Can you look at something and remember a story from long ago, or a certain place, sound, or person?
This picture is one of mine. A necklace, a brooch, and a cigarette case. They are part of my ever-changing story time capsule. The magicality is never-ending.
My latest project has led me back in time to my family’s heritage and so far it has been thoroughly enjoyable. Admittedly, researching a piece is one of my favourite elements of writing. I like to write about the things that have shaped our lives, whether they be happy or sad, but most of all I believe it’s important to know where we come from.
In the previous post is an excerpt from Cormorano. This is set in wartime Liverpool and based on my Nanna’s life as a young girl. Her family moved from Picinisco to Liverpool and settled in the Little Italy area of the city. Like many grandparents do, she told me stories from the war that changed the way I think about the world. Going through that at such a young age is unimaginable to me but I want to try my best to tell the story of where she grew up and what it was like to live through the war years.
Cormorano is the latest piece I am working on. As do many other writers, I draw upon past experiences, family history, and images to create a story. This piece is set in war time Liverpool but with a twist. It focuses on the Little Italy area of the city and on the protagonist Joseph Ventre. My grandmother grew up in this area and time so there are stories a plenty. Below is an excerpt of the piece. Please read, enjoy, and try to figure out the title
‘The siren wails just after nine o’clock. I jump up and Mam is already pulling her shawl around her shoulders. The sound pierces the air, filling my body with dread and fear. I try to find my way to the door in the pitch black, pulling my jumper on and taking my gas mask from its box. I tie the laces on my shoes; one has got a hole in the heel. Mam stops dead and holds a finger up in the air.
‘Listen.’ I turn my ear to the window. ‘Can you hear the planes?’ She stays quiet. They’re coming all right. God knows how many there is tonight. Mam grabs a bag she has ready in case of an air raid. As we leave the house, Uncle Fran runs down the street to get us. I know Mam feels safer when he’s around. He’s tall like Dad was, well built too. He hides his messy black hair under a hat; sometimes I think he sleeps in it. The siren becomes louder as we reach the end of the street. A fire bobby turns the handle at the top of the siren tower, shouting at the crowds to wear their masks. In the distance the sky is a mixture of deep orange and black. They’ve started bombing the docks again and I pray that the Cormorano make it till morning. It’s a few minutes walk to the nearest shelter. I strap my mask tight onto my head. Every breath I take is shorter than the last. Babies are screaming, mothers are scared; the men lead the way onto Scotland Road. I don’t know how everyone’s going to fit inside the shelter. Panicking, I reach for Mam’s hand and follow Uncle Fran across the pitch black cobbled streets. Up ahead, seven planes fly lower than normal, lined up perfectly. They’re heading our way. The noise rips through my ears. I feel the vibration in my chest. People are shouting, ‘Quick, get the kids inside!’ ‘Pass me the baby!’ ‘Oh God, this is it, hurry up!’’