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Found on the shores of The West Midlands. The Coventry Conch tells the tale of a young girl's experience growing up in Coventry in the 1990's.

Sunday 28 April 2019


I need to get a job. Nanny Pam hasn’t put the rates up for helping out on the car-boot since I was eight, and I can’t live off a fiver a month forever.

My cousin's mate, Michele, works pot washing in the local pub and said I could take one of her shifts on Saturday night. I guess it’s because she’s got a new boyfriend and needs extra time for dry humping him outside Happy Shopper.

On Fridays I sometimes go around Nanny Pam’s for tea after school. She’s a pretty bad cook, but she has two TV’s, which means I don’t have to fight with anyone over what I want to watch. Nanny Pam usually watches the same as me anyway: Neighbours, Home and Away, Emmerdale, EastEnders, Coronation Street and The Bill. In that order.

I watch the end of Blue Peter while I wait for Neighbours to come on. Some kid's getting a badge for tap dancing with his pet dog at an old people’s home.

Nanny Pam shouts from the kitchen,

‘I’m making scrambled egg on potato waffles tonight love, with a Marie Rose sauce.’

You’d think no-one could mess that up, but you haven’t met Nanny Pam. She brings our little trays into the living room with dinner on. The waffles look alright, but on top is a chopped up hard boiled egg with a grey yolk, covered in a mixture of mayo and ketchup which people call Marie Rose, so it sounds like it’s not just mayo and ketchup.

Nanny Pam starts tucking in, ‘Ooooffff these scrambled eggs are deeevine!’

‘Erm, this isn’t scrambled egg Nan’

‘Yes, it is’

‘It’s a chopped up boiled egg.’

‘Yeah, making it scrambled, scrambled egg!’

‘No, it’s a hard boiled egg, that’s been chopped up, scrambled egg is…Oh don’t worry, thanks, Nan’

Neighbours starts, and it ended on a real cliff-hanger yesterday; I’m not missing out on Susan finding out about Dr. Karl’s affair to teach Nanny Pam how to be Gary bloody Rhodes!

After tea (and Susan going absolutely ape shit), I use Nanny Pam’s phone to ring the number Michele gave me for the pub. I speak to the manager who says I can come in for an interview tomorrow.

I put the phone down and tell Nanny Pam about the interview,

‘An interview to wash up? For God’s sake, even Bonnie can wash up!’

I think about Nanny Pam letting her fat old Yorkshire Terrier, Bonnie, lick all the food off the dishes before Nanny Pam puts them in the dishwasher. I like animals, but I think even Michaela Strachan would struggle with Bonnie. She’s proper narky, and smells so bad that once, when Dad was mega hungover, he threw up when she waddled into the living room.

Nanny Pam bought Bonnie before Grandad had an affair with the lady who works in 8tilLate, and they got divorced. Apparently, one night just before she kicked him out, Nanny Pam left Bonnie's  dog food on the kitchen side, and when Grandad got home drunk from The Saracens Head he ate the lot thinking it was left-over lamb hotpot. Nanny Pam still laughs her head off a bit too much when she tells that story. 

When I get home that night, I start preparing for the interview in my bedroom that I share with Jenny, who’s lying on the top bunk listening to her Discman and eating a packet of Tomato Snaps. I lay my jeans, t-shirt and Kappa tracksuit top out on the floor in a person shape to see if it works as an outfit. Jenny looks down at me from the top bunk and pulls an earphone out. I can hear Radiohead quietly being miserable.

‘It’s just washing up, Hol!’

I ignore her and route around under the bed for my Record of Achievement that the teachers have been banging on about at school. It’s a fake leather folder, where you put all your awards in and that. My form tutor said we could take it to interviews. I pull it out and Jenny pipes up again, ‘I don’t think they’re gonna be interested in your cycling proficiency certificate and ten metre swimming badge!’

She’s probably right, but I don’t say anything. Anyway, I think she's just jealous because I'll be getting on the career ladder before her.

‘You know Mikey Fitzpatrick's the manager there now. Didn’t he get kicked out of school for lighting farts in the Geography huts?’

I feel sick. Mikey was one of the popular lads in year ten at my school when I was a massive loser in year seven. On my first week of seniors I fell up the stairs and one of my shoes fell off. Mikey was behind me and he nicked it until the end of the day. To make things worse my daft old form tutor bollocked me for wearing incorrect uniform when I hobbled into afternoon registration.

Mikey’s wearing a baggy short sleeved blue shirt, tucked into even baggier black trousers and has something crusty and yellow on his massive purple tie that reaches all the way down to his half done up fly. I don’t think he recognises me and I decide not to remind him of how we know each other.

He picks up a manky piece of paper off a desk that has half a pint of flat Tango and a massive calculator on it.  Then he swallows a burp and starts reading out questions on the paper like a reception kid in a Nativity play.

‘Why...do...you...think...you...are...the...best..can..dee…date for...this...role?’

‘I wash up at home sometimes and I know how to use the dishwasher at my nan’s. ‘

‘Can you give an example of when you’ve been a team player?’

‘I’m not very good at sport.’

‘How do you handle stressful situations?’

I think about when I get stressed out at home...I lie on the floor put Oasis* on, and stare at the ceiling, but Mikey might not be an Oasis fan so instead I say,

‘Erm, I just try not to get stressed about stuff and that.’

‘Can you give me an example of where you have delivered excellent customer service.’

‘Erm, yeah, well erm, at my Nan’s car-boot once this woman lost her dog, and I tried to help her find it.’

‘Did you find it?’


‘Do you have any questions?’

I think, Yeah, do you have egg or English mustard on your tie?


‘Okay, we’ll let you know later, you know the way out right?.’


I get up and walk to the office door, pull it to open, then pull again, and again, and again, then realise it’s a push.

Mikey rang back in the afternoon. I didn’t get the job. I get dead upset for some reason and walk up the garden to be on my own. I sit on my little brother, Josh’s, Space Hopper next to my dead cat’s grave and think about how tragic my life is until I start crying

 Jenny comes out, squeezes inside Josh’s red plastic car on the garden path, and wheels up to me.

I say to her through sobs, ‘Even Bonnie can wash up!’

Jenny says through the car windscreen, ‘That pub stinks of farts anyway, and Mikey looks like he’s fallen out of someone’s arse these days! Totally not worth missing Gladiators for!’

I think she’s right and that Mikey probably had Coronation Chicken on his tie, because I remember seeing it on the menu.

*Ok M People too, but that’s only because Oasis is really scratched.
**It’s not that scratched.

Sunday 27 January 2019


Tasha rang up this morning and asked if I wanted to go up town with her. I really can’t be arsed, but I need to get Jenny a birthday present, and there’s nothing decent on telly until Big Break, so I tell her I’ll meet her outside Maccy D's at one.

To be honest, I’ve been avoiding Tash a bit lately, since she started nicking stuff again. I don’t know why she bothers, her parents are loaded, they've got three bogs! AND she’s been to Orlando, Florida......twice!!!

Loads of people seem to be on the rob at the moment. The boys in my class have got a competition over who can steal the biggest thing from JJB Sports. Apparently, Gareth nicked a golf club last weekend, while he was out shopping with his nan. Nobody’s actually seen the golf club yet though, and, when someone accused him of lying, he said, ‘Ask my Nan’, which is what everyone says when they’re lying, ‘Ask my Nan…Ask My mum…Ask my Uncle’. One day I’m actually going to ask them:

‘Hi, Gareth’s Nan. Gareth told us that he stole a golf club from JJB sports last weekend, and I thought I’d just pop round to see if that’s true?’

‘Oh, hi Kevin’s mum. Kev said you once farted so badly that you made the dog throw up, and I just wanted to check it really was that bad?’

‘Are you Sara’s Uncle? Sara and me are in the same class. She said I could confirm with you, that you’re sooo hard, you just head butt the vending machine to get a Crunchie out instead of using the correct change?.’ *

When I told Mum that I was going into town, she told me to look in her purse for some money, but there were only coppers and a torn-up lottery ticket. It’s the end of the month which means Mum and Dad are SKINT!! It’s fine though because we’ll be minted again soon. Like when Dad got paid last month, we had Perfect Pizza three days in a row, and he bought Mum a box of Terry’s All Gold (she gave me one and it was bloody heaven).

I don’t want to tell Mum that she doesn’t have any money left, so I decide to break into the £6.27 savings from my money box. It’s the one where the skeleton grabs the coins with his bony hand and then drags them back into his coffin. I really wanted it when I was like eight years old, but like everything else that’s cool, I get it when Nanny Pam finds one at the car boot…five years later!

Tasha’s always late and I’m always early, which means I usually have to stand around looking like a Billy No Mates for half an hour, so when I get to Maccy’s I decide to get myself a Happy Meal and sit inside for a bit. I stack up my three pounds and one pee change on the table next to my four empty pots of BBQ sauce while looking at Ronalds big cheesey grin on the empty Happy Meal box.

When Tasha eventually arrives, we walk around the shops together while she lists all the things that have pissed her off this week ‘…So, Mum was like you asked for the hamsters, you clean them, and I was like yeah, but I didn’t know they live for fucking eternity!...and my Dad can fuck off! He’s always buying the stuff that Jason likes, he knows I hate Rib ‘n’ Saucy... Nice ‘n’ Spicy are obviously the best...But golden boy Jason likes them so…and I swear our next-door neighbour’s a pervert, I was out in my dressing gown yesterday cleaning dogshit off my trainer and he was like, ‘morning’ but not like ‘morning’ it was more like ‘mooorrrrning…’

In Claire’s Accessories, I see a necklace for Jenny with a Yin Yang on it, she’s well into world peace and stuff at the moment, so I think she’ll like it. It’s £3.99 though, so I put it back on the hook. All the other cheaper stuff is naff as, and I feel like a knob for splashing out on a Maccy’s like I’d won the bloody pools or something.

I look over at Tasha, she’s rolled her sleeve up and is filling her arm up with a neon rainbow of shag band bracelets. Then she pulls her sleeve back over them and walks out of the shop. I shuffle after her, nearly knocking down a whole cat themed earring display on my way out.

When we get around the corner, Tasha starts laughing her head off. I AM SHITTING IT, and I’m not sure if I can taste BBQ sauce or sick at the back of my throat.

Tasha clenches her fists and puts them in front of me.

‘Pick one’

I touch the right; it’s got nothing in it, then she opens the left and lets the Yin Yang necklace I was looking at fall between her fingers. She starts laughing again and says, ‘You can have it’.

When I get home, I run upstairs and put the necklace in my money box, then I put the money box in the back of the cupboard and cover it with an old school jumper. Then, I spend a while looking at the criminal in my bedroom mirror. I can feel sweat running down my armpits and think that Sure should make a deodorant especially for people like me: 24 hour protection…from the law!

Grandad’s come round for tea. I give him a half-arsed hug and sit down next to him at the table. I know he’s in the mood for a chat, but I just stare at the greasy juice pouring out of my chicken Kiev.

‘You got a boyfriend yet love? … You want to get a shifty on. My sister’s a spinster like you, never settled down, no sprogs... travelled the world... think she’s on a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean now... you don’t want to end up like her!.’

Mum pipes up from the kitchen, ‘She’s fourteen Dad, and I wouldn’t mind being on a cruise ship with no sprogs, like that Jane McDonald.’

‘Now that’s a woman! I wouldn’t mind being on the captain’s table with her, if you know what I mean.’


I say I’m feeling sea sick and go upstairs.

I lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling for a bit. Dad did this mad effect on it with paint a few years ago, where he got a comb and made all these swirls, and I follow them with my eyes when I need to calm down sometimes.

After a bit there’s a knock on the door, and Grandad comes in.

‘Your mum sent me up to apologise.’

 Grandad looks at the Oasis poster on my wall.

‘That Ian Gallagher wants a bloody haircut’.

I start crying.

‘Oh god, sorry love, I’m sure he’s alright really. You know I just want you to find someone who will look after you, buy you a nice Barrat’s home on Bannerbrook Park, that sort of thing’

I tell Grandad that I won’t need a house when I’m in prison. Then tell him all about my shopping trip.

‘So, you’re an accessory to the crime. That doesn’t look good love. My mate Tel went down for less. All the poor bastard did was go to sleep in the wrong house after a night on the sauce. And the thing is, he always sleeps bollock naked….and a lot of men use the kitchen sink to take a leak in the night…and a cat could kick in a front door on that estate. Anyway, the fourth time he did it, he got six months.

‘I’m sure you’ll be fine though, sweetheart, but If you do get nicked…just say,  ‘no comment’ to everything, in a different accent if you can. And if you ever get pulled over on your way back from the boozer, chew a whole pack of Juicy Fruit before you step out of the car, that stuff's potent and always keep a bottle of sober piss in the boot, you never know when you’re going to need it…’

I ask Grandad if I should go and give the necklace back somehow.

‘No love, I wouldn’t go back in that shop for a while and look on the bright side you've just saved yourself £3.99!’

*To be fair Sara’s uncle is meant to be absolute nails, ask my dad

Sunday 11 March 2018



I’m skiving round Nanny Pam’s today.  I thought I had a tummy bug this morning but it turned out to be a false alarm, and I’d just had too much Sunny D round Amy’s last night. Mum had to go to college, so she dropped me at Nanny Pam’s. On the way round she made me sit on a bin bag in the car just in case.

Nanny Pam and me are watching This Morning; there’s a woman on talking about how she's been cheating on her husband with a ghost.  The TV presenter asks if she has ever been intimate with the ghost. Nanny Pam stares at the TV while her Rich Tea biscuit breaks off into her coffee.

The phone rings, I look at Nanny Pam, without taking her eyes off the telly she says, ‘Be a love and get that will yer.’

I answer the phone but before I even say hello, I can hear Nanny Pam’s friend Maeve shouting her mouth off, as usual.

‘Are you watching that woman on This Morning, Pam? Dirty Cow! Fancy cheating on her husband with a ghost. At least when my Mick had an affair I could go round and smack her one, but that poor bastard doesn’t stand a chance against a ghost.…’

‘Maeve…MAEVE! It’s not Nan, it’s Holly!’

‘Oh hello Holly love. Did you see that woman on This Morning? Dirty Cow! Fancy cheating on her husband with a ghost…’

Nanny Pam shouts from the living room, ‘Who is it?’

I say, ‘It’s Maeve.’

Maeve says, ‘Is that Pam?’

I say, ‘Yeah’.

‘Ask her if she’s coming to bums and tums later?’

‘Nan, are you coming to bums and tums later?’

Nanny Pam says, ‘Is Sheila going?’

I say, ‘Is Sheila going?’

Maeve says she thinks so.

Nanny Pam eventually comes to the phone, but not before Maeve tells me one of her daft stories about how her friend Maxine’s dog has learnt how to start a fire.

While Nanny Pam’s on the phone to Maeve I sit down next to her and pick up the BT Phone Book from the shelf for something to look at. It’s next to a rank photo of me from a couple of years ago when I was holding three of Nanny Pam’s guinea pigs at once. I’m looking dead chuffed with myself even though I’m wearing Nanny Pam’s brown Tesco fleece. Sometimes I think that my biggest fear of being murdered is Nanny Pam dragging this photo out for Midlands Today News.

Nanny Pam and Maeve start talking about the woman on This Morning.

‘She says they have, but it feels really cold, like a Calippo, so they don’t do it that often.’

I look through the pages of the phone book while Nanny Pam gasses on to Maeve. First I find Amy’s number, which is dead sad because I know it off by heart anyway, then I find Aunty Mandy’s and then I do something really sad and look for Tom’s! I’ve started to fancy him even more now that he’s started to use gel in his hair.

I know Tom’s Dad’s name is Geoff so I narrow it down to three possible G.Stevensons. I think about writing them down and prank calling them at the weekend with Amy. When I think about it a bit more though, I decide that it would be a pretty tragic thing to do. I put the phonebook back on the shelf and pick up the Avon catalogue next to it, to cheer myself up a bit with the smelly pages.

Nanny Pam starts up her usual chat with Maeve about who has died this week.

‘…and Anne’s brother in law.’

‘Yeah, and Chip Shop Pete’s Mum…yeah it exploded apparently.’

’Eighty-six, but still that’s no way to go.’

‘Oh and remember Barry from ‘The Bell’, you know the one who stank of cheese and onion crisps! ... Yeah two weeks they said, and he only went in with a broken toe.’

‘And I haven’t seen Margaret across the way for two days now, and she did say she was having some tests done. You haven’t seen her down the club have yer? ...’

‘Well how strange … I don’t know what tests, but she didn’t look too bright the last time I saw her.’

I rub the Avon catalogue against my neck, to try on the ‘Pearls and Lace’ perfume sample. From the window in Nanny Pam’s porch I see Margaret pull up on her drive, I nudge Nanny Pam, but she shrugs me off and keeps talking.

‘I suppose they’ll have to sell Margaret’s house then, I wonder what they’ll get for it, she hasn’t put a conservatory on like us.’

I watch Margaret unload the Asda shopping bags from her car, and let her cat in the house.

Nanny Pam eventually says to Maeve, ‘Ta ra then love, yeah I’ll let you know about Margaret, but it doesn’t look good does it…’

‘Are you going to bums and tums?...No I don’t think I will either then.’