Carol was born in Kent, moving to Nottingham in 1984. Her previous
jobs have ranged from civil servant, play group helper and jewellery
She began writing as a teenager but stopped when employment and family
commitments took priority.
Five years ago Carol began writing again. Currently writing short
stories and researching background for a future historical novel.
She is an active member of Nottingham Writers’ Club. Married with
Writer's Work - Goose Fair Past
Youll mind your temper wont you, Johnny? Annies
Its Goose Fair Mam, everyone has a lark, theres
Annie didnt try to argue with her brother, hed call her
a lazy slattern and heap further abuse on her. She was grateful when
he slammed the door behind him, leaving them alone.
Outside, the shouts of Johns friends echoed around the claustrophobic
yard, its tall black walls, broken windows and filth underfoot.
Brewing the last of the tea Annie handed her mother the cracked cup;
one remaining possession from their former life before her father
had been shot during a riot over exorbitant food prices.
Youll keep watch oer your father, wont you
Annie? They get wild when theyve had their ale, start breaking
Yes Mam, Ill see that he doesnt get in trouble.
She stuffed her few coins in her pocket, tapping her hip to ensure
her money was secure. Im going now Mam, you stay here
until I get back.
As she entered the Market Square she saw the glorified market. There
were a few jugglers and acrobats to entertain, but its only purpose
was money. Trade. When you didnt have money the delight disappeared.
Turning, she saw Bill Coppins, smiling at her.
I havent seen you for a time. Did old Mrs Finch throw
you out finally?
Bill Coppins had been her hope for a better life, until last year.
1800 had been bad, poor harvests, high prices and discontent. Nottingham
men were always willing to start a riot, and this had been cause enough.
Mrs Finch only kept me on because I could turn a fine stitch,
but then my mother needed me.
You mean your brother needed you.
Im older and can shoulder the responsibility.
They both turned toward a pack of young men, whod drunk too
much ale and were intent on mischief. Bill stepped in front of Annie,
blocking her view.
What are you doing with that cow-faced bitch, Billy? You dont
want to spend time with her, youll get lumbered with that mam
of hers, shes weak in the head.
Stick yer head under a pump, windbag! Bill shouted back.
Laughing, the group lumbered off, sniggering, jabbing one another
and singing off-key.
And your mam?
She thinks my brother is my father. She doesnt know whats
happening out here, shes still living in the past. Searching
around her other pocket she pulled out a clean piece of rag, wiped
her eyes and quickly stuffed it back, patting her pocket.
Ive got nothing to do, so let me be your escort.
He gave an exaggerated bow, smiling at the feminine giggle it caused.
I think such a pretty lady as you are is not safe by herself,
allow me to protect you. He laughed, then bowed again.
They wandered around the stalls, handcarts and panniers. Stopping
to watch a Harlequin juggle lighted torches until raised voices distracted
You want how much? This fish isnt fit to feed my cat.
Around them a crowd began gathering. Bill took Annies sack in
one hand and pulled her through the converging mob. He drew her away
from the Square into a side street.
You should get home, theres going to be trouble.
It wont cause a riot. Annie thought Bill was being
Lets just say I heard some things earlier, when I was
having a drop of ale. You better be gone before they call out the
soldiers. Theres no saying how many will get hurt.
Annie resisted his pushing. What about John? I promised Mam
Id watch him.
Handing her the sack he pushed her away. Ill find your
brother and bring him home.
Reluctantly she moved. Mind yourself Bill, please.
Ill be careful, you go now, quickly.
Back at home Annie reassured her mother then stowed the provisions,
more than shed expected to bring back. Bill had got extra by
He was a carpenter and there were always little jobs needing a woodman.
She suspected hed promised to do extra jobs in return for increasing
If things had been different he might have courted her, wanted her
for a wife. What man wanted a family who would cost him time and money?
She was twenty-six, a spinster and likely to remain so for the rest
of her days.
The sudden knock on the door startled her. Opening it she saw Bill
supporting her brother, one arm held across Bills shoulder was
slack. Johns feet were trailing behind. He was only upright
because of Bill.
Is he hurt? Are you hurt?
Its just drink. I found him in a corner asleep. He missed
the soldiers by a few minutes. There was trouble but it broke up quick
enough, no one was sho
He glanced toward the older woman
Put him over there. She pointed to the dark corner where
a straw pallet lay on the floor.
This is bad, you shouldnt be here.
Its all we can afford now its just the three of
Im a basic man Annie, I dont ask for much in life,
but Ive always wanted a wife who I could respect. Im not
much of a catch but if you want a husband, Id be very happy
if youd marry me.
The momentary delight quickly faded. What about my mother and
John? I cant just leave them.
Well, Im planning to move out of the city. Country air
might do your mam good. John will have less chance to get drunk. So
what do you say?
Glancing at her mother she saw a faint smile on the face watching
her. Turning to Bill she stood on tiptoe and pressed a light kiss
to his cheek. Yes.