4. Belfast Simon Community 1978 - I am taken into the office
By Ray Schaufeld
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The clean-cut English guy who carried my case and my heavy bag up two flights of stairs was Adrian Clift. He was 23 - the average age for us lot. He was also the only one of us to heave completed a University degree.
After doing his his group show-off bit for the mums and dads in his hired for the day Mortatboard and black gown he had worked for a year in Egypt with Voluntary Services Overseas. He had a violin with him but I never got round to asking him to play any tunes for me and I only recall working one shift with him, where he sat out in the garden perrling apples for our communal apple crumble dessert. It was ten in the morning. He lit up a cig and said 'firtst one of the day'
He told me he was from an Army family. He was very commonsense, neat and helpful.
Looking back, I think he might have been a cop. If so he was a good one and he did not take advantage of his position amongst us.
I now entered the small, not very brightly lit Office and took a seat. Intition moment - I was now a Worker not a Resident. We do have to have our little class distinctions don't we.
There was a Free Noreen Winchester poster on the wall but I was too wiped out to notice it and had not heard about her at the time time.*
I was too wiped out that evening to absorb much about the three other co-workers who were sat in the room.
Kate Leary, a tall moon faced American girl with giongery hair a bit below her shoulder and a big bottem stood out the most. She was seated on the floor as the office only had three chairs. She wore jeans like the rest of us with the addition of cowboy boots. She seemed serious, present and yet detached.
Her brother Syeve who was dressed in similar clobber and wore a check shirt was also seated on the floor. They had real old cowboy drawls and were from a small town called Newry that was somewhere in the wild West of America. It was settlers from Newry In Northern Ireland who had put their name on the place and they were on a work your way back to your roots and travel trip,
Finally, seated in a chair but less present as he was mentally elsewhere, no boubt chasing women who were not his divorced wife Pat sat Philip Stanley. He had trendy layed hair and worse his jeans with a charity shop waistcoat. His skin had an olive tint and he had a cool Scouse accent.
Phil was twenty-five and of course he was the handsome villain that I hopped into bed with three weeks later when our days off collided for a night. He was a well experienced twenty five. Add another twnty five years of the same onto him and he would be the Tv double of Frank Gallagher the ne'er do well boozy Dad of the hardscrabble family sitcom Shameless.!!
I topped my jeans with a secondhand Chinese silk jacket that I had bought the year before uni in London's Portobello Road Market.
So here I was, every inch the equally trendy young student girl raring to get fired fired in and help the single homeless folks of Belfast.
We didn't take in families with children or single children. Just as well -we were pretty much still in our prams ourselves.
And right now I was getting on for midnight and this young pumpkin was ready for bed.
* Noreen Winchester who was she.
I assumed throughtout my stay, because of her picture on the poster and her first name that she was a young IRA woman. Three years later, back at Stirling Uni and now in my final year, I read in Spare Rib magazine that when she was 16 she stabbed her father to death because he raped her. I assume it was not an isolated incident and her killing him was premeditated but who can blame her.
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I liked all your details very
I liked all your details very much in this one, too - you are so good at describing people in a sentence. The apple peeling in the garden was a great contrast with the poster about the rape victim
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