After Billy Elliot – June Portlock

stabs through the early morning air.
Low voices;
someone makes a ‘Maggie’ joke.
Laughter again.

Feet shuffle scraping against the tarmac
finding a better, warmer spot
around an old oil can that serves as a brazier.

Rattling cough;
spittle flies hissing into the fire.
‘Fuck this!’ says the tall one,
‘Anybody got a tab?’

Then heads lift.
A dim thrum. Traffic?

Over there, over the crest of the hill
over where they can’t be seen,
And they come.
Grunting rumble of reluctant engines,
shriek of brakes.

The blue black line stamps froward
shoving into the howling mass.
Batons hammer their own beat
seeking and finding arms, shoulders, heads.

Bricks and stones reply, on and over the turret
of helmets, smashing through windows
thumping into the body of the bus.

Sirens sing a different song.

Only then:


I first met Julia on the writing course – ‘A Woman’s Art is Never Done’ run by Gateshead Library. She ran the course seamlessly, as though we were all girls together just having fun with words and yet we achieved so much.
‘After Billy Elliot’ isn’t about Julia but it would never have existed had I not attended the course all those years ago.

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