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Lorna Hoey: A New Year’s Tale

December 31, 2010

Some of you may not have read this story before and as it seems timely, I’m blogging it again. It was written in response to a request in The Times newspaper for readers to write about a memorable New Year in his or her life. This was the one that they printed (and yes, it all really happened).

(Their title) A New Year’s Eve that went off with a bang: Lorna Hoey recounts an eventful trip to the shops in Belfast on New Year’s Eve 1971.

I had forgotten to buy the crisps. Sigh. Pulled my coat on again and set off down the avenue. A cold wind was whistling as an RUC constable stepped towards me.

‘The road’s closed.’

‘I just need to get some crisps.’

‘No. There’s a bomb.’ I stared at him. ‘Disposal’s on the way,’ he said, ‘ but if I were you I would run.’ I was jerking backwards away from him when a voice spoke at my elbow.

‘Excuse me love, is there a bomb, did he say?’ An elderly woman, arms drooping with shopping, stood beside me.

‘Yes.’ I looked at her hopelessly. ‘Here, give me your bags, it’ll be faster.’

Immediately the avenue was ten miles long. Each step took an hour. At the top of the hill she stopped completely. ‘Hold on a wee minute. Need to rest.’

I marched ahead, heart thumping. I could have been safe at home long ago. At a bend in the road she stopped again.

‘This is me now love. Thanks very much. Happy New Year.’

I handed over the bags. ‘ Happy New Year.’

As her door closed I leapt away. Dashing into the flat I yanked the curtains over the window criss-crossed with Sellotape and stood poised, breathless. Nothing happened. The bomb disposal people had got there in time, obviously. I parted the curtains to look.

The blast must have blown me clean across the room because when I opened my eyes I was lying behind the couch. I don’t remember a bang, just the icy cold draught as the wind tried to rip the remaining shards of glass and pieces of tape from the window frame. For a moment I wondered why I was wearing my coat. Then I remembered.

And we still didn’t have any crisps.

Lorna Hoey: Printed in The Times 31 December 2009

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2011 4:38 pm

    Lorna, I’m going to buy you some crisps – any flavour you like! That was an amazing story, in many different ways.

    • Lorna permalink
      January 3, 2011 12:04 pm

      Ready Salted then, please. Thanks for such a positive comment.

  2. January 2, 2011 4:42 pm

    What a fantastic story – the tension as the old woman crawls along and you are desperate to hurry her up is almost unbearable. I just love your stories, Lorna. More, please.

    • Lorna permalink
      January 3, 2011 12:06 pm

      Thank you for commenting on the tension in this piece – I am trying to work on building tension and ‘getting the timing right’ in my stories and your comment was very useful.

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