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Jim Minton is a new writer of fiction, based in London but raised in the North East of England. On this website you can read his published works, which are mostly - but not all - darkly funny tales of growing up in Northumberland. You can also find out about Undertone, his new novel and read more about Jim, if you wish. All works are his copyright. So you can't pretend they are yours, even if you want to!


Gary Heron come running in the bogs shouting, ‘How man, get outside, man! There’s a barney gannin on.’
I yanked me tracky bottoms up, hoping the damp from where I dribbled down me pants didn’t show through. I was out straight after Gary, Mrs Graves giving us a ‘What you up to?’ look over her jam jar glasses as we flew past her but it was play time so she couldn’t stop us going outside even though it was raining.
Round the back of the shed where Mr Graham the caretaker keeps the grass cutter everyone was standing in a circle, pushing and shouting ‘Scrap! Scrap! Scrap!’
I could see Gary, he had his parka hood up. His parka’s blue not like most the others that are green and I wriggled through to him, pushing past Steven Crossman who was after us last week but I think must have forgot by now. Crossman was talking to Paul Dodds and they were laughing about something, not watching the fight. In front of Gary there were two lads on the deck gripping each other. I could see from where I was standing that one of them was Biggsy but I couldn’t see who else was under him as Biggsy had the lad in a neck lock. He was pummelling the top of his head and trying to crush his arm into the wet ground.
‘Who’s that, like?’ I said to Gary.
‘Biggsy,’ he said.
I said, ‘No man, I knaa its Biggsy, but who else is it?’
And he said,’It’s Biggsy an’all. The other one. His twin brother.’
I Should have guessed. They were always scrapping John and Alan Biggs.
And then I could see Alan’s face as his head slipped out of John’s arms for a second. His hair’s shorter, that’s how you can tell them apart.
John screamed out loud as Alan bit him on the hand and gripped hold of him with his jaws like you see lions do on the telly when they catch antelopes and that.
John rocked back and then Alan was on top and he was grabbing John’s wrist and geet whacking it off the floor and then John’s watch which he’d only been given by his nan for his birthday yesterday was flying off his wrist and you could hear the glass shattering on the concrete.
I dug Gary in the ribs and said, ‘Shite man, that’s his new watch!’
And Gary nodded and then John was on his feet tearing at his brother Alan’s arm,clawing until he ripped the strap off his new watch, which his nan had given him yesterday which was his birthday an all. And when the watch fell on the ground Alan couldn’t stop John from jumping on it, sticking the heel of his monkey boot on top of it and grinding until I heard something go pop.
I went to nudge Gary again but he’d gone. And when I looked round, him and Steven Crossman were running to get back to the play yard and all the other lads were legging it and Mrs Graves was marching across the concrete splashing through the puddles her tights getting specks of brown water all up them, and she was shouting, ‘John and Alan Biggs! Stop that right now!’
Behind her Mr Thomson was hurrying to catch her up, he still had a mug of tea in his hand and he looked daft trying not to spill it as he hollered, ‘Get back inside to your classes!’ to the boys that were hanging round still.
At dinner break we went out the gates across the Mace shop to get some sweets. I had put me kagoul on since it was still raining. It’s bright orange, with one of them zip pockets on the front. Me and Gary went in the shop first and behind us were Wrighty and Kevin Foster.
In the shop there was a little kid sitting on Mr Gray’s counter crying pointing his fingers out at his mam, saying, ‘Mam I want a ogit.’
And his mam was ignoring him, trying to get some more tins in her basket. I recognised her, she was the Avon Lady. The little lad was dribbling down his front, and his fat face made his eyes all tiny and slitty and red from bealing and he said again ‘Mam, I want a ogit!’
And she said ‘Ye cannit have a yoghurt man.’
And he said, ‘But I want one’
And the Avon lady said, ‘But what you want and what you get aren’t always the same thing, Malcolm.’ And she picked him up off the counter and put him in his push chair geet hard to shut him up.
I got some fizz bombs and a curly wurly. Gary got the same but he had enough for two more fizz bombs than us. Wrighty and Kevin just got some penny chews after Gary borrowed them some coin. They had free meals so their mams never gave them dinner money.
When we went back outside Steven Crossman and Warren Clubly were going in the shop. Clubly was carrying a football under his arm.
Clubly said, ‘Areet?’
I said. ‘Areet,’ back.
We stood for a bit not wanting to go back in the school gates yet, when Clubly came back outside and put the football down by the door.
‘Mr Gray said ball was dirty so I couldn’t have it in the shop’, he said and went back in.
Wrighty pointed at the ball. ‘Haweh let’s nick it.’
And Gary grinned, his mouth all red from the fizz bombs and Kevin Foster leant down and picked up Clubly’s ball and we all ran back in the play yard and Kevin booted it up onto the top field and went charging after it. We went bombing through Avril Maynard and Karen Hebson who were playing with skipping ropes and barging into Thomas Hennessey who was chasing a plastic bag around.
When the bell went we went inside and Wrighty had the ball under his arm. Clubly and Steven Crossman were waiting for us in the class and since Mr Dawson wasn’t back in yet Clubly was straight over to try and get it back but Gary wouldn’t let him past. He was canny fat, Gary.
Wrighty was laughing and he bounced the ball over to Kevin. He banged into Catherine Thompson when he caught it and she called him a stupid idiot. Wrighty laughed at that and Catherine went over and started whacking him on his arms and they were grinning and I thought ‘she fancies him.’
And then Kevin was holding the ball up and he hoyed it in the air and jumped and did a header and everyone cheered and the ball was flying over the desks and I stuck out me hand and tried to catch it, but it hit the end of me thumb and bounced onto the deck and then everyone was laughing and pointing at me shouting ‘Egnaro! Egnaro!’
That’s what they call us, ‘Egnaro’. It’s orange backwards.
It’s cos I wore me orange kagoul back to front one day.
I bent down to pick the ball up before Clubly could get over to us, and held it above me head and he was jumping up to try and get it off us so I hoyed it hard away.
The classroom door opened and in come Mr Dawson just as the ball hit one of the big glass lampshades and knocked it down and it landed bang, hard on top of Steven Crossman’s head and it was like an explosion when the glass shattered. Steven was on the floor with blood pouring out his head and there was glass all over, and Dawson was shouting, ‘What the hell have you done?’
And Catherine Thompson was screaming. She had blood on her legs and Steven Crossman was just lying there still.
I grabbed me bag off the chair and ran out the door and I could hear someone shouting ‘Stop! Stop!’ and people crying and running down the corridor.

Now I’m sitting here in this phone box in me orange kagoul and its dark and it’s still raining outside and I want to ring me mam but I know that if I ring she’ll tell us Steven Crossman’s dead and I killed him and I’m shaking and me face is wet where I’ve been crying and it stinks of piss in here, and I think it’s mine.

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