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June 2003
Writer - Carol Bevitt
Carol Bevitt - Writer
Carol Bevitt - Writer
Carol began writing as a teenager. She is currently writing short stories and researching background for a future historical novel.
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Writer profile
Carol was born in Kent, moving to Nottingham in 1984. Her previous jobs have ranged from civil servant, play group helper and jewellery maker.

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 four children.

Writer's Work - Goose Fair Past
‘You’ll mind your temper won’t you, Johnny?’ Annie’s mother trembled.

‘It’s Goose Fair Mam, everyone has a lark, there’s no harm.’

Annie didn’t try to argue with her brother, he’d 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 John’s 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.

‘You’ll keep watch o’er your father, won’t you Annie? They get wild when they’ve had their ale, start breaking up…’

‘Yes Mam, I’ll see that he doesn’t get in trouble.’ She stuffed her few coins in her pocket, tapping her hip to ensure her money was secure. ‘I’m 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 didn’t have money the delight disappeared.

‘Annie?’

Turning, she saw Bill Coppins, smiling at her.

‘I haven’t 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.’

‘I’m older and can shoulder the responsibility.’

‘Oy, Billy!’

They both turned toward a pack of young men, who’d 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 don’t want to spend time with her, you’ll get lumbered with that mam of hers, she’s 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 doesn’t know what’s happening out here, she’s 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.

‘I’ve 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 them.

‘You want how much? This fish isn’t fit to feed my cat.’

Around them a crowd began gathering. Bill took Annie’s 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, there’s going to be trouble.’

‘It won’t cause a riot.’ Annie thought Bill was being over cautious.

‘Let’s 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. There’s no saying how many will get hurt.’

Annie resisted his pushing. ‘What about John? I promised Mam I’d watch him.’

Handing her the sack he pushed her away. ‘I’ll find your brother and bring him home.’

Reluctantly she moved. ‘Mind yourself Bill, please.’

‘I’ll be careful, you go now, quickly.’

Back at home Annie reassured her mother then stowed the provisions, more than she’d expected to bring back. Bill had got extra by wits.

He was a carpenter and there were always little jobs needing a woodman. She suspected he’d promised to do extra jobs in return for increasing her provisions.

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 Bill’s shoulder was slack. John’s feet were trailing behind. He was only upright because of Bill.

‘Is he hurt? Are you hurt?’

‘It’s 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 watching anxiously.

‘Put him over there.’ She pointed to the dark corner where a straw pallet lay on the floor.

‘This is bad, you shouldn’t be here.’

‘It’s all we can afford now it’s just the three of us.’

‘I’m a basic man Annie, I don’t ask for much in life, but I’ve always wanted a wife who I could respect. I’m not much of a catch but if you want a husband, I’d be very happy if you’d marry me.’

The momentary delight quickly faded. ‘What about my mother and John? I can’t just leave them.’

‘Well, I’m 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.’
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