont rush it open and change her mind. They run off across the Square and down the *****. Are we eloping? She asks. What? Us are we eloping? No, train watching. Why? The daddy says. Joking. Sober. Benny smiles, takes in her shy eyes. Whats eloping? He asks. Running off to marry, Daddy says. Too young. Practice run. Daddy said. Not today, Benny says, smiling, crossing a road. Looking both ways. Not now, not in our young days.
Terry Collett Jul 2016
Lydia sat
on the red
painted tile doorstep
waiting to see
if Benny
would come along

she breathed heavily
angry and frustrated
her mother had just
told her that she(Lydia)
and Benny could not
go to Edinburgh
or Southend by train
as they had wished

she had tried to explain
to her mother the plan
but her mother
wasn't having it
in fact she had bellowed
NO NO NO so loud
that her big sister Gloria
was disturbed drunkenly
in the bed
she shared with Lydia

she watched the milkman
pull up in his
horse drawn wagon
and take out 2 bottles of milk
and walked with them
across the way
and put them on
the doorstep
then walked back

the horse was eating
from a nosebag

Lydia sat
a few more minutes
if Benny hadn't showed
she'd go and find him
and tell him the bad news

the man with the boxer dog
walked past
doffed his cap
and smiled
then walked on

then she saw Benny
galloping(on his pretend horse)
up from the *****
and into the Square

she stared at him
then waved him over

he galloped towards her
she felt angry and tearful
Benny rode up
to the red
painted tile doorstep

what's up?
he said smiling

we can't go
she said pouting

can't go where?
he said
his horse vanishing
into thin air

can't go to Edinburgh
or Southend by train
she said

who said?
he said

my mum said
no no no
but louder
Lydia said

Benny sat on the doorstep
beside her

she said at 9
we were too young
Lydia said
looking at him
her lower lip
pouting more

I'll have a word
with her
Benny said
turning around
to stare
at the front door

won't make
any difference
she said no
Lydia said

persuasion can
sometimes work
Benny said
my mum said if
you want something
bad enough
you must
like that Scottish king bloke
try and try again

you can try I suppose
Lydia said

they got up
from the step
and Benny knocked
on the front door
and they waited

the door opened
(after a few minutes)
and Lydia's mother
stood there
hair in a scarf
and a cigarette
hanging from the corner
of her mouth
and arms folded

why'd you knocked
the door?
she said to Lydia
you bloomin live here

I knocked
Benny said

what do you
want then?
the mother said

we want to go
to Southend
Benny said
we are willing
to forgo Edinburgh
until later
but Southend is a must
for us as a sort
of a trial run

the mother stared
at him coldly

I've told her
now I'm telling you
you're too young to go
anywhere at 9 years old
so the answer
is the same
she bellowed
and slammed
the door shut

Benny stared
at the door

Lydia sat down again
and stared at the milkman
walking his horse along
to the next block of flats

plan B
the Benny said

plan B?
Lydia said
what's that?

we go anyway
but say nothing
to them
he said
arms folded
a determined look
about his face

do we dare?
she said

of course
Benny said
working the plan b out
inside his
9 year old head.
Terry Collett Nov 2015
Where have you been?
Gloria asked

Paddington train station
Lydia said

on you own?

no with Benny

who's Benny?

Lydia sat on her bed
her big sister
was applying make up
to her face

a boy
Lydia said

at your age?
Gloria teased

Lydia stared
at her sister's
tight red skirt

he's a boy
Lydia said

Mum and Dad
let you go?
Gloria said
gazing at her
9 year old sister
in the mirror's reflection

Lydia said

what's he after?
Gloria said smirking

what you mean after?
Lydia said frowning  

leave her alone you
Lydia's mum said
passing the open doorway
just because you
drop your underwear
to the nearest bloke
doesn't mean you can
get her to be like you
in any case
she's just 9
so it isn't right

just joking
Gloria said moodily

well it isn't a joke
her mother said
well Lydia
what did you do
with the Benny Boy?

watched trains
Lydia said

is that all?
Gloria said

yes and Benny
bought me
a glass of milk
and we shared
a big biscuit

big spender eh?
Gloria said

watched trains?
her mother said
all the time?

Lydia said
all sorts
big trains
and smaller ones
lots of steam and noise
but we like that

Gloria said
glad my boyfriend
ain't like that
or I'd drop him
like dog's turds

her mother walked off
shaking her head

and Lydia went off
to the lounge
to watch TV
thinking of Benny
and the shared biscuit
and the promise
of going to Scotland
one day
far far away.
Terry Collett Mar 2014
Lydia's mother
opened the door
of the flat
after I had knocked

and gave me
a stern stare
is Lydia coming out?
I asked

she looked hard
at me
to the herbalist

get some sarsaparilla
I said
she said

yes it's good for you
they say
makes blood
I said

she looked
at my scuffed shoes
and blue jeans
and the gun and holster

from the snake head
elastic belt
around my waist

I suppose she can
her mother said
she bellowed

windows rattled
a dog
across the Square

the milkman's horse
lifted its head
from the nosebag
Lydia came to the door

and poked her head
out from under
her mother's arm
Benedict here

wants to take you
to get a sarsaparilla
Lydia looked at you
her eyes narrowing

then widening
she said
can I go?

she asked
course if I say so
as long
as you are wrapped warmer

than you are now
her mother said
Lydia rushed back inside
and her mother

took a long drag
of a cigarette
her yellowing fingers
in a V shape

what's your father
do for a living?
she asked
the smoke carrying

her words to me
he's a metal worker
I said
he makes things

from metal
she stared at me
a few loose hairs
had escaped

the flowery scarf
about her head
I think
he frequents ******

she said
I see
I said

what she was saying
she inhaled
on the cigarette again
her eyes

gazing beyond me
keep Lydia out
a fair while
she said

pushing out smoke
I want to rest
my eyes a while

I said
she went indoors
and I waited for Lydia
sniffing in the smoke

hanging about
the doorstep
the dog barked again
the horse ate

from the nosebag
the milkman whistled
a few notes
from some tune

I sniffed the smoke again
hoping Lydia
would be out
wrapped warm soon.
Terry Collett Jul 2016
Go where?
Lydia's mother said

Lydia said

you can't go to Southend
on your own

I'm not going
on my own
I'm going with Benny

her mother
stared at her
Go with Benny?
You're both too young
to go to ****** Southend
what put that thought
into your mind?
Her mother said

we talked about it
when we were
at King's Cross station

who is we?
The mother said

Benny and me
Lydia said frowning
******* her fingers

o so you talked it over
o that's all right
then is it?
The mother said

just to Southend
as a first run
then we want to go
to Scotland
Lydia said

her mother bellowed
are you mad you two?
You can't go
to ****** Scotland
at your age
what 9 years old
and want to go Scotland
and alone?
The mother stared
at Lydia
as if she was mad

Lydia wished
Benny was there
he had a way with words
he might be able
to put it better

whose idea was it?

Both of us
Lydia said
we thought it
would be good
and we could go
to Edinburgh
and see men in kilts
and see the castle

the mother bellowed

Lydia lowered her head
and gazed at
her mother's slippers

you can't go to Scotland
or Edinburgh
or Southend
not alone
the mother said quieter
staring at her daughter

when can we go then?
Lydia said
looking at
her mother's
stockinged legs

when you are old enough
and we say so
her mother said

when will be old enough?
Lydia said
gazing at her mother's
blue patterned apron

when we say so
her mother said
and walked off
back to the kitchen
where the boiler
was boiling washing
and steam came down
the passageway

Lydia sighed
and opened the front door
and went out
to find Benny
and tell him the bad news
and not being able
to see the Edinburgh views.
Terry Collett Dec 2015
Buckingham Palace?
Lydia's mother said
you want to take Lydia
to blooming Buckingham Palace?

she stood at her door
cigarette in her mouth
smoke rising to her eyes
making her squint

yes to see
the changing of the guards
I said

she looked at me sternly
what's your mother think
about you gallivanting
all over London?
she asked

I'm not gallivanting
we'll go by train
I said

she puffed out
smoke towards me
like some dragon

don't think her dad'd
want her going that far
the mother said

not far away by train
I said

she bellowed
over her thin shoulder

she gazed at me
the young boy
from the upstairs flats
and puffed harder
hair in rollers
the cigarette hanging
from her lips

Lydia came
beside her mother

Lydia said

this here boy
wants to take you
to blooming Buckingham
****** Palace
her mother said
did you know
about this?

Lydia shook her head
thin girl with lanky hair
brown and unkempt
no didn't know
Lydia said
gazing at me
can I go?
she said

go to the ****** Palace
who do you think you are?
blooming royalty?
the mother said

it's history
I said
help us to appreciate
being English

too far
the mother said
crossing her arms
over her small *******

where'd I get the money
for you two herbets
to go flying
all over the place?

we're not flying
I said
we're going by train
and I've money
my old man
gave me yesterday
for shining his shoes

Lydia gazed at her mother
then at me

her mother just
gazed at me
through smoke
and sighed

you'd better keep an eye
on her don't want her
going off getting lost
the mother said

she won't with me
I said
look after her
like she was royalty
I added
opening my jacket
and showing her
my 6 shooter toy gun

she was not impressed
don't be late my girl
or you'll feel my hand
on your backside
you understand?

Lydia nodded her head
I can go then?

just said so you silly mare
the mother said
gazing at me
with her smoke filled eyes

just be careful of her
she poked her thin finger
in my direction like a lance
then went back
inside the flat

we're going
to Buckingham Palace?
Lydia said

yes by train
I said

by train? she said

yes by train
I said

so she went in
to get a coat
and I stood
on the red brick doorstep
looking at the Square
thinking of the Palace
soon be there.
Terry Collett Mar 2014
I knocked
on Lydia's front door
and waited
the morning sun

was coming
into the Square
Lydia's old man
opened the door

and stared at me
with bloodshot eyes
what do you want?
he said

is Lydia
coming out?
I asked
who wants to know?

I do
wondered if she'd like
to see the trains

I said
why would she
want to see trains?
he said gruffly

she likes trains
I said
he looked beyond me
at the block of flats behind  

who said
she likes trains?
she did
I said

I work
with fecking trains
all day
she's never said

about trains before
he said
looking at me again
his eyes trying

to focus
we often
go see trains
I said

we went  to Waterloo
train station
the other week
he closed his eyes

his hairy chin
and breathed out
a beery flavour

he bellowed suddenly
I stepped off
the front door step

and stood
gaping at him
he called again

he opened his eyes
and stared at me
I detected life
behind the mask

Lydia came
to the door
and peeped under
her old man's arm

this kid wants to know
if you want go see
fecking trains
he said gently

his voice silky
do you?
she nodded her head

can I?
she asked
he looked at me
as if I’d just

stolen his wallet
he said
steam trains

I said
yes steam trains
she said
we like watching them

he raised his eyebrows
and looked down at her
under his arm
resting on the door jamb

ok ok
if you want go see trains
go see trains
he said

and wandered off
leaving Lydia and me
looking at each other

Waterloo again?
I asked
what about Victoria station?
she said

ok sure
I replied
and she turned

to go get
her shoes inside.
Terry Collett May 2014
You want to go to where?
Victoria rail station
Lydia said
her mother

as she dried the plate
a cigarette hanging
from her lower lip

who with?
Benny the boy upstairs
in the flats
over there

Lydia said
her mother wiped
another plate
why there?

and why with him?
Lydia played
with her fingers

steam trains
she said
we like to see them

and I like Benny
he's funny
her mother
stared at her

don't seem funny to me
but his mother's
a good sort
so he can't be

too bad I suppose
Lydia looked
at her mother's
red wet hands

how are you
getting there?
bus I guess
Lydia said

and I suppose
you want money
for the fare?
Lydia stared

Benny said
he'd pay
did he now
her mother said

think I can't
afford the fare?
she put the plates
in a cupboard

and stared
at her daughter
weedy looking

she got her black purse
and took out
some coins
don't make a habit

of going out to
faraway places
her mother said
she put the coins

into her daughter's
thin white hands
and walked off
to tidy

the sitting room
Lydia looked
at the coins
in the palm

of her hand
she pocketed them
in her fading red dress
and opened

the front door
to see
if Benny was coming
the baker

was going by
on his horse drawn cart
the horse looked tired
and trotted slow

then she saw Benny
coming across
the Square towards her
riding his

imaginary horse
with his 6 shooter gun
and holster
of course.
Terry Collett May 2014
From her bedroom window
Lydia could see
the grass and pigeons

and some boy
with a bow and arrow
she could hear

her mother shouting
at her father
her sister

still asleep
in the big bed behind
the tattooed arm

hanging from the bed
her mouth open
Lydia saw the boy turn

it was Benedict
his quiff of hair
an arrow in his bow

pointing downwards
he was mouthing words
and making gestures

with his free hand
she opened the window
letting in

the morning air
are you coming out?
Benedict asked

Lydia's sister
stirred in the bed
where are you going?

Lydia asked
thought I’d go
to one of the big

train stations
see the steam engines
he said

she looked back
at her sister
the blonde hair

over her face
a breast hanging
out of her nightie

which one?
she asked
he fired an arrow

at a pigeon
but it flew away

he said
I’ve no money
she said

he went
to pick up the arrow
stuck in the grass

he wiped mud
off the end
when are you going?

she asked
after lunch
he said

walking up
to her ground floor
window and peering in

at Lydia's sister
can you call for me?
she asked

he said
will your mother

be ok about it?
last time
she almost

bit my head off
Lydia looked out
at the grass

and dandelions
she'll be all right

she said
uncertain but trying
to convince him

he said
I’ll call for you

he walked off
across the grass
holding his bow

and arrow
shut the blooming window
her sister said

turning over in bed
Lydia pulled down
the window

and watched
as Benedict
climbed the green

metal fence
and disappeared
from view

Lydia picked up
her sister's
***** washing

for something
(in the meantime)
to do.
Terry Collett Apr 2016
The ******* steam train hissed out steam of grey and white and black which rose from underneath and the top and sides of the train like an angry dragon the steam then spread along the platform like a fog clearing after a while then fogging up again once the dragon hissed once more Benedict and Lydia sat on a black cast-iron metal seat on the platform and watched fascinated by the spectacle captured by the sight and sound and smells which was one of their shared joys along with exploring bomb-sites and riding swings and the slide in the park or swimming in the local swimming pool although neither could swim even though they were nine years old and went with classes to the swimming pool to learn but neither did hiss hiss went the train again Benedict looked at Lydia Im going to be train driver when Im older he said going to drive a ******* one like this one Lydia stared at him me too she said a big green one like we saw at Kings Cross the other week can girls drive trains? She said Ive never seen a girl train driver she added taking in Benedicts quiff of brown hair and his hazel eyes focusing on her might by the time youre older he said out of wanting Lydias wish to come true rather out of any real belief that girls will ever drive trains do you think they will Benny? Do you? She said anxiously thinking her treasured dream might evaporate before she had even stepped onto the engine of a train yes of course he said asked your dad hell know Benedict said he works on the railway yes I will she said knowing when to ask him and when not to and best to wait until he was sober and in a good mood and not when drunk and forgetful the train belched out steam again and a loud blast of noise and smell and Lydia waved one of her small thin hands in front of her face to make a space for her to breath in fresher air and not steam we can drive a train to Scotland then Benedict said Edinburgh or Glasgow  or Wales Lydia said never been there Cardiff or Swansea Mr Finn talked about Cardiff the other week in history something about a castle or something she added watching the grey and white steam rise into the air right up to the roof of the station she reached out and touched Benedicts hand near to hers and hoped maybe they would go to Edinburgh as they had talked about it a few weeks before about getting on a train from Kings Cross train station once they had enough money and clothes and food and drinks and once school was over for the summer holidays we will go to Edinburgh wont we Benny? Once weve enough clothes and money and things? Of course he said taking in her thin frame and lank mousey hair and dark eyes once we're ready for it and its a long six hour journey so need to get ready for the long trip and have enough clothes to wear he added seeing the pale green dress she was wearing needed stitching at the hem where it was coming undone and her off-white ankle socks looking grey rather than white passengers were making a last minute dash for the train opening doors and closing them with a bang and heads appeared out of windows and hands waved and Lydia waved although she didnt know at whom she was waving or cared a while blew loudly and the train hissed louder and faster and the train moved along the platform slowly and surely leaving steam behind to rush along the platform like grey and white ghosts wave Benny she said wave to the lucky people going to the seaside maybe we can go to the seaside as a trial run she added looking at hands waving from the train windows and noises and smells hanging around behind the departing train Benedict waved his hand at the departing train yes he said the seaside now theres a thought yes thatd be nearer for a trial run before Edinburgh and no need of extra clothes or much food the train vanished from sight only steam lingered behind it like a dragons tail then that too vanished and they sat watching the space it had occupied moments before which seaside? Lydia asked whats nearest? Benedict thought looking at the porter passing by Southend probably he said went there with my nan and granddad once or twice he said can we go? She said can we? She still clutched his hand with her thin small hand her fingers entwined with his yes course he said feeling her fingers clutch his and he hoping none of the boys from school could see the hand holding thinking him a cissy breaking the schoolboy code of not holding girls hands best look at the timetables for trains up by the ticket office he said after a few minutes musing good good she said excitedly squeezing his fingers more right lets go get a bottle of lemonade each and a pack of biscuits from the kiosk at the top end there he said have you money? She said Ive have none(she seldom did) Ive a shilling he said thatll do so they got up from the cast-iron metal seat and she still holding his hand walked up the platform taking in other trains on either side on different platforms black ones and a green one and a small black one like a baby train out for its first run maybe she thought steam still hung around them and the smell and whistles blowing and voices calling out she thinking of the seaside and the sea and sand and seagulls and ice-creams and maybe seafood like her mum liked and he thought of being a train driver steam rushing past him as he stoked the engine and a thrill raced through him and he felt he couldnt wait for that far off growing up date.
Lydia, Lydia,
There are broken angels
beneath your skin.

Your face is stone,
and white as snow,
where the color should have been.

Your husband is by your side,
middle school passion left undead.
Your sister over your right shoulder,
smiling like the day you wed.

You don't hear Zach's talk of cereals,
but a tight smile shows on your face.
The greif streaked grime of tears and salt
rims your neck like wedding lace.

Tomorrow you will rise
and pour milk into your bowl.
Look across the table,
just to feel your crushing soul.

To not see the eyes
that were there for twenty years.
To share no more secrets,
or confide her sisterly fears.

You both spent your life devoted
to three hundred sixty-five words
of repiticious hope.
Only to wake up with the flipping of a page,
to find a car bent in ash and smoke.

This hollow eyed shell I saw in the store
clenched her teeth up tight,
to suffer along like the people of The Book,
and hold Faith to Father of Light.

You made me shed tears for you,
because you made me come to see
I would never leave my little sister
By any of my own means.

I felt cheated for you,
so joyous in your Word.
To spread the light of God
to every part of Earth.

But now you are away,
taking flight,
still this young.
I go home with knotted throat,
and my eyes felling as if theyd been stung.

I've been thinking of you both,
by blood and faith.
I'm so sorry for your loss,
the unknowing,
all the rage.

I weep for you, dear Madison.
You lived only in a blink.
But I weep for you still more, Lydia.
And I pray that you won't sink.
A passing of the eldest sister in our home town this week, her sister having been a classmate. A devestation, to say the least.
Terry Collett Jul 2018
Lydia's mother
opened the door
and gazed out at me
standing on
the red-tiled door step.

"Oh it's you;
what you want, then,?"

A waft of boiled cabbage
touched me.

"Can Lydia
come out,?"

She stared at me;
her hair was in curlers
and covered in a scarf.

She bellowed over
her thin shoulder.

Pigeons in
the Square behind
took flight.

"Where you going?"

I watched the cigarette
at the corner of her mouth
move up and down
as she spoke.

"Bedlam Park."
I said.

She blew smoke at me
as she spoke.
"I've no money for her."

I turned my head
to avoid more smoke.
"Don't need money.
We can go
to the war museum."

She looked
behind her.
"Where is she?
Lydia where are you?"

Lydia came
beside her mother
and gazed at me.

"This kid wants you
to go Bedlam Park
with him."

Lydia nodded her head.
"Can I go?"

Her mother puffed
on her cigarette.
"Mind you behave
or you'll feel my hand
on your ****."

Smoke carried the words
and she turned
and went indoors.

We walked
through the Square
and down the *****
and up Meadow Row.

Late morning
sun's warm glow.
A boy and girl in London in the 1950s
Terry Collett Jul 2015
Where Gloria lies
Lydia once lay
Gloria's boyfriend
sleeps beside her

& Lydia having to sleep
in the cot bed
feels the aches and pains

in a bed too small
and sits moodily
on the red tiled
front door step

gazing at the Square
chin in her small hands
pouting lips
the baker with his

horse drawn cart
goes by
the man with his boxer dog
walks on by

waves as he
is wont to do
his dog sniffing
the ground

her father's voice
sounding from indoors
her mother's voice
bellowing above his

Benny rides along
on his imaginary horse
& rides over to her
sitting there

what's up?
he asks
fed up
she replies

staring at him
my big sister
& her boyfriend
still have my bed

& I'm stuck in
the cot bed &
I ache & feel angry
& I could spit

I see
Benny says
getting off
his pretend horse

anything I can do
to help?
only if you kidnap
her boyfriend

& send him off
some place
Lydia says
what you doing

she asks
standing up
& rubbing her behind

which had become
pins& needlely
I was going to ride
my blue scooter

but you can come
& we can share it
along & down
Rockingham Street

he says
she looks at him
& says
ok if I can

have a ride
even if it is blue
he says

I can ask my sister
if you can borrow
her red one
will she let me?

Lydia asks
sure to if I ask
nicely & promise
her some sweets

he says
Lydia says
let's go then

so they walked up
to the flat where
Benny lives with his
parents & sister

& brother
& he asks his sister
who says yes
& so Benny & Lydia

ride off across
the Square
on the two scooters
& Benny has

(for safety against
bad cowboys)
his two 6 gun
Terry Collett Dec 2013
watches through
a thin gap
in the dark

brown curtains
her sister
much older
in the bed

holding tight
to her tall
spiv boyfriend
and kissing

his thick lips
then his ears
which even
nine year old

finds quite gross
it takes all
her childish

not to know
what the show
is about

she looking
through the gap
sees the spiv
put his hand

on the ****
buttocks of
her sister

looks away
looks out at
the green grass
and the flats

and windows
the giggles

and snorty
sounds she hears
from the bed
behind her

behind dark
brown curtains
how the heck
she got trapped

behind there
in her games
the window

was a stage
and she a
child actress

to begin
when her big
sister came
tiptoeing in

with the spiv
while hiding
unseen there

hid her feet
and stealthily
had her peek

now she sees
pigeons walk
or kids play
with skip rope

or football
or cowboys
and Injuns
but behind

the curtains
on the bed
game is played

two actors
in combat
by the sounds
her sister

makes beyond
but innocent

puts her hands
to cover
her small ears
watching kids

play their games
and joyfully
run about

whatever makes
her sister
giggle soft
then loudly
laughing shout.
A 9 year old unwittingly get stuck in the bedroom while her big sister and boy friend make out.
Lydia my Sweet Lydia let down your flowing hair
her eyes glisten through the sunset port
harbor respects for passion & lust
you had been mindful in the past
dream big to heavens port
of long ago passing dreams

when I look deep into your eyes Lydia
I can see my future
filled with hope for a better tomorrow
through the flames of sorrow sweet Lydia
a pearl of deep desires reflects your heart

I saw you shiver in the rain
as you drenched your coat in sullen boots
minutes ago a tender smile would flow
gives cadence to the simple
as a beacon of light
to a much hurting word in need of love

Lydia my dearest Lydia as a fawn is groomed in late pastures fell
your charm and warmth is so hard to tell
a challenge to be free is a quest of time
your heart is an opened door until we meet in heaven
Terry Collett Jan 2017
Sunday morning
and I walk down
the concrete stairs
to Lydia's flat
on the ground floor
over by the end.

I knock on the door;
her mother answers
and stands there
a cigarette
in the corner
of her mouth
and her hair
in a turban
hiding curlers.

She says,
eyeing me.

Is Lydia in?
I say.

Yes she is why?
Her mother says.

Is she allowed out?
I ask.

She went out
yesterday with you
to the cinema
where now?
She asks.

Just out for a walk
to the park maybe,
I say.

What park?

Jail Park
just over the way,
I say,
with my thumb.

She looks at me sternly:
she was out
with you yesterday,
I can't have her
going out every day;
last week it was
the train station
looking at steam trains,
now the park,
she moans.

We like steam trains,
I say.

I don't care,
she says.

Lydia creeps
to the door
and appears
by her mother's side.

Hello Benny,
she says.

Her mother
looks down at her:
thought you
were making the bed?

I was going to
but Gloria's
still asleep snoring,
Lydia says.

Her mother
inhales deeply
on the cigarette
and looks past me
at the milkman
delivering milk:
Hey Milkie
three pints today,
she bellows,
making Lydia jump.

Righto Misses,
he replies
with a nod
of his head.

Can she go
to the park?
I ask
her mother again.

The mother blows
out smoke
like a dragon
without a flame:
I suppose so,
she says,
but not late
dinner's at midday
not later understand.

Yes of course,
I say,
and Lydia confirms.

The mother goes
back indoors.

The milkman
puts the pints of milk
on the doorstep.

Lydia and I
walk across the Square
making our way
to the park
for an hour or two
having nothing
much else
on a Sunday
to do.
Terry Collett Jan 2019
Lydia's mother
opened the door to me:
O it's you,
she said,
what do you want?

I gazed at her
standing there
with a cigarette hanging
from her lower lip:
Can Lydia come out?

Where you going?
She asked.

Going swimming
up Bedlam Park,
I said, showing
her the towel
with my trunks inside.

She exhaled smoke
as she spoke:
How much is that
going to cost me?

A few pence
for the locker key
to put the clothes in
while swimming,
I replied,
which is returned
when the key is returned.

She stood there
studying me
for a few moments.

she bellowed.

Pigeons took flight
from the Square
in fright.

Lydia came to the door
and peered at me
beneath her mother's arm.

What is it?
She asked.

This here boy wants you
to go swimming with him,
her mother said.

Lydia said.

Fecking Thames,
her mother said,
****** swimming pool.

Can I go?
Lydia said.

Her mother gazed at me
through tobacco smoke.

Suppose so,
but don't be an ****
and drown yourself,
she said.

Lydia went off
to get her costume
and towel.

Be careful of her,
her mother said.

Of course,
I replied.

She went off inside
a line of smoke
following her.

I waited on
the red tiled doorstep
and watched the milkman
come into the Square.

His horse ate
from a nosebag
and stood still
while the milkman raced
with milk from door to door.

It ***** on the ground
but I pretended I never saw.
A boy and girl in London in the 1950s
Terry Collett Dec 2013
Lydia is quiet
going down the *****
by Arrol House
and onto

Rockingham Street
Benedict says nothing
he thinks it best
to let her brood

until she’s ready
to speak
he's seen it
in the films before

where the female
opposite the cowboy
has her moods
or quiet times

and the cowboy
lets her get on with it
while he rides off
into the sunset

to fight the bad guys
or Injuns
or have a shot
of Red Eye

in the bar in the town
watching the dancers
on the makeshift stage
he gives Lydia

a side on gaze
her straight hair
seems unbrushed
her dress is creased

and the cardigan
has a hole
in the elbow
they walk up

towards Draper Road
by the blocks of flats
he says
(hating silence)

the parents
were rowing last night
something to do
with money

or the lack of it
from what
I could gather
through the bedroom door

lying in the dark
seeing the thin line
of light
from the other room

the old man hates
being short
needs dosh
to get

his best suits
and brown shoes
saw something odd
last night

Lydia says suddenly
looking at Benedict
odd? what was odd?
he asks

her thin hands
the nails chewed
my big sister

and her man friend
your sister's always odd
says Benedict

more odd
she made me sleep
in the tiny cot bed
which I haven't done

for years as its
too small for me really
but anyway
she made me sleep there

so she and her man friend
could sleep there
he's been turned out
of his digs

as he calls them
and Mum didn't like
the idea but Dad
in his usual drunken state

said O let him stay
a few days
until he gets himself
a place

so there am I
stuck in the cot bed
feet dangling
over the ends

just about room for me
except my backside
gets cold
when I turn over

nothing worse
Benedict says
than a cold backside
well then

Lydia says
after the lights were out
and she thought
I was asleep

I heard this noise
like squashy sound
and I lay there
with my eyes open

at the dark shapes
and hearing
these odd sounds

and the giggles
and snorts and such
Benedict gazes at her
side on

her thin lips
were opening
and closing
like the goldfish

he had which fell
into the sink
out of the fish bowl
and its tiny mouth

was closing
and opening
upon the wet
white surface

then the bed springs
were going gong gong
then silence
as if they were dead

Lydia says
straight ahead

and I never got
to sleep in the end
for ages
what with them

and the cold
on my backside
and the trains
going over

the railway bridge
and the shunting
of coal wagons
so you're tired

Benedict says
that’s why you
were quiet just now
thought I'd done

something wrong
when I first met you
outside your flat
and you came out

with a face
suppose so
she says
and they walk along

Draper Road
to the Penny shop
where he treats her
to a penny pop drink

and 4
fruit salad sweets
and they stand
by the penny

ball game machine
on the wall
and watch some kid
press the buttons

and the ball
goes around
and around
until it disappears

in a slot
and Lydia thinks
to herself
sipping her drink

grown ups
are an odd lot.
Terry Collett Oct 2015
You're going where?
Lydia's mother said

Padding Train Station
Lydia said gingerly

and how do you think
you're going to get there?
her mother asked

by tube train
I said

and who is going
to pay the fares?
she said
gawking at me

I've money
from my pocket money
I said

not sure we want her
to go swanning
all over London

we're not swanning
we're going by tube
I said
looking at Lydia
then at her old lady
with her hair rollers in
and hair net
and cigarette out
the corner of her mouth

we'll be careful
Lydia said
won't fall
on the line
or get too near
the steam trains

the Mother puffed
out smoke
and stared
at her daughter

look at you
standing there
with that green dress on
and your hair unbrushed
go get it brushed
and I'll see about
you swanning off
to Paddington

so Lydia went indoors
and I stood
on the red brick doorstep

and her old lady
looked at me
and said
what's with the trains?
why trains?
why can't you be
like other kids
and go play
in the park
or ride your bike
or such?

we like steam trains
I said
like the sound
and smell
the power of them
the sight of them
puffing out steam
and such things

ok ok
she said
don't go on so

and she folded her arms
and gazed over
my shoulder
at the sky

looks like rain
she said

we'll be undercover
I said

don't your mother
worry about you?

sure she does
but she trusts me
to be sensible
and careful
I said

she raised an eyebrow
well you better
take care of Lydia
don't want no trouble
or falling in front
of trains and the like
she said

I'll guard her
with my life
I said

you better
she said
and went indoors

leaving me to look
at the peeling painted
blue door
and wait for Lydia
to do her hair

and I just turned around
and gave
the grey sky
a stare.
David Huggett Oct 2012
I miss Lydia I lost her from my side
I wanted so much for her to be my bride
now I feel so lost

She told me she was my sword and shield
I took her with me across many a field
but now I pay the cost.

I need her by my side she fought so well
from the Draugr, Bandits, the Forsworn and Dragons I cast many a spell
she held me very tight at nights so that she could defrost.

Lydia Lydia Lydia I call you're name
why am I so heart broken it's just a game.
I am now heavily laden items must get tossed

I might have to start this game anew
but that would make me feel so blue
I made it to Whiterun and the forest I crossed

I searched and searched for you as far as Markarth
when will you join me once more and satisfy my heart
I have come to a final point and feel extreme exhaust.
Terry Collett Jul 2017
Lydia's old man
opened the door
after I knocked.

Come for the Princess
have you?
he said.

Yes please
I said.

He looked at me
where you going?

Morning matinee
at the ABC.

He nodded
how much is it?

I said.

Benny Boy
is here
he called out
over his shoulder

Lydia came
to the door
she looked
half asleep.

her old man said
and gave her
some coins
into her
small palm
behave or I’ll tan
your backside
he went back inside.

Morning matinee
I said.

O of course
she said
I forgot
what time
does it start?

I said.  

Won't be long
come in a minute.

So I entered
into the passageway
as she disappeared
into the kitchen/bathroom.

Her mother came out
of the kitchen
eyed me
she won't be long
just having
a quick wash
and brush her hair
come in
the sitting room
she said.

I followed her
into the sitting room.

Lydia's brother Hem
was sitting eating
his breakfast
he looked at me
then looked away.

We don’t talk
since I punched
him down
after he threw
a firework
at my sister
the year before.

I sat on a chair
and looked
around the room
for a few minutes
in silence.

Then Lydia came
she said.

So we went out
and off
through the Square
sorry I wasn't ready
she said
I forgot.

No worries
I said.

We walked
down the *****
and away
the start
of a new day.
Terry Collett May 2015
The loud shush of the steam train shush shush and grey steam turning white shushing out from beneath the train and out of here and there of the huge black dragon and O the power of it Benny says sitting beside Lydia on Kings Cross Railway Station on a seat aged and discoloured watching the steam rise up and upwards and breathing in the smell of the train and steam and she sits with her small hands together between her knees poking out of her white dress with blue flowers her small hands pushing out of her corn blue coloured cardigan her fingers pressing against each other fingertips on fingertips will this train go to Edinburgh? she asks will this train go to Edinburgh? I think so Benny says Ill ask he says and leaps up and goes along the platform and seeing a porter with a trolley stops him and asks the porter glad to rest for a few moments eyes Benny and says yes it does and takes over six hours or more and seeing the boy standing there eyes hazel and bright and the quiff of hair why are you thinking of going? the porter asks smiling revealing a number of teeth missing no not today Benny says noting the absent teeth of the porter or rather the teeth remaining and trying to count the teeth but the porter closes his mouth and smiling walks off with his trolley so Benny walks back to Lydia on the seat yes it does the porter says six hours or more to get there he says thats a long time Lydia says longer than I sleep or my big sister and she can sleep a long time especially if shes been out until the early hours- her mother calls it ******* but Lydia knows nothing of what it means and never bothered to ask-he asked if am I going to Edinburgh and I said not today but it seems exciting to think we could go just get on the train without anyone seeing us and sit in a carriage on our own and if the ticket collector man comes we can say our parents are in the dining car and he might go off and we could go to Edinburgh Benny says smiling at Lydia and she looking at him taking in his grey sleeveless jumper and the white shirt and blue jeans and do you think we could? she says were only nine you and me and Im sure the ticket man would think it odd we were alone while our parents were in the dining car and we were sitting in the carriage alone Benny looks at the train and the steam and the powerfulness of it and says lets get nearer lets get as close as we can and she says all right but not too near Daddy says not too near ok Benny says and they walk as near to the train as they can sensing the powerfulness of the train all the more and the smell of it filling their lungs and been says isnt that great? yes it is Lydia says and reaching out to try and catch some steam but it flows through her fingers and even as she claps her hands together the steam escapes and goes on its journey upwards what do you think? Benny asks Edinburgh today? just us he watches her standing there beside him thin and pale and her hair lank and straight and her eyes peering at him its along way she says her eyes getting larger her mouth opening to a wide oval six hours or more he says although we could sleep maybe sleep until were there where to sleep? she asks rubbing her fingers together nervously wont we get hungry? she asks we never brought food or drink and Ive no money left to buy any she says looking at him wanting him to say it didnt matter they would find food some place but he looks at her and says we can sleep in the carriage our heads against the seat backs or lying down on the seats and food? she says what about that? he looks at her maybe I can get some from the dining car someone might leave things he says rolls or butter you never know what people may leave do you think we could? she says moving closer to him wanting him to say yes of course we could its going to be all right but he looks at the train and the long carriages filling with passengers and the windows having faces looking out at them and says maybe another day when we have some food with us and bottles of drink  and a change of clothes he says got to have change of clothing I havent much to change into she says Mum never gets it done in time some days and I have to wear clothes day after day we can plan it he says make sure it goes to plan with food and clothes and drink and money I can get some Benny says be better then we can go to Edinburgh then like it is on the billboards she looks at him feeling he is right and she does feel it would be a bit of a risky going today without a change of clothing especially knickers she needs those she muses not sure of how much clothing she might need depending she supposes on how long they go for and where to stay once they get there where to stay that is the question she asks herself and she takes Benny hand in hers and says yes another time when as you say we have food and clothes and money and drinks he nods and rubs her hand and says its long way off but we will go yes we will she says excitedly wanting to go that day but yes we will wait to go some other time and they look at the train as it gives out a huge shush of steam like a ******* dragon and they stand back as it gets louder and more powerful and a guard with a green flag waves it wildly and the train huffs away shush shush it goes steam rising and outward like grey white snow.
Terry Collett Nov 2013
He met Lydia
in Harper Road
near the newspaper shop
the one that had

the Rob Roy book
in the window
which he was planning to buy
with his pocket money

she looked unhappy
carrying a shopping bag
in her thin hand
where you off to?

Benedict asked
got to go home
with this
she said

lifting the bag
where you going?
she asked
seeing him carrying

his toy rifle
and wearing
his cowboy hat
going to fight

at the O.K. Corral
only it won't be
ok when I get there
he said smiling

O.K. Corral?
she said
where's that?
he pointed to a bomb site

across the road
near the doctor's surgery
she said

who else is there?
a couple of other kids
he said
why don't you come along?

got to take
this shopping home
and besides Mum's

in a state
what with my big sister
not coming home
until the early hours

and my dad having a row
and punch up
in the Square last night
with that man

on the 2nd balcony
can't remember his name
and Mum and him
having a row

and me trying to sleep
and Hemmy
my brother
putting an earwig

in my bed
making me scream
and Mum bellowing at me
for screaming

she stopped
and wiped her eyes
on the hem of her dress
Benedict put his arm

around her thin shoulders
I'll get your brother
for that the ***
he said

she said nothing
but sniffed
he took
the shopping bag

from her hand
and said
I'll walk you home
and after

we can come back
and have a penny drink
and lolly
in the Penny shop

what about the O.K.Corral fight?
she said
o that can wait
he said

they'll fight
amongst themselves
she nodded

and they walked back
and crossed
Rockingham Street
and into the Square

and he said
what does your sister do
until the early hours?
God knows

Lydia said
Mum says she's a *******
or something
I don't know

if it's a special
sort of job
or something
but it makes Mum annoyed

and Dad said
to leave her alone
as she's doing her bit
to keep ***** men occupied  

Benedict shrugged his shoulders
and hugged Lydia closer
so how about
that penny drink and lolly?

she nodded and sniffed  
and I forgot to tell you
Benedict said
I saw this

Daniel Boone film
the other day
up in Camberwell Green
in some flea pit

of a cinema
but it was good
and he had a rifle
but older looking

than mine
she sniffed
but looked at him

a weak smile
on her face
you should have come
he said

maybe next time I will
she said sadly
sure you will
he said

and they reached
her flat door
and she said
thank you

and he gave her
back the shopping bag
and she kissed his cheek
and went in

and he looked around  
to make sure
none of the boys about
had seen the kiss

as he had
a reputation to maintain
and kissing
or being kissed

by a girl
was maybe deemed
as a bit cissy
but none had

and he walked over
to the pram sheds
and sat on the roof
until maybe

she reappeared
happier not less so
as he thought
and feared.
Terry Collett Dec 2014
The walk
from Peckham Rye
train station
to my aunt's
is quite a trek,
but Lydia and I
set off along
Rye lane.

Never been here before,
Lydia says.

I been here tons of times;
I was born up the road.

What this road?

No, at the hospital

She has a thinness
about her,
her lank hair is caught
by the sunshine.

We pass by shops
and cross side streets;
pass people shopping.

Dad hates shopping,
Lydia says,
he says it's a ****
of a game,
worse than kissing
his boss's backside.

She laughs;
a link of light
brightens up
her eyes;
there's a hint
of beauty
about her.

Your mum
wasn't too keen
on you going with me,
I say.

Anything that hints
of spending money
and she's up in arms;
she wouldn't care
if I went
with the milkman
as long as he paid.

We walk on
and down a street
that leads
to my aunt's place;
the shops have gone now,
just houses and flats.

I heard your old man
singing in the Square
the other night,
I say,
drunk as a lord.

I know, I heard him, too,
Mum wasn't none
too pleased;
she dragged him in
and gave him her tongue;
I couldn't marry
a man like that;
does your father drink?

No, only the odd pint
or port at special times.

We pass a dog peeing
against a wall;
it wags its tail
as it runs off
down the road
leaving a pyramid shape
of wetness behind.

My brother Hem does that,
Lydia says,
***** ***.

There is an aspect
of light
when she's angry,
like a birth
of a new world.

Is your dad Irish?
he seemed to be singing
an Irish song
the other night?

No, he always sounds Irish
when he's drunk,
like he sounds Welsh
when he's sober.

She holds my hand
as we cross a busy road;
it's thin and bony;
I feel it
with my thumb
as we walk along,
her bony knuckles;
I squeeze it gently
and she softly
Mike Hauser Nov 2017
Lydia loves the Lord...

Sees no reason not
Takes him at his word
Through battles being fought
The Spirit in her testifies
The God of Love
Is the giver of life
And that is why

Lydia loves the Lord...

Still sometimes she's afraid
Of the world that's just outside
And what it would make her give away
People speak in whispers
But she won't answer in kind
To make it through this life
And that is why

Lydia loves the Lord...

Knows it's worth the fight
Wise beyond her years
Beauty holds her tight
In and out is clear
A blessing she is here
As clear as day and night
And that is why

Lydia loves the Lord...
A beautiful soul I met on this site and am proud to call her friend.
Terry Collett Aug 2014
We were sitting
on the pram sheds
by the *****
that went down
from the Square
looking towards
Meadow Row

had to sleep
in the small bed
last night
Lydia said
all because my big sister
wanted her Spiv boyfriend
to stay over night
and Dad was at work
on one of his
far away journeys
and Mum couldn't be bothered
with her and so
he was in the bed
I shared with her

what would your dad say
if he knew?
I asked

he'd be livid he would
but he isn't here
so my big sister
gets away with things

what's wrong
with the little bed?

it's uncomfortable
and the springs are broken
and I hate it

Lydia looked
at the passers-by
going along the *****

my brother gets to have
his own bed
but not me
she added bitterly

I share with my little brother
I said
he's ok
so how long is the Spiv
going to stay?

until my dad gets back
I suppose
she'd daren’t once he's back

I nodded
watching an old woman
going up Meadow Row
carrying two bags
her backside swaying
side to side
her black hat lopsided

let's give that old girl
a hand with her bags
I said

what old girl?
Lydia said

her up Meadow Row

I jumped down
and ran across the grass
over the low metal fence
and across Rockingham Street

Lydia followed me
and when we caught up
to the woman
I said
can we help you
with those bags Mrs?

she stood upright
and gawked at us both

where do you live?
Lydia asked
out of breath already

just up the top there
she said
but I would appreciate it
if you could help

so we did
took a bag each
and walked up
the top of the Row with her
she talking
about her health
(or lack of it)
and how her son
was killed in the War
and her daughter
was in Kent

Lydia said nothing
but carried the bag
with both hands
and I answered
the old dear
when I thought I ought to
carrying the bag
in one hand
giving the impression
it wasn't heavy
when it was

we stopped outside
her house
on the left hand side

thank you both
it was very kind of you
she said
here have 3d each
for your help

no no need
of your money Mrs
you keep it
just glad to help

I insist
she said
you deserve it

so she gave us both
a 3d piece
and smiled at us
and went inside
with her bags
and closed the door

we looked at the coins
in our palms
not quite enough
for a Mars Bar
but it will get us a drink
and gob-stopper
I said

Lydia put her coin
in her dress pocket
and we walked back
to the pram sheds

she said
I’ll be glad when Dad's back
then I can sleep
in my own bed

I thought of the 3d
and what to buy
going around
in my head.
Terry Collett Jul 2014
We sat on top
of the old bomb shelter
on the grass
outside Banks House

evening was creeping in
sky darkening
moon showing
lights on
in the flats
above us

Lydia said
I’ll have to go soon
or my mum'll be
on the  war path
me being out still
and school tomorrow

just a few more minutes
I said

a steam train
went over
the railway bridge
over the way
by the Duke of Wellington pub

I love the smell of trains
she said
if I close my eyes
I think I’m on a train
to Scotland or the seaside

we could go
to Paddington train station
I said
I think trains to Scotland
go from there

Lydia looked at me
do they?

yes I' sure they do
I said

she smiled
could we go there
some day?

what Scotland?
I said

no silly
to Paddington station
she said laughing

sure we can
she looked away
and at the moon
above us
stars were visible

best go
she said
or Mum'll
be after me

but we'll make
maybe Saturday?

I'll ask Mum
Lydia said
or maybe Dad
he'll know
which trains
go there

we stood up
and climbed down
the bomb shelter
onto the grass
and walked along
by the flats

and maybe one day
she said suddenly
we can go
to Scotland

sure we will
I said

and she seemed happy
about that
and we climbed
the metal fence
and walked up
the *****
and into the Square
and I walked her
to her front door

she knocked
and her mother
opened the door

you're late
she said sternly

we've been talking
Lydia said softly

her mother looked at me
with her stern eyes

it's late
the moon's out
and there's
school tomorrow

Lydia frowned
and walked in
and her mother
shut the door

I walked off
and up the stairs
to my parent's flat
thinking of Scotland
and Lydia and me
and the sky darkened
like a deep moonlit sea.
Terry Collett Nov 2014
pale and thin
lanky hair

lightish brown
walks with me
to see hot

steam engines
at Kings Cross
train station

her old man
said she could

go with me
we get on
a bus there

sitting on
a side seat
some big guy

stares at us
his deep eyes
drinks us in

then gawks at
she blushes

looks away
I give him
my John Wayne

cowboy stare
he looks back
then away

we get off
at our stop
at Kings Cross

smell of steam
sound of trains
huff and puff

and people
rushing by
on to trains

off of trains
we both sit
on a seat

watching this
train drama

with porters
with trolleys
and luggage

and parcels
going by

rich and poor
beside me

wanting this
as I do
the grey smoke

rising high
to the roof
turning blue.



MAY, 2014


I, the undersigned, declare that this project is my original work and that it has not been presented in any other university or institution for academic credit.

Signature...............................................­..... Date...................................

This project has been submitted for examination with my approval as university supervisor
Signature..................................................­.. Date....................................

I dedicate this work to my Dad, Mom, my sister Lydia and my lovely brother Dun who contributed in one way or another to make this project to be successful.

I would like to thank all individuals who contributed and sacrificed their time towards completion of this project.
To my supervisor, for the guidance and support in the development of this research project, His advice and criticism made this project what it is.
Thanks to colleagues and friends for their suggestions, advice and encouragement. To all of you may God bless you abundantly for your tireless effort.

Contents Page
1.1 Background of the Study 10
1.2 Research Questions 13
1.3 Research Objectives 13
1.4 Justification of the Study 13
1.5 Significance of the Study 14
1.6 Scope of the Study 15
1.6.1Assumptions of the Study 16
2.1 Introduction 17
2.2 Common Forms of Child Abuse 17
2.2.1 Child ****** Abuse 17
2.2.2 Physiological or Emotional Abuse 17
2.2.3 Physical Abuse 18
2.2.4 Child Neglect or Abandonment 18 Physical Neglect 19 Educational Neglect 19 Medical Neglect 19
2.2.5 Child Fatalities 20
2.3 How Child Abuse Affects Academic Performance 20
2.3.1 Child Abuse and Academic Performance 20
2.3.2 Child Abuse and School Image 23
2.3.3 Child Abuse and Dropout Rate 25
2.4 Strategies that Schools can Employ to Curb Child Abuse 26
2.4.1 Role of Public Regulation 26 Nurturing and Attachment 27 Social Connections 27
2.5 Theoretical Framework 27
2.5.1 Learning Theory 28 Relationship with the Study 28
2.5.2 Family Dysfunction Theory 29 Relationship with the Study 29
3.0 Introduction 30
3.1 Site Description 30
3.2 Research Design 30
3.3.1 Target Population 30
3.3.2 Sample Size and Sampling Procedure 31
3.4 Description of Research Instruments 32
3.4.1 Research Instrument 32 Questionnaire 32
3.5 Data Collection Procedure 32
3.5.1 Validity and Reliability of Research Instruments 33 Reliability of Research Instruments 33 Validity 33
3.6 Data Analysis and Presentation 33
4.0 Introduction 35
4.1 Background Information 35
4.1.1 Age of the Respondents 35
4.1.2 *** of the Respondents 35
4.1.3 Education Level of the Respondents 36
4.1.4 Marital Status 36
4.2 Specific Information 37
4.2.1 Effects of Child Abuse on Academic Performance 37
4.2.2 How Child Abuse Affects Dropout Rate of Students in School 38
4.2.3 Proposed Strategies that Schools can Employ to Curb Child Abuse 41
5.0 Introduction 43
5.1 Summary of the findings 43
5.2 Discussion of the Findings 44
5.3 Conclusion 45
5.4 Recommendations 46

Table 3.1 Target population 32
Table 3.1 Sample size 33
Table 4.1 Age of the Respondents 36
Table 4.2 *** of the Respondents 37
Table 4.3 Education Level of the Respondents 37
Table 4.4 Marital Status 38
Table 4.5 Effects of Child Abuse on Academic Performance 38
Table 4.6 How Child Abuse Affects Dropout Rate of Students in School 40
Figure 4.1 Views of the Pupils on Abuse 41
Table 4.7 Proposed Strategies that Schools can Employ to Curb Child Abuse 42

Child abuse is the physical, ****** or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. The consequences of child maltreatment can be profound and may endure long after the abuse or neglect occurs. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of child abuse on school performance in Primary Schools in Kapyemit ward, Uasin-Gishu County. The objectives of the study were: To assess the impacts of child abuse on academic performance; to determine the effects of child abuse on schools image, to identify the impacts of child abuse on pupil drop out rate, to investigate the effects of child abuse on pupil transition rate. The study employed a survey study design. The study targeted 160 respondents which includes; 5 Head Teachers, 40 Teachers, 70 Pupils and 35 parents of which a sample size of 48 was obtained from using 30%. Purposive sampling technique was used in selecting the head teachers while simple random sampling technique will be used to select the teachers, Pupils and parents who formed the respondents of the study. Questionnaires and interview schedules were used as data collection instruments. Data was analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively and presented in form of tables, percentages and frequency. The study helped in the understanding of the effects of child abuse on the school performance, the realization of the roles parents and teachers play in the curbing of child abuse among pupils and raising awareness on the same.

1.1 Background of the Study
Child abuse is the physical, ****** or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. The consequences of child maltreatment can be profound and may endure long after the abuse or neglect occurs. The effects can appear in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, and may affect various aspects of an individual's development (e.g., physical, cognitive, psychological, and behavioral). These effects range in consequence from minor physical injuries, low self-esteem, attention disorders, and poor peer relations to severe brain damage, extremely violent behavior, and death. In extreme cases, child abuse affects the performance of schools in the affected region (Daniel, 1978).
Performance refers to how students deal with their academic studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers. Performance is also the ability of a school to portray a good image which can influence the public (Decastro, 1978). There are several factors that influence the performance of a school at large, however, there is a critical factor that most researchers have avoided to discuss, and child abuse has been a crucial factor that has contributed to children’s dismal performance. Apart from children’s personal intelligence, child abuse is among then key factors contributing to poor performance of learners. Child abuse can lead to school dropping, emotional trauma or can even be fatal, hence destructing or even terminating the educational ambitions of a child. (Harris, 2005)
Worldwide, according to World Health Organization (WHO, 2000) approximately 40 million children are subjected to child abuse each year. According to Human Rights Watch (2001) about 30% of all severely disabled children relegated to special homes in the Ukraine died before they reached 18 years of age. UNICEF estimates that two million children died as a result of armed conflict during a recent 10-year period and that another six million were injured or disabled. In Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, over 6.5 million children annually are exposed to unwanted ****** materials over the internet; over 1.7 million of these report distress over exposure to these materials. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department for Children and Families (DCF) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. Each year, approximately one million children around the world are introduced into commercial ****** exploitation despite this problem; these developed countries have put measures to curb the vice. Rehabilitation schools have been formed and introduction of counseling centers as well. Despite the prevalence of child abuse in this developed nations they narrowly affect the academic performance since there are organizations put in place to curb the situation e.g. child associations, guidance and counseling institutions, and school based counseling programs (Giles, 2001)
Concern for victims of child abuse in Africa expressed by the African network of the International Society for The Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) which gave five main presentations of child abuse: child labor, street wandering, ****** abuse, child battering and abandonment (Elma, 1977). Child labor according to the international labor organization (ILO), about 10 million children less than 15years in Africa are in formal employment, working long hours with poor pay and are exposed to substantial health hazards. Wandering of children refers to children, usually unkempt and with delinquent propensities, living rough in town. The reasons for children taking to the street remain poorly understood particularly in relation to factors in the child rather than parental hostility and economic (Dubowitz, 2002)
****** abuse is another. For example, arranged under-age marriages are common in some parts of the continent and doubt was often expressed as to whether a young girl fully gave consent to being betrothed (Galdsone, 1965). Prevalence rates in Africa are very difficult to ascertain because of the fear of disclosure by victims and lack of proper documentation. Most of the girls by reasons of shame fear or surprisingly respect for their usually older perpetrators. Physical battering is also eminent. Physical abuse of children is widely claimed to berate in the third world; however, there are anecdotes from east Africa skeletal frame or localized body areas of all first attendees aged 0-12 years at this hospital during the four-year period 1 January 1987 to 31 December 1990 (Garbarino, 1975). Sixty-nine of these reports reveals evidence of multiple bone fractures wither without evidence of rib or skull fracture. Abandonment of children to roam around the streets in what we call street children is also eminent in Africa, though valid and adequate information on abandonment are difficult to obtain due mainly to failure of offending parents to show up out of guilt, shame, judicial repercussions or a combination of these. However, some euro-American missionaries identified inter alia breech birth. (Erickson, 2003)
Child protection measures in Kenya are currently not implemented effectively and fully (Galdstone, 1965). Compliance with such legislation would increase if the magnitude of the problem and better knowledge about the factors that put children at risk was available. Additionally, involving stakeholders, especially agencies charged with protection, as well as involving affected children, will highlight the issues and thereby promote adherence to protection policies. Kenyan children, child activists and children organizations are pinning their hopes on the implementation of the Children’s Act to improve the lot of the nation’s youth. The Act, which came into effect on 1 March 2002, puts in place full safeguards for the rights of the child. Its passage was a giant stride in harmonizing the national laws with international agreements which Kenya has signed such as the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 2002)
There is hope that the new legislation will dramatically change the inattention, neglect and abuse towards child rights. The Act outlaws any form discrimination of children, and forbids Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child prostitution, and child labor, among other forms of abuse. The Children’s Act has immensely improved the lives of many Kenyan children plagued with high illiteracy levels, frequent **** cases and child labor since it guarantees children the right to health and medical care, provision of which is the responsibility of the parents, the extended family and the government (Erickson, 2005).
Cases of child abuse in Uasin-Gishu region have been so eminent in the recent years ((Kenya Media Report, 2004). In the year 2010 and the year 2011, there was a program started to rehabilitate this behavior. This problem is clearly evident when you first arrive in Eldoret town, it is among the towns in the country with the highest number of abandoned children who keep on moving from one Centre to another seeking help from passersby. Parents have developed behaviors of abandoning their children and deliberately sending them to the town so that they can benefit from their borrowing. So to say this has led to child labor in this region. High profile cases of school dropouts have been recorded regarding the environs of this region. Young school children from different locations in Eldoret converge in town to persuade people to offer them financial assistance. Some attend school in numbered days and decide to spend some good number of days out of school.
The communities and societies around tend to assume this situation and term it as norm. A few who might seem concerned lack cooperation from the rest. This has adversely affected the performance of most of schools, hence leading to poor living standards of the people and a poisoned future of a young citizen. The problem has affected learners in regions like many areas in Uasin-Gishu County. It has really affected child development and affected their attendance and performance in school. Little intervention measures has been taken to advocate the holistic development of the children. It was to this reason that the researcher conducted the research in the named above region
1.2 Research Questions
The study was guided by the following questions;
1) What is the effect of child abuse on the academic performance of students in Kapyemit Ward?  
2) What are some of the proposed strategies that schools can employ to curb child abuse?
1.3 Research Objectives
The study was guided by the following research objectives;
1) To identify the effect of child abuse on the academic performance of students in Kapyemit Ward.
2) To identify proposed strategies that can be employed to help curb child abuse.
1.4 Justification of the Study
It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate child abuse prevention into separate categories. For instance, strategies on the societal level include increasing the “value” of children, increasing the economic self-sufficiency of families, discouraging corporal punishment and other forms of violence, making health care more accessible and affordable, expanding and improving coordination of social services, improving the identification and treatment of psychological problems and alcohol and drug abuse, providing more affordable child care and preventing the birth of unwanted children.
Very little analysis has been done to estimate the total cost of preventing child abuse and neglect or the long-term social costs of not preventing it. There is now a move to situate child abuse and neglect within the continuum of intervention which addresses multiple aspects of family behaviors. The efficacy of tackling portions of the problem of child abuse apart from broader societal needs is not known. And, perhaps prevention can only come in tandem with efforts to reduce poverty, improve health care and make children’s issues a national priority. However, despite these constraints, evaluations of prevention programs can be improved by coming to terms with definitions of key varia
Terry Collett Jul 2014
I sat on the front doorstep
with Lydia
of her parents' flat
on the ground floor
looking onto the Square

she had her thin chin
in the palms
of her small hands

her mother's words
still hanging in the air
from moments before

Paddington Railway Station?
you want to go all that way
to see a ****** train station?

Lydia said
we want to see the trains
that go to Scotland

her mother stared at us
as if we started speaking
in a foreign tongue

it isn't Paddington
it's King Cross train station
she said

is it?
I said

yes it is
she said
I should know
her dad goes there
now and then
but not often enough

can we go there?
Lydia asked

what for?
her mother said
all that way
just to see trains to Scotland?

we said jointly

and how are you going
to get there
she said

go by bus or train
I said

have you the money?
because I sure haven't
she said

or underground train
I said
be quicker

have you the money then?
her mother asked

I stared at her hair
pinned in curlers
red lips
arms folded
cigarette in between
her fingers

I can get some
from my old man
he'll give me some
I said

if you can get the money
Lydia's mother said
you can go
but don't be late home
or I’ll slap your backside
my girl

and she went in
and slammed the door

I looked at Lydia beside me
well are we going?

will your dad give you
the money?

I've got some
in the blue
metal money box
he made me
I said

enough to go
to Kings Cross station?

should have

wish we had enough
to go to Scotland
she said

maybe one day
I said smiling

she looked at me
let's go then
she said

so we got off
the front doorstep
and made out way
across the Square
leaving her mother's
words behind
smelling adventure
in the air.
Lydia’s mother shut her front door
and walked through the Square
she met Benny’s mother Etty
coming up the *****
leading to the flats

Yer look done in
Lydia’s mother said

Etty paused pushing the pram
These two kept us awake last night
she said

the other woman
looked in at the twin girls
in the pram

‘ow old are they now?
she said

Just four months
Etty replied

That’s the trouble
at this stage
the woman said
I remember our Lydia
being a pain in the backside
at that stage

How is Lydia?
Etty asked
studying the woman before her
how thin she looked
and her hair hidden
by a headscarf

She’s all right
it’s that boy of mine
that’s the trouble
the woman said
upta mischief all the time

she paused
Your Benny likes ‘is trains
don’t he
she added

Etty smiled
Yes he does
he’s always up some station
watching steam trains
coming in and out

I know
the woman said
‘e takes our Lydia with ‘im

Better that
than up to mischief
Etty said

the woman nodded her head
‘spose so
she said
she looked at Etty
she’s not from around here
she thought to herself

Well must get these two changed
and ready for milk feeding
Etty said  

Of course
the woman said
and watched as Etty
walked up the *****
and around the corner
and out of sight

she sighed
and walked down the *****
to the fish mongers
across the road
to get some kippers for dinner

she waited at the kerb
as a lorry drove past
she hoped Lydia kept
on the right side of things-
but would it last?

— The End —