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Piccalili Circus

by Amos 

Posted: 07 December 2004
Word Count: 303
Summary: Just a snippet. I might try and take it further, but I would be interested in what people think!

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Thereís a photograph of us all on my mumís mantelpiece. A colour picture of faded browns, oranges and beige. Itís my sisterís wedding, 1976, the year of the big heatwave and a minister for drought. She was married on a Saturday and turned 21 on the following Wednesday.

The whole family is standing there in the most awful fashions. Me in sandals, grey trousers, a corduroy jacket and a cream shirt straining at the buttons. My mumís smiling, although a few minutes earlier she stood sour-faced at the steps to the registry office saying Ďheís not going to come!í But the bridegroom did come. I think this made her even more sour.

My dadís brother, Derrick, was there all the way from New Zealand, Pukha Sahib with his regimental badge on his blazer. It was the first time they had seen each other since India in the 1950s. My dad looks younger, brown suede shoes and big bushy eyebrows whirling out of control. Uncle Derrickís wife, May, had wanted to cut his eyebrows, but my sister said ĎNo! Itís my wedding day! Leave my dad alone!í

We had the reception in the village hall near where my mum had grown up. It hadnít changed at all, my mum said. There was a disco with a DJ who spent most of the evening chatting up the birds. My mum did all the catering Ė sandwiches with cheese and piccalilli or processed ham and mustard, chicken drumsticks and vol au vents piled high with prawns in pink sauce. All my aunts and uncles Ė on my mumís side Ė got pissed and danced a lot. There were no fights.

It was noisy. It was busy. I was happy. I remember being happy, which is strange because I always tell people I had a miserable childhood.

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Comments by other Members

FX at 20:12 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
This is short, but it's full of images and the use of language kind of insinuates its way into your brain. It's impossible to tell where you're going with it, but it is an interesting lead-in.

Sue H at 20:23 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
This feels like the start of something. It leaves lots of questions. Why was mum so sour? Why didn't she think the groom was going to come? What happened in India in the 50s? There are lots of lovely details of the period - the type of food, the brown and orange clothes, that make it seem so real. I want to know why the narrator said s/he had a miserable childhood. Like Fx, I don't where this will lead but hopefully it will go somewhere!

scoops at 20:39 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
A lively and nostalgic series of images with a strong narrative voice. I felt great empathy with the last line, which pulled it all together, and I'm sure it'll touch a chord with others:-) Shyama

Amos at 22:17 on 07 December 2004  Report this post
Thank you all for your thoughts and encouragement . It's great to have this kind of support and feedback to be able to tap in to.

As for the text, jeez, I wish I knew where it was leading as well!



Account Closed at 12:49 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
I thought this had a nice flow to it, and maybe a tinge of underlying humour. Certainly, it's written nicely. I'd like to see more before I judged it though.

scottwil at 13:40 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
I enjoyed this, Amos. I particularly liked the title. There are plenty of unsanswered questions here, but it's intriguing and well told.

I think the last line is just terrific and shows you have excellent comic timing.

Your dad's poor brother appears to have been named after a piece of oil drilling equipment.


Amos at 13:53 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
Thanks Sion

That's the actual spelling - his daughters are called Louris (not Louise) and Mauveen (not Maureen), so there is obviously some kind of dyslexic gene floating around my family.

My dad's called Mervyn, which is pretty normal by comparison.

I'm glad you like the title. I thought if I could turn it into a novel I would call it 'Cortina Land'. What do you think?


Dee at 14:29 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
Hey, Amos, are you my long-lost brother? I got married in 1976. (thankfully, it didnít last) My mother did the catering too. How on earth did people ever think Ďprocessedí ham was a good thing to eat?

I think we all weave a little of ourselves into our writing. We can fall back on our experiences, imagine how we feel or act in given circumstances. But remember itís fiction Ė unless it really is a biography Ė and donít worry too much about fact getting in the way of a good story.

This is well written, easy to read and Iíd like to see some more.

For what itís worth, I prefer the present title to the other one.


Sue H at 14:38 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
I prefer the current title too. We used to have luncheon meat - whatever that was!!

Amos at 14:42 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
Luncheon meat - chopped pork and ham? Or is that just Spam?

Dash it, I like Cortina Land. Maybe I'll keep it for a chapter.

Sue H at 14:43 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
Or a theme park?

Amos at 14:55 on 08 December 2004  Report this post

I could open a chain of them across the globe

Capri World, Allegro City, Vauxhall Victor Studios, the Moris Ital Water Park!

Fieth at 23:13 on 15 December 2004  Report this post
I enjoyed the flow and detail. Yes weddings were like that then! My mum did the catering at my wedding too in 1968.Oh dear that spam memory! Your enjoyment of the event is evident and an adult retrospective thought that you were happy then, is amusing. Keep writing and answering some of the questions. Why was your mother sour?
Cheers, Val

Amos at 13:04 on 16 December 2004  Report this post
Thanks Val

I'm thinking sliced ham, the sort you get in packets, as opposed to freshly carved meat from a cooked ham. But would you still consider it processed ham?

Ooh, nostalgic memory alert! That's just made me think of tinned ham that used to (still does?) come in an odd rounded triangle tin. It always had a yellowish jelly clinging it - a schoolfriend once described the jelly as being like Whiskas cat food and I could never eat it again after that. I always remember it being around home at Christmas time - I'm sure the brand name was Oak!

I like the point you make about answering questions - this could be a form of therapy for me! Of course that might mean it becomes tiresome for the reader after the hundredth childhood observation?

Thanks for the comments and encouragement Val. Much appreciated.

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