This is a story from Gillian.


My name is Amanda Pendleton-Fosdyke.   There were so many Amandas at my school that I was nicknamed Fozzy.   Daddy calls me that in a jokey sort of way, but Mummy was very correct and always called me Amanda.   Mummy was the Hon Lavinia Morpeth before she married, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever forgot that.   Daddy didn’t have a title, but he is enormously rich, being something obscure in the City.    He is expecting a title any day now, as he will soon retire.     David and he are very close.   That’s Cameron to you.

Mummy always expected me to marry a suitable young man, and breed some more aristocratic children.   She was always pushing gormless young men at me, but I put them off quite easily when I started talking about my passion.

I was never a horsey child, though I was forced to learn to ride, but I much preferred sneaking off to the various pubs and clubs and hangouts in London where real funky music was played.   I discovered I had a rip-roaring voice that could shake the rafters of any pub, so I became the lead singer in the group we formed.  ‘We’ being the friends I made as soon as I left school and could get away.   I was never A level material, so Mummy enrolled me in a sort of finishing college near us in Bayswater when I left school at 16.    She thought I should shake off what she called ‘my hoydenish ways’ and make some ‘nice’ friends.   Who, after all, might have eligible brothers.

Well, that didn’t work out.   She was horrified when one of my more disreputable-looking boyfriends arrived in his psychedelic old banger, which had been souped up to make the most glorious noise.

When I was 18 I left home, and went to live with Jake, who shared a scruffy house in a highly unfashionable part of east London with 4 other men and their girl friends.   Life was glorious, unhygienic and totally liberating.   Jake played the sax in the band, I sang, and Ivan and Jerry played the drums and guitar, and any other instrument they could get their hands on.   Those two were Polish or something, with unpronounceable names, but answered quite happily to Ivan and Jerry.

All this fell apart when I became pregnant.   No one had any money for an abortion, and somehow that didn’t seem an option to me, so I kept singing, kept going, until I was so large the men got worried I would drop the baby on the stage.

I couldn’t imagine bringing up a baby in that rather squalid place, and when my labour pains suddenly started, decided to place myself at the mercy of the parental home.   I packed up what little I possessed in a Tesco carrier bag, and managed to rake up the taxi fare home.    The taxi driver took one look at me and drove so fast we made it in record time.    The housekeeper who answered the door said ‘Miss Amanda!’ in a horrified voice, and pulled me in.

‘It’s an ambulance you need right now, never mind what’s been going on’ she said and dialled 999.

The ambulance arrived just in time, and baby Laura was delivered quite quickly.   I was taken off to the nearest Maternity Unit, as it was discovered I had never seen a Doctor for the whole of my pregnancy.

Daddy was tickled pink at the thought of being a Grandfather, but Mummy was quite horrified, and I think would have liked to have got rid of me as well as the baby.

Mummy was given 20 years for Laura’s murder, and is now at Styal, hundreds of miles away.   I haven’t forgiven her for what she did to that little defenceless baby, nor for saying ‘No black baby is ever going to be part of our family’.

Oh, didn’t I say?   Jake was Jamaican.

© Gillian Peall 2017


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