Summer 1962

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LIVING SMOKE by Peter Ryan (4S)

The oily black smoke rose from the singed grass as many people in their nightclothes, ran across the cold recreation ground to view the dismal scene. A plane had crashed in the large recreation ground of a new-town. A few minutes after the crash the fire brigade came running across the damp, sodden grass. The red hot metal of the fuselage was a challenge to any fireman, who dared to trespass into the interior, which belched forth oily particles of clothing surrounded by impregnable smoke.

Two hours later, the surface of a somewhat blemished summers day. The black smoke still poured from the nose of the plane, but now all the passengers had been rescued from the wreck, except three. An elderly lady, a middle aged company director and a young girl, whose life had been halted at the age of twenty-one. The bodies of these unlucky people were found, charred and diminished at the back of the plane; they "signed their own death warrant" when they decided to isolate themselves from the rest of the passsngers.

The three people dead, but not vey sad, because far above the wreck in a column of thick smoke, the spirits of the three people were looking in amazement at the gaping crowd around the p]ane. The director was quite indignant about notice being taken of him when he was floating skywards for what appeared to him, no reason at all. He turned to the others, "Miss Prichard, Mrs. Wilson, what is happening."

Miss. Pritchard tried to comfort him, "Now Mr. Johnson, I'm afraid you will have to face the fact...I'm... that we are dead."

Mrs Wilson shook with shock, "But we can't be, I can see you and you're real."

At this moment, a cloud enveloped the group and a polite cough made them turn round, to see a small, grey haired old man, sitting at a desk, "Mrs. Wilson, Miss Pritchard and Mr.Johnson?" The trio produced nervous little nods. "Well I'm afraid there has been a little accident. I was jotting down your particulars - age, cause of death etc. - and he..." his voice lowered to a whisper, "The man downstairs that is, stole my ink; I can't get any more for another day or so. So that you see you cannot be allowed in just yet. I am afraid that you will have to go back the same way you came, by smoke."

In a flash, the three were wafted away and found themselves in different places.

Miss Pritchard found herself in the smoke around the ceiling of the local, youth club. There, in the corner, was her boy-friend, and there beside him, was the girl that she hated most, Emilia Bigtop, commonly known as Soffia. the "Great". Miss Pritchard looked enviously at Emilia, "I knew that she would be after him as soon as I turned my back. Oh, that girl."

Mr. Johnson landed amongst the cigar smoke of his board-room. There was his boss and Witherington, the only man Johnson knew, who cut his cornflakes in half to save money. The Boss was speaking, "Now Witherington, we're all very distressed at the news of Mr. Johnson's death, but we cannot afford to slip, therefore, I am giving you Mr. Johnson's post.

Witherington straightened his tie and stood to attention, "I shall do my best Sir, and Sir, do I get the five shilling a week stamp allowance." Mr. Johnson snarled, but he could do nothing.

At last, the trio reached the desk again and were let in, away from the greed of life.

When watching the smoke from a coal fire, we sometimes see shapes and faces formed; I wonder if perhaps some of the faces are real.

THE STORM by John Anderson (2R)

On a quiet but dull Friday morning, the B.B.C. predicted a storm coming from the South and which would, hit the South Eastern coast of Britain, the people being advised to stay indoors after everything was securely held down by ropes. That day was spent tying everything down and at midday everything was secure. Over the wireless came a gale warning for the people on the South-East coast for them to move into houses and cellars further inland.

An hour later the sky became black with thick clouds and rain started falling. A flash of lightning streaked across the sky, which hit a tree. The tree toppled over in a fiery ball of flame. Several people were trapped underneath but nobody could help them. There were cries of agony and shrieks for help. By the time the fire-brigade got there, there was nothing left but a smouldering tree and burnt bodies crushed underneath it.

The trees began to creak and dance about with the leaves being blown along, the wind was nearing. The rain came down even more harder and the drains were overflowing with the water. The gale was getting nearer and everybody was under cover. The howling of the wind grew more distinct and pitter-patter of the rain sounded like a drummer beating away on his drums. The wind was growing to a shrill whistle but still the gale did not come. Many people were unnerved by the storm but most of them were still sleeping or singing hymns.

Suddenly a shrill shriek was heard and the storm was here. The rain was so heavy that if a bucket were put out it would be filled to the brim in a second arid then blown away by the wind. A baby screamed and the mother hushed it back to sleep. There was a little hole in the shutter and every few moments the rain dripped into this hole and fell into the hair of the child sitting below the window. The child moved and I peeped out of the hole but could see nothing but the falling of rain and the falling of the shed in the yard. The wind howled more quickly and everybody grew afraid.

Inside the building were five families each of them afraid. Hot tea was served and sandwiches handed out. Each person ate his or her share. Some people did not eat anything as they explained that they did not have the appetite to. A man was reading a book to three children, the book was "Grimm's Fairy Tales". The children were deeply absorbed by the story and did not even notice the howling of the wind. In a dark corner a woman was crying, not very loud, but could be heard from ten yards away. I went over to her and asked her why she was crying. She said that by the end of the storm, there would be no house or garden left in the village, and hers was always the best kept. I reassured her that the garden would not be damaged very much. Just at that moment the light went out. I went to the meter and found that every dial had gone to nought. I put a sixpence in but nothing happened. I then realised that the line must have broken somewhere. I explained to the people and candles wore lit. In the hall was a telephone which I tried but the line was dead. Now we had no means of talking to people who were not affected by the storm.

Outside the storm was howling even louder but the rain had eased up a little. We had to have some more food so I tried to go outside but as soon as I tried the rain started down even harder than before.

Twice I tried this hut; twice I failed. A sheet of corrugated iron smashed against the door and nearly smashed it in half. Planks of wood were fetched, and the door fixed up. A crashing noise started everybody as a tree fell onto a nearby house. I peeped outside again and saw pieces of wood, roofs and trunks of trees flying about everywhere. The wind died away and the rain stopped. The door was opened and we stepped out. A few people had gone through the door when the rain started and wind howled once more. They dashed for cover hack into this house.

The storm picked up more violence than it had done before. The shutters at the front of the house ware flung open by the wind and rain poured in by the bucket-full. The shutters were shut again. A few hours later the wind stopped but the rain carried on, but becoming less heavy all the time.

The rain stopped and the sun started to shine. The shutters were pushed open; everybody waited for the storm to start up again. It didn't, and everybody was shouting and one woman even knelt down and prayed. As soon as everybody was outside we looked around.

About us were pieces of wood and trees but there were no houses to be seen, except for the remains of the walls. Bricks and furniture were scattered about all over the place. Everybody looked about in dismay and then walked off to where their houses had once stood. At the foot of our garden were several dead birds and a dog with his head just visible from under a pile of bricks. There were families sitting on the remains of their houses. That day was a sad day for everybody. The roof of the three story mansion had been ripped off and part of the wall blown down. The streets were covered in bricks, lamp posts, telegraph poles and everything that could be imagined. A Bulldozer came by and helped to clear up the mess. In a few days the streets were cleared and men were building new houses while the old occupants moved to stay with relations. In the time left a story was written about the storm by someone who had been in one of the houses that had stayed put against the storm. The book was called "The Storm".

SUPPORTERS' LAMENT by Christine Rudd

The day was cold when we set out,
To queue to see the Spurs once more.
Not knowing what we had in store.
Four hours went by, but hearts were stout,
Near to the ground, we heard a shout.
A policeman cried, "There are no more"
The queue broke up, and our hearts were sore,
And we were trampled in the rout.

Supporters true are treated, thus!
In future we might stay in bed,
Unless we get a better chance.
Now, we will have to make a fuss,
"Tickets for Spurs fans first instead!"
Why can't we get them in advance?


Oh Blackbird,
Perched, on your throne,
Of wood, metal
slate or clay,
Looking down on the world,
and caressing the air,
With rollicking tenderness.

Your voice,
Is the voice of the oppressed,
Crying aloud. Your eyes,
Are the eyes of great monarchs,
Ruling the earth. Your freedom,
Is the freedom of old tramps.
Walking the road, Your wings,
Are the wings of time
Beating strong.

The dumb have no voice,
The blind have no eyes,
The captives have no freedom,
And only birds have wings.
You have all those things.
And yet you sit,
looking down on the world,
And caressing the air
With the rollicking tenderness
Of your voice.

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