Which brings us to vuh strangest part ov our story and hopefully explains why we done what we did.              

          We charged down vee embankment without finking too much about what it was we were doin. I dont fink eeva of us fought we were highwaymen or anyfin like vat. If we fought anyfin – which I really dont fink we did – it was just: move fast and get vis ova wiv.  

              Even froo duh vinegar, vuh smell was bad. Mi eyes were waterin so I cunt see all vat well. If I had to count voh I’d say it was maybe ten seconds from vuh top of vee embankment to us standing beneath vuh bare branches and by vee exposed roots at vuh foot of vuh shit tree. Up close it was ovvious vat vuh tree had been takin a batterin. Vere were oles all up an down vuh trunk. I say oles. Was shit really. Vere was dried shit up and down vuh trunk, dried shit vat was pluggin vee oles made by vuh fumbs over vuh last however many days an weeks an monfs and maybe even years. We dint know. 

              Was sen dat I noticed Noo-Noo had a stick voh. 

              I said to her, What are you gonna do wiv vat? 

             She grinned and she pointed vuh stick, like it was a long witchy finger, at vuh trunk of vuh tree. 

              I dint follow cos, like I say, I’m slow on vee uptake, me. So I said What? 

             Noo-Noo rolled her eyes and gently poked vuh stick into one of vuh plugs of dried shit. 

             And vat was when we heard duh voice. 

             Hannah, duh voice said, clear as day. Don’t take the kids off me. They mean the world to me. I can’t function without them. I need the kids, Hannah. The kids are my life. Please don’t do this to me. Don’t make me into the monster. Call me. Tell me where you are. I’m at my wit’s end, Hannah. My wit’s end.  

             Was like the fuckin shit tree was speakin. Soon as Noo-Noo’s stick poked a hole in vuh dried shit, vere was vis voice. Was like vee ole was a mouf. An vuh voice was sweet and sad and pleadin. I tell you. We nearly fuckin shit are pants, me and Noo-Noo. It was scary. Make no mistake about vat. But it was fuckin weird an excitin an all. 

              Do anuvva, I said. Do anuvva.  

              Noo-Noo dint need any promptin. She jammed vuh tip of duh stick into anuvva hole and ven she twisted her wrist sose vat duh stick cleared all vuh shit away quicksmart, quicksmart, quicksmart, vuh way you would if you were clearing jagged glass out of dee edges ov a windowframe after youd smashed a window.               

            We erd a diffrent voice vis time:  

             Paula. Please forgive me. I never meant to hurt you. It would never have worked out. I had to do what I did. It was the only way. You have to live your life, Paula. Live your life and be happy.  

            Anuvva, I said. Anuvva. Anuvva. Even before vuh second voice ‘d even finished speaking: Anuvva, anuvva, anuvva.  

            Kate, a fird voice said. Kate? Can you hear me? Where are you? I’ve looked everywhere but I can’t find you. You’ve got to help me a little bit. I need a clue or something. I can’t wait out here in the dark all Winter, you know? Throw me a bone. Throw me a bone and maybe just maybe we can work this thing out. Throw me a bone, okay? And throw it soon. 


              And ven:  

            Joe. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell you. It was the sex. Having sex with you made me ill. You were so strange. All those sudden jerks and hiccups. It was just so weird. And the peanut butter. I hate peanut butter. I’m sorry you didn’t understand. I never meant for you to do what you did. I didn’t know how much it meant.               

            And ven:    

          Tara. I still love you. I still feel the same way. I haven’t changed. I won’t change. Please give us another chance. Please. We could be so good you and me. Just give us a chance, baby. Please.   

             And so it went on: Tracey an Kayleigh an Famida an Grace an Isabel an Milly an Heather an Jess an Sarah an Liz. On and on and on and on. An howevermany oles we stuck, vere were still more. Vuh more we lookt, vuh closer we got, vuh more oles we saw. Vere were fousands of oles in vuh shit tree. Fousands. I cunt see for vee oles. My art was racin. I was standin vere just sayin anuvva anuvva anuvva ova an ova again. Do anuvva, Noo. Do anuvva. Even after Noo-Noo stopt, I was sayin Do anuvva, Noo. Do anuvva. 

               I dint register any difference between what I was feelin and what Noo-Noo was feelin and I want aware of Noo-Noo clamberin back up vee embankment or nuffin. Vuh first fing, vuh first point of dischord, you might say, I picked up on was Noo-Noo smashing the perfume bottle sheed robbed offof her mam at the base of vuh tree. She just barged by me, barged me out ov vuh way, in point ov fact, and smashed vuh bottle against the roots. I was like fuckin ell, Noo-Noo – but vats when I saw Noo-Noo was all glassy-eyed. She lookt like a fuckin zombie or some’ing. N vere were tears streamin down her kipper an all. I was all, Sup, Noo-Noo? Sup? But Noo-Noo wunt speak. She smashed vuh perfume bottle and she started pattin her pockets. Course now I know she was lookin for her matches. 

              But she want finking straight. She want. At vuh time I dint know vat one ov vuh voices weed herd was her dad. How was I to know vat ven? I dint know Noo-Noo’s dad. Ide never been to her ouse or nuffin. All I know is vat Noo-Noo herd her dad and set fire to vuh tree and burned vuh shit tree down to vuh ground. We stood vere, vuh two ov us, watching vuh shit tree burn, watchin vuh bloody mice crisp and crackle, watchin the paint run scared offof the kettles and vuh toasters, watchin vuh bike turn black and char like a corpse, watchin vuh polyfene hiss and evaporate like the steam offof mi piss – and I know, I know now, what we did was wrong, burning vuh tree was wrong. I know vat.   

            It’s just. Fire is like that, innit? Watching somefin burn. You can’t look away, can you? 

            And Ive fought about vis a lot. Ive fought about this a lot a lot. All vuh fumbs vat sealed veir voices up inside vuh tree. All vose words. Vere better off in vuh world. When Noo-Noo burned vuh shit tree down, she was doing all vose people a favour.   

             Seems to me, you don’t solve nuffin when you bottle it up inside. You have to open your mouth and fill your lungs and scream whatever it is into vuh world. 

            You do vat and veres a chance vat you might be heard.  

            Vats what I fink.


Extra SVG!!! Oh Joy!!!

April 6, 2007

 Peter Wild


Lee Rourke


Course I had to tell Noo-Noo soon as I saw her and first she dint believe me but ven when I showed her vuh tree she could see for herself vat vere was a bit of vuh trunk that was rucked up and covered in shit. Noo-Noo being Noo-Noo voh, she saw some’ing else as well. She pointed and said What about vat vere? an I said What about wot where? and Noo-Noo said Vere! Vere! sort of pointing wiv ver knuckles. I dint see straight away. She had to tell me what it was I was sposed to be lookin for. Turns out vere was anuvva spot, slightly higher up vuh trunk, wiv rucked wood and shit. Soon as we saw one we saw anuvva. Vuh trunk was covered in oles. We cunt believe we hant seen em before. Vere were roles everywhichwhere. Eeva vuh fumb Ide seen earlier dat day had been busy stabbing holes in vuh tree and fillin em wiv shit or – Noo-Noo pushed herself up offof her knees at vis point and punched me in vuh shoulder – or all vuh fumbs weed been seeing vis last couple of weeks were all coming to vuh shit tree. I pushed miself up an all, from elbows to knees, and opened mi mouf cos I cunt believe it even voh I fought Noo-Noo was on to somefin. But why? I said. Why would anyone stab a hole in vuh trunk ov a tree and ven fill vee hole wiv shit? Noo-Noo said she dint know but she knew how we could find out.  So we set up a camp. Right vere. Up on vee embankment. And we took turns to guard vuh shit tree and keep a lookout for any fumbs wot might chance along. Course we cunt maintain vuh camp all vuh time cos we had to go home and have are tea and sleep in are beds and sometimes we cunt get out ov school an all vuh rest of it but whenever we had vuh chance to get down to vuh canal we manned our lookout and kept watch on vuh tree.  

Vuh first time me and Noo-Noo saw a fumb proachin vuh tree we dint do nuffin, we just watched. We just watched cos Noo-Noo hant seen what it was vat vuh fumbs did so we just watched and watched and vuh fumb – who was a different fumb from vuh fumb vat I had seen – did everyfin vat I had seen vee other fumb do. By which I mean to say vat he got down on his knees in vuh shit, stabbed at vuh trunk of vuh tree wiv a knife til he made a nole then put his mouf to vee ole sose he could eat vuh tree or kiss vuh tree or do whatever it was vat vuh fumbs did. When vuh fumb was done, he filled vee ole vat he made wiv shit and ven he sortof stumbled off down the canal towpath like a pisshead.  Noo-Noo only wanted to see wot vuh fumbs did just vah once voh. She dint like it, she said. She dint like what vuh fumbs did to vuh shit tree and she said she want havin it. So, after vat, whenever we saw a fumb makin his way to vuh shit tree, we stopt em. Weed frow stones and clumps of mud and grass and weed shout and jump up and down and swear and everyfin we could fink of, basically, to get em to leave vuh shit tree alone and fuck off again. It was great. Noo-Noo said vat vuh King and vuh Queen of vuh Canal were standing up for one veir loyal subjects.  

But it dint really stop em. Vuh fumbs just came back after we ‘d gone. An it dint really help us to find out what it was vat vuh fumbs were doing in duh first place beyond vuh stabbin and vuh kissin and vuh pluggin full ov shit.  

Was Noo-Noo who got bored vuh quickest with driving off vuh fumbs. Was Noo-Noo who said we had to have a closer look at what it was vey were doin. I want havin it. I said she could fuck off. I said it want possible. Vuh smell was too bad. I said if we got close vuh stink would burn off are eyebrows. Noo-Noo told me to stop being such a pussy. She said if vuh fumbs could do it we could do it. Which kindof stopt me in mi tracks. Cos she were right. If vey could do it, we could do it. Noo-Noo had vat nailed. I cunt see a way to argue wiv her. Sayin all vat voh: Noo-Noo wanted to just march down to vuh shit tree vere and ven an I said we had to fink about it and have a plan or summat. Noo-Noo said what was vere to fink about? I told her. We had to be a bit clever about it. If we were gonna spend a bit of time down vere by vuh shit tree we should try and prepare ourselves. Noo-Noo got all arsey at vis point. What do you mean? she said with her fat black arms crossed about her big bazoomas. I dint really know what I meant when I said prepare ourselves but I said some’ing about vuh stink. If we have to go into vuh stink, I said, we should try and block up our noses. Some’ing in Noo-Noo’s eyes flashed and she said, Like highwaymen!  Which put a picture in mi mind of vuh two of us chargin down vee embankment wiv red handkerchiefs coverin our gobs and I said yeah. But it was more like Yeah!  Ven Noo-Noo had anuvva idea vat was even better van her first idea. She said she remembered somefin sheed learned at school about vuh black def or vuh great plague or one of vose kind of fings. She said vat priests and gentry – whatever vey were – protected veir mouvfes by coverin em wiv handkerchiefs soaked in somefin vat smells strong like perfume or vinegar. Noo-Noo sayin vat felt like more maths again. Soaking a handkerchief in vinegar to stop us smelling vuh shit felt like a two plus two plus two plus two idea.  

In vee end voh I cunt get a handkerchief. Mi mam said it were vuh wrong time ov vuh year or some’ing. I want really listenin. In vee end I had to half-inch a tea towel from out vuh drawer. Noo-Noo robbed a muslin square vat she said her mum was usin with vuh new baby. As weed agreed, I brought along some vinegar and Noo-Noo ‘d brought along some perfume. When we met we had ourselves a little speriment to determine which of vuh smells we could stomach. Vuh strange fing was vat vuh smell of vinegar was better van vuh smell of vuh perfume cos it made us both fink about fish an chips. Dint half make our stomachs rumble voh even voh it was only somefin like half ten in vuh mornin.  Long story short voh: we soaked vuh tea towel and vuh muslin square in vinegar and ven we each helped vee uvva to tie vuh mask on. We lookt proper spanners and duh vinegar dint half make our eyes water at first but – standing up vere on vee embankment – we lookt at each uvva an we were boaf of us finkin: its now or never.

I was down vuh canal on mee own. I can’t say as I know why I was on mi own but if I was on mi own it was probly cos Noo-Noo’s dad was playing up and locking Noo-Noo in her room again which is wot he did most of vuh time cos he was mental and muslim and all vuh rest of it.

I do know what it was I was doing voh.

I was snipin.

Snipin was one of me most favrit of games. What you did if you was playin snipin was: get down on vuh ground and drag yourself around like as if your legs were dead or gone or summat. Snipin was best after vuh rain had rained cos ven all vuh ground was wet. Snipin was vuh best when you had to snipe froo vuh mud. You knew youd had a good snipe when yr cloves was reekin at vuh end of vuh day. You had to get down on vuh ground and narrow your eyes and pretend like you had a rifle or some’ing and you were movin to some better vantage point cos you had to tek someone out. When I say tek someone out I mean killem. Snipin was all about killin. 

So. I was snipin. I was up on vee embankment and I was eyeing vuh canal vis way and vat way when I saw vuh fumb making his way down vuh path tward me. Vuh fumb was a sad looking cunt, no mistake. He lookt old to me and he walkt like he was carryin vuh wait ov vuh world on his back. I dint fink all vat much of him. I lookt at him and I fought about whevver he could be mi target or not – mi snipin target, I mean – but vat was all. I was finking about what I was doing and so I dint fink too much about vuh fumb, leastways till he dropped down onto his knees in front of vuh shit tree. He dropt down to his knees, right – and I tell you I can see vis clear as day – shit squeezed out from under his knees the way toofpaste squeezes out the end of vuh toof paste choob. But the shit dint seem to bovver him or anyfin.

Stopt me in my tracks voh, I’ll tell you. You dont see someone drop to veir knees in a pile ov shit every day now, do you? I forgot snipin quicksmart. I forgot snipin an I was all eyes. Vis next bit, fink of me like I was a big, bulgin eye. No arms or legs and no head and no nuffin. Just a eye watchin a fumb. Okay?

Vuh fumb reached into his pocket and took out a piece of wood about so big by so big. Vee eye vat I was fought ay up. What’s he gonna do wiv a piece of wood? What he did was vis: he unfolded a knife – and duh knife was about vuh same lenf as duh piece of wood which I now understood to be vuh handle of duh knife. Vuh fumb took duh knife and he started sticking it in vuh trunk of vuh shit tree. It was well psycho. He was stickin duh knife in vuh tree like vuh tree was someone vat he really fuckin hated bad. Was well weird. Dint end vere voh. Soon as he was finished stickin duh knife in, he let his hand fall and he let duh knife go, duh way you would if youd just forgotten what it was you were doin. Duh knife dropt to vuh ground just behind him but he dint even look at it. He had his hands up, both of em, and vey were checking out vee hole what heed made in vuh shit tree. Was ven vat I started feelin all sortof proprietorial tward vuh shit tree cos – I fought ven – who was vis fucker comin along and stickin his knife in our shit tree?

I dint get too far wiv vat fought cos den he did what I fought was vuh weirdest fing yet: vuh fumb put his mouf to vee hole in vuh shit tree. Vere I  was, lyin vere up on vee embankment watchin vis dolly cunt stab vuh shit tree an make an nole and ven he put his mouf to vee ole and I tell you I dint know what vuh fuck to make of it, I dint honestly. For a minute I fought he was eating duh bark and ven I fought maybe he ‘d made a mouth in vuh trunk wiv his knife sose he could kiss vuh tree and ven I just stared wiv mi mouf open and mi eyes wide cos I dint get it, I just dint get it at all. Vuh fumb had his mouf up against vuh tree and his eyes closed and he held vuh trunk duh way youd hold up a trophy if you was a football champion or somefin. He stayed like vat voh, on his knees wiv his mouf pressed up against vee hole heed made for about five minutes. I cunt take mi eyes offof him. I cunt, honest. Vere came a point voh when he lowered one of his hands into vuh shit at duh foot ov vuh tree and he plunged his hand in and took up a good handful of vuh wet dog shit and – for one horrible fuckin minute I fought he was gonna smear it over his face or eat it or somefin. But he dint. He had vis handful of wet dogshit and he brought it up to dee hole an at vuh last minute he jerked his head away and filled vee hole wiv vuh shit. He held vee hand vat ‘d brought vuh shit up over vee hole and he lowered his uvver hand and plunged vat in shit and he brought up annuva handful of shit and he plastered vat over vee hole and he lowered his first hand again back into vuh shit and so it went on until heed got shit all over vuh trunk of vuh tree and all over his hands and all over his coat and his trousers and his face. Vuh fumb was totally covered in shit. Was fuckin horrible.

When vee hole was covered, voh, vuh fumb – who looked a sight by vis point – got to his feet some’ow and sortof drunkenly wandered off. He looked like mi dad after mi dad ‘d had a night on vuh sauce.

And me? I just lay vere watching him go, wonderin what duh fuck it was I’d just caught an eye full of.

Part 1 Vere ‘s zis tree down by vuh canal and vuh tree was full of shit. When I say shit I don’t mean actual shit I mean shit what people ‘d froan away. Shit like irons and kettles vat dint work no more. Shit like fuckin bubble wrap and what do you call it, polyfene. Vere were vese long polyfene choobs sortof hanging over some of vuh lower branches. Noo-Noo said dey lookt like elbow length gloves left behind after some swanky party or summat but I fought vey lookt more like arms what had been chopped off. Someone had even tossed an old bike frame into vuh tree and from where weed sit you’d fink vuh bike ‘d burrowed its way in, deep.  

Vere ‘s other shit too, shit I dint see at first, shit what Noo-Noo had to point out to me. Vuh bloody mice frinstance. Not vat vere were bloody mice in vuh tree. Bloody mice is just what Noo-Noo called em. Vere were bits of cotton with tails, bits of cotton what had been soaked in blood, lookt like. When youd seen em once you cunt miss em. Noo-Noo said vat vuh bloody mice lived inside of my mum and my mum flung em out once a month and veyd all scurry down to vuh shit tree cos vey were glad to be out of my mum but Ide just tell her to shut up. Shut up Noo-Noo, Ide say. Vat usually did vuh trick.  Anuvva why vuh shit tree was callt vuh shit tree – all vuh dogs vat get walked down by vuh canal liked to do veir business in among vee exposed roots at vuh foot of vuh shit tree. Noo-Noo reckoned dat it wus duh smell. Vuh shit tree stunk. Noo-Noo reckoned vat duh dogs got a whiff of vuh shit tree and nen ney cunt help emselves, dey had to go. And – dis is Noo-Noo as well – cos dogs are essentially clean and decent and polite creatures, dey go where duh other dogs have been so as not to make vuh mess any worse. If people were like dogs, Noo-Noo ‘d say some’imes when she ‘s off on one, dee whole world would be a much better place.  

Vuh shit tree really did smell bad. It want just vuh shit. Vere ‘s another smell underneath vuh shit. Sometimes I used to fink it ‘s vuh bloody mice mixing with vuh shit but uvver times I fought it were somefin else. Vuh smell was so bad. Like a fire. You know when you walk twards a fire and you can only get so close cos of vuh heat and vuh smoke and you have to lift your arm up and cover your eyes to stop vuh fire and vuh smoke from making you sick or burning your eyebrows off or somefin. Vuh shit tree was a bit like nat. All vose people walking veir dogs had to stand off by vee edge of vuh canal while vuh dogs did veir business. Even me and Noo-Noo cunt get close. Whenever we tried we always had to stop cos vuh smell made us wanna gip.  Even saying everyfin what Ive said voh I still fought vat vuh shit tree was sort of magical. I know how gay vat sounds. But. So many days vat summer before vuh last year of school me and Noo-Noo and sometimes Scarfy and Doughnut but mostly me and Noo-Noo played down by vuh canal and whatever we were doing vere were always times when Ide look down at vuh tree from up on vee embankment and see vuh shit tree for what it really was. What it really was was magic. Me and Noo-Noo ‘d sit vere an squint an say what we could see like in vat quiz show mi gran liked to watch. Ide squint and say summat like about how vuh bloody mice were in fact candles, candles like what youd find on vuh King of Noway’s Christmas tree. An Noo-Noo ‘d squint and say vat vuh polyfene choobs were like some kind of alien tinsel. Or duh bubble wrap was angel hair. Or vuh bike was a sort of clunky, mechanical Father Christmas. Weed go on for hours some’imes. If we stayed late enough, vuh cars from duh motorway gave us fairy lights. Its probably hard for you to see or even fink about but vere were definitely times when vuh shit tree was beautiful. Beautiful and magic.  

And we weren’t alone in finking what we fought.  Apart from duh people who walked veir dogs we dint really see anyone else down vuh canal. Vat was one of vuh reasons why it was so great down dere. Was our kingdom. Me and Noo-Noo were vuh King and Queen of vuh Canal. We did what we liked and want no-one around to say oy or stop it or leave off or anyfin. We did as we liked. Even after duh summer was over if we bunked offof school we’d be down vuh canal fucking about. Vuh canal was like our second home or summat. Was a place we could go to to get away from whatever else was happening. Cos it was just duh two of us voh or vuh free of us sometimes if Scarfy was along or vuh four of us if duh Doughnut man was around and cos we knew vuh lay of vuh land anyone else who loitered stuck out like what mi mam would call a sore fumb.  

Which is why, when we started seeing sore fumbs all vuh time, it became like vuh most important fing vat had ever happened in vuh history of time. I say vuh most important fing. We’re pretty stupid, me and Noo-Noo. We’re pretty stupid cos it took us ages to do vuh maths. You know what I mean when I say vuh maths dont you? Two an two an two an two. Stuff you add up to work summat owt. When I say it took me an Noo-Noo ages to do vuh maths I mean vat it took us ages to put everyfin togevver. We started seeing sore fumbs every day. We’d be in vuh middle of some’ing and Noo-Noo’d say, Fumb. She’d say Fumb, I’d say Where? and she’d say Vere! like as if I was stupid. Or sometimes I’d say Fumb and she’d say Where? and I’d say Vere! like as if it was her what was stupid and not me. We took it in turns, mostly. We’d see vuh fumb and we’d stop what we were doing and we’d watch for as long as it took vuh fumb to passus by and ven weed get back to doing what it was weed been doing before vuh fumb came along.  I cant say as why we dint follow any of em. I dont spose we fought vere was anyfin more to it van sore fumbs walking by. We just dint is vee only answer I have to give you.  

Summat happened voh – summat what I’ll tell you about in a minute right, if you just old your horses a bit – and after vuh summat happened, me and Noo-Noo talked about all vuh fumbs and we boaf of us fought vere ‘d been more to vuh fumbs all along, we just dint fink to mention it to one anuvva, you know? After vuh summat happened, it was obvious wot all vuh fumbs were doing. But until vuh summat it want obvious. If you follow me.  Anyway. Vuh summat wot happened was vis: