23 Apr

Matilda Thrush had never been the same since she’d bought something really special at the January Sales last year.
Everyone noticed, even her adult daughter who was far too nice a person to mention anything about a perceived change in the older woman’s personality. But it was her grandson who noticed it most because, well, she was almost a mother to him, taking him to school in the mornings and picking his up at the end of the school day and feeding him at tea time. He noticed, all right, especially when she wasn’t there any more.
Matilda Thrush had bought a little Bag of Delights in the January Sales and it was that purchase that changed her for good.
She hadn’t known why she’d bought it when she handed her money over to a smiling assistant with a cascade of red hair running like stranded rubies over her shoulders. She wasn’t even sure what a Bag of Delights might be, but it crossed her mind that it just might have something to do with Turkish Delight or liquorice. She liked both of those all right, sweets from Heaven she called them.
When she got home with her new purchase she made herself a nice cup of tea, sat in her favourite reclining chair, put her (by then) weary feet up, … and opened her Bag of Delights.
There wasn’t very much inside it but what she did find tucked in one corner took her breath away.
Inside her bag of delights was a golden ticket, maybe a bit like the one that Charlie Bucket used to gain access to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in the book she’d bought years earlier for her children to read, but this one was no entry pass to any factory.
This one had printed on it, quite clear in pitch black lettering, that it would take you to whenever you wanted to go.
Not wherever but whenever.
At first Matilda frowned and puzzled What could it mean, she pondered. And then it hit her and she smiled, then laughed. Whenever was a time, not a place. And this ticket, this small sheet of burnished gold from her Bag of Delights promised to take her to whenever she liked to go.
So she got to thinking.
History had always been a favourite subject years ago when she’d been a schoolgirl, back in the days when the Beatles were beginning to sing their Liverpudlian hearts out and the world was slowly emerging from the grey of the post-war years. So she knew a little bit about loads of different times and she’d always harboured romantic dreams about some of them.
The sixties had been great, hadn’t they?
She clutched the ticket firmly in one hand, closed her eyes, and thought. She thought of herself and her school friends back in the good old days. She remembered how the sun was always shining. She heard the fab four singing their Northern hearts out about love and hope and a future yet to be. Those were the days, surely they were, the best days ever…
And when she opened her eyes she was there. Gone was her little front room with its twenty-first century décor and large black television screen. Gone was her comfy chair with its electric motor that lifted her legs and lowered her back.
And gone was the catalogue of years she’d lived.
Gone was her family, her grandchildren, their little jokes, the laughter they shared, the joys of living.
And gone was the sunshine in her memory as the rain battered down from grey skies as her own mother stormed into the room.
“Just you turn that row off!” she ordered. “I don’t know how you kids can stand so much noise! Turn it off, I say, and get your homework out before your father gets home!”
And she did just that. She knew that she had to. This was too soon for rebellion. She turned the Beatles first single off and reluctantly picked an exercise book from a leather satchel and sulkily started writing in it.
Write an essay about how you see the future… she read, and she automatically picked up a fountain pen from an ink-stained pencil case. An inkling at the back of her mind reminded her that she knew that pencil case, and the ink stains on it… The English teacher had slapped her really hard because of one of them, calling it a mess, saying that no decent child would be happy with a pencil case that looked like that, and certainly not in this best of all schools where only clean and decent girls went.
The future, she wrote, will surely be a lot better than now because the music can only get better and grown-ups might get to eventually understand the kids of today… and she sucked her pen and frowned.
“What am I doing?” she thought as she found herself writing in her exercise book. “I’m on old lady … I’ve lived my life … I have very little future though I do have a golden ticket…”
There will be an end to the Beatles, she wrote, and John Lennon will be shot … Elvis will die and the world will carry on…
Of course it would! The days, the weeks and the months ahead all added up to her life and it had been a good life. Though she had forgotten some of it. Maybe most of it.
“Now don’t you go writing rubbish,” advised her mother, harshly, just behind her “you know what your teacher will say if you write rubbish … she’ll get that cane of hers out, and neither of us wants that, do we?”
Corporal punishment in schools will be banned by law, she wrote, and after that the Berlin wall will come tumbling down….
Mother was standing behind her, looking over her shoulders.
“What Berlin wall?” she asked.
And Boris Johnson will go mad… she wrote, trying to be as neat as she never was.
She looked up at her mother and opened her hand to reveal her precious ticket.
Her black and wrinkled, torn and battered precious ticket. The scrap of paper it hadn’t been.
“I’ll throw that away for you,” said a prim mother. “And who’s Boris Johnson anyway?”
And she did. She took the ticket, the blackened, ugly ticket, from Matilda’s hand and dropped it into the glowing embers of the parlour fire where it danced a moment on a wisp of smoke before bursting into momentary flames.
“Now you’ll have to stay where you’ve almost forgotten!” she hissed, “so do that essay right … or else!”
© Peter Rogerson 23.04.16



  1. georgiakevin April 23, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    Please forgive me, my friend, I haven’t read your work in a while. While reading this I thought, this is good really good. You not only haven’t lost your touch, you have become better at your craft. I won’t miss any more I assure you.

    • Peter Rogerson April 24, 2016 at 8:08 am #

      A great deal of what I’ve been posting this past 6 months has been on writerscafe, being reposts from my Gather days in order to keep them where they might be found by the curious.

      • georgiakevin April 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

        I really miss Gather.

  2. Peter Rogerson April 24, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    Same here. But all things must pass, I suppose. There’s still an active gather group on Facebook, you know.

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