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Heather Ball

My Father

My parents were always poor. My father was ostracised by his family for becoming a "Bolshevik" (as they chose to call it), and marrying a "common shop girl"  . . . as they chose to describe my mother. It was a "never-darken-my-doors-again" situation. In fact he did try to "darken their doors" again when he hit upon very hard times but they would not lend him any money. They would have none of him and he was to remember this with bitterness for the rest of his life. It also meant that I was never to meet my paternal grandparents or my aunt and uncle.

The Bailiffs

When I was about twelve years old the bailiffs came to our house. While everyone was out they let themselves in the front door by a key which hung down inside the letterbox on a piece of string, carried out two worn-out old armchairs, a shabby old sofa with the springs poking through the cushions and a wobbly dining-room table and chairs, loaded them all onto a van and drove off. On our return from visiting a neighbour my mother and I found an empty living room.

Madness - A Short Story

I recently made an appointment to see my doctor. He sat at his desk and I sat on a chair to the side of him. He had my records in front of him with one eye on me and another on them.

He asked "now tell me what can I do for you?"

I told him "I think I'm going mad."

He turned a page of my notes to see, I think whether there was any record of my ever having gone mad before. "So," he said, sitting back in his seat and clasping his hands together. "What on earth makes you think that?" I told him that everything on earth made me think that. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "Can you be a little more specific?"

"Yes," I said, "people are killing one another, if not in one way then in some other way, pollution, malnutrition . . . "

He frowned at me. "You can't do anything about that, it is the way of the world. That is how the world has always been."

Book Review: 'Children of the Revolution: Communist Childhood in Cold War Britain'

"Communist Kids"

'Children of the Revolution: Communist Childhood in Cold War Britain' by Phil Cohen, Lawrence & Wishart. £12.99.

To begin with I was quite excited at the prospect of reading this book. In a sense I would be returning to my childhood, to a life shared with a Communist Party father, and then later on to a schism in that relationship during the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the revelations about Stalin, and to my subsequent resignation from the Communist Party at the age of twenty-two.

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