Today I am one of the stops on the blog blitz for Thalidomide Kid by Kate Rigby. I will be sharing an extract from the novel. And if you live in the UK, there is a giveaway going on!
Daryl Wainwright is the quirky youngest child of a large family of petty thieves and criminals who calls himself ‘Thalidomide Kid’.
Celia Burkett is the new girl at the local primary school, and the daughter of the deputy head at the local comprehensive where she is bound the following September. With few friends, Celia soon becomes fascinated by ‘the boy with no arms’.
The story of a blossoming romance and sexual awakening between a lonely girl and a disabled boy, and their struggle against adversity and prejudice as they pass from primary to secondary school in 1970s Cirencester. The story deals with themes and issues that are timeless.
This is an excerpt where Celia overhears a conversation about ‘the boy with no arms’. Celia is still at primary school and her father, deputy head of ‘the big school’ has invited the head Miss Bond, for a meal.
“Should we retire to the snug?” Dad said, when second helpings had long been demolished; a cue for the girls to clear away the plates and help Mum with the dishes. Celia and Abby took out the sherry glasses first, sipping the bits left at the bottom. They knew which was Miss Bond’s glass by the pink shade of her lipstick.
By the time they’d done the dishes and their mother had seen to the coffees in the best Prinknash cups, the conversation had switched again. Dad, in one of the armchairs, was relighting his pipe, the blackened match nearly burning his fingers in its dying flare, while Miss Bond was holding forth on the studio couch, the tail end of which was about a fourth year boy from Upper Churnside who was always truanting and up to no good, even when he did attend school.
“Let’s be blunt …” Miss Bond continued, her glasses on the end of a chain and her plump knees pointing to one side. “They’re a family of juvenile delinquents and congenital liars.”
Mrs Burkett, after offering the coffees, sat at the other end of the studio couch. Abby took the other armchair, leaving Celia with the milking stool one of the boys had made in woodwork at Dad’s old school in Accrington. She sat on it against the wall and pulled out one of her old Buntys that had somehow found its way into the magazine rack, having decided that it was OK to flick through her comic in this situation, seeing as the grown-ups were talking about stuff which wasn’t strictly for her ears. In this situation, discretion was a good strategy, she decided, and tried to lose herself in the pictures of fictional schoolgirls, some with pudding-basin haircuts like her own.
“It’s not surprising,” Miss Bond went on. “The father’s in and out of prison and a couple of the older ones have been sent to borstal.” She looked at their father over her slanted glasses. “Even the younger ones are at it. There’s one, only about ten years old.”
Celia noticed how this Bunty had lost its new smell, that hot off-the-press smell it had when the instalments were all eagerly waiting to be read.
“A Thalidomide,” said Miss Bond. “So he gets away with a lot of mischief because of his handicap. Apparently he was caught stealing and was sent home with little more than a slap on the wrist, except he hasn’t a wrist to slap, of course. Maybe he wants to prove to his family that he can be like them, though I think it’s more a case of them exploiting his handicap. He’d be about Celia’s age.”
Miss Bond glanced over at Celia who’d become enthralled by the story unfolding outside the confines of her comic. It must be him that Miss Bond was talking about. The boy with no arms.
“I think he goes to her school,” continued Miss Bond. “The mother had a fight to let him go there, I believe, instead of the physically handicapped place. Of course, we’ll be presented with the same dilemma next year, though we pride ourselves on our progressive policies towards the integration of the handicapped at Cirencester High. A mark of any civilized society, don’t you think?”
The conversation gradually moved on again to the fourth year parents’ evening and PTAs and school governors, and Celia drifted off, glowing on dregs of sherry and thinking of May and June with their severed legs and the handicapped boy with hair the colour of a doll’s. Lovely, unspoilt hair.
About the Author:
Kate Rigby was born near Liverpool and now lives in the south west of England. She’s been writing for nearly forty years. She has been traditionally published, small press published and indie published.
She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so she decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was first published in 2010 and has since been updated.
However she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka!(2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s magazines.
Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).
Her novel Savage To Savvy was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) Quarter-Finalist in 2012.
She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories, in an erotic anthology published by Pfoxmoor Publishing and more recently in an anthology of Awkward Sexcapades by Beating Windward Press.
She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now re-Kindled as Did You Whisper Back?).
She has re-Kindled her backlist and is gradually getting her titles (back) into paperback.
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