Mon and Woyfe

Write 500 words in the voice of a character retelling a story from their childhood. Try to make the narrator come to life by showing their individual conversational style and mannerisms, their point of view.   Perhaps highlighting the different way in which children and adults perceive events.

(OK, I admit I cheated slightly for this exericse and used a passage – of which I am still very proud – from my first novel Classmates.  It just seemed to fit very well, and was conveniently close to the word limit too.  I have tweaked here and there, to improve on what I wrote five years ago.)

Mon and Woyfe

I married Karl on a July afternoon when the sky was the flawless blue and the sun the flamboyant orange my junior school paintings insistently depicted.  The crisp, salady scent of freshly mown grass wafted through the hall windows – a summer aroma that forever evokes that day.

Vacuum-packed into an organza frock as stiff and creamy as an Angel Delight, and clutching a posy of pink plastic roses, I bobbed from foot to jellybean sandal-clad foot, lisping my vows behind my net curtain veil.
Bradley Round, the pageboy, was intently picking his nose; my bridesmaid, Samantha Potter, was just as becomingly absorbed, extricating her billowy petticoats from her knickers.

Karl, tall, windswept of hair, snub of nose, in his waistcoat and velveteen shirt, was, as ever, the picture of impish self-confidence.  Nothing has ever fazed Karl Corbett.

There were titters from the enormous congregation as the vicar, Shane Ashcroft, pronounced us, in broad Black County, ‘mon and woyfe.’  (‘Yow may now kiss the broyde’ was an entreaty mercifully omitted from Rev Ashcroft’s sermon.)

To compound the indignity, one congregation member was a Dudley News photographer.  My mother still has his yellowing close-up of ‘the happy couple’ in her scrapbook.

The caption croons beneath it:

LESSONS IN LOVE: Holly Lane Primary School pupils Karl Corbett and Zoe Taylor, both aged six, in costume for their Royal Wedding project.

I have not seen it for years as I, sadly, can recall my piteous appearance without pictorial aids.  Absent front teeth; punkish hair, so incongruous with frills and posies; chubby little body straining for freedom from the chafing dress.

A confirmed tomboy, I abhorred dresses – especially ill-fitting ones exhumed from bottoms of dressing-up boxes.  I remember my wild longing to tear that cream monstrosity from my back in exchange for my usual uniform of either dungarees or a velour tracksuit.

It was 1981.  With Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s nuptials days away, Class 1F was in the grips of joyous, red-and-blue-streamer, commemorative-mug-and-tea-towel fever.  It was the delightful idea of our teacher, Miss Flint, that Karl, Shane, Sam, Brad and I re-enact a wedding in mildewy fancy dress costumes for the whole school (sardonic, comp-bound eleven-year-olds included) on the final day of term.

My casting as bride was down to Miss F also – influenced by my blonde pageboy cut which entertained vague Diana-like pretensions.  Or rather it had until the week preceding the mock marriage.

My poor mother had found me, on precarious tiptoes at the mirror, studiously hewing away with her nail scissors.  A flaxen pond encircled my feet, leaving a crest of anarchic tufts and fronds like a very early Bart Simpson prototype.

‘What – have – you – done?’  Mom yelped.

‘I thought it would look nice.’  Contrite tears were already gurgling up to mirror those dismayingly glazing her kind eyes.

My ragamuffin image did not excuse me from conjugal enactments, but that hideous newspaper snap proved a fantastic deterrent against DIY hairdressing.  I have never so much as lopped off a split end since.