A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Based on a genuine memory of mine, a wet summer's day in childhood.



There was a mushy mess running through Bernie’s grey-black mind, a mess that was focussed every so often by a PING that seemed to rock his world to its very core.


Once, he knew, there was such a thing as light. It illuminated stuff. It drew the attention to things … but what the stuff or the things might be he was lost to even start to understand.

If it hadn’t been for the regular beating of the PING he would, he knew, have gone mad.

If only he knew what mad actually was.

Slowly everything, even the regular PING… PING… PING… swirled into a state of near silence, like tinnitus heard through a sponge.

And then he discovered light!

Not real light, of course, but a light inside his head, an illumination that shone on things he might have known and might have done, once upon a time, and they comforted him.

He was in the shed.

The shed was in the garden, the same garden that he’d known as a child, a wooden affair with a single dusty window and a few gardening tools leaning propped up against one wall, with jars of this and that on a shelf, and cobwebs here and there.

He was with his brother.

Had he really got a brother, or was this part of the confusing mush that dominated most of his life these days?

He was eight years old. At least, it felt that he was eight years old. He was in his best clothes. Yes, back then, in the post-war years of austerity, he had worn his best clothes most of the time because last year’s clothes, last year’s grey shorts and grey shirt and grey socks were tatty, too tatty to wear for the Sunday School Outing. And that’s what he was in the garden shed for, waiting for the time to walk to the Sunday School and be taken on an Outing.

His and Barry, his brother. His younger brother. He looked younger, didn’t he? And being younger he usually inherited Bernie’s outgrown clothes, those that were fit to be inherited.

Mum was a widow.

He remembered the day she had told him that his father was dead, and in all honesty he hadn’t properly understood what she meant by dead. He got the impression that he wouldn’t ever come back, but he hadn’t seen much of him anyway.

But it had meant that mum was a widow and widows had a struggle on their hands if they were going to keep up with the Joneses. Ah, those Joneses. They lived across the road in an identical house to their own council house, but it didn’t look identical because they weren’t widows. They were two ladies, sisters he thought, who both went to an office to do mysterious things like shorthand and typing and who both earned enough money for the garden to look nice, the curtains to have frills and the coalman to deliver sacks of coal ever so often, more often than most people had deliveries of coal.

Mum would love to have kept up with the Joneses, but she complained nearly every day that she’d never do it.

If you scuff your knees like that and I have to buy bandages for them when they’re bleeding I’ll never have enough money to keep up with the Joneses, she’d complain.

He hardly ever scuffed his knees after that, and neither did Barry.

And they were in the shed waiting.

Waiting for the rain to stop.

There won’t be a bus to take us on the Sunday School outing if it’s raining, complained Barry.

And he knew there wouldn’t be.

Maybe we could make magic, he had suggested, being the oldest and consequently the wisest and most intelligent. At least, that’s what he thought he was. The most intelligent.

What magic? asked Barry with a sneer in his voice. Barry couldn’t half sneer. He did it quite often and once or twice he, Bernie, had to beat him up because of it. Nobody likes being sneered at, especially when the sneerer is your younger brother. Younger by a little bit more than a year. Dad had been alive back then, to give mum whatever it was she needed from him for Barry to come along.

He’d been eight back then and hadn’t known and the sod of it was he didn’t know now. There were holes in his world and they were filled with a stuff called forgetfullness.

But the light was still shining on that old wooden shed and he could hear the pattering rain cascading on its asbestos roof.

Didn’t he know, somewhere, that asbestos was dangerous stuff? How could it be dangerous if shed roofs were made of it? It just didn’t make sense!

Then he heard himself speaking. He had a good, clear voice, a sweet innocent treble that could sing if he had to, as well as speak with the wisdom of angels.

We could recite magic, he said to Barry. You know, a spell to send the rain away…

Barry looked at him scornfully and it was good for him that he kept to scorn and didn’t sneer. He might have received a bloody nose if he’d sneered.

There’s no such thing, said Barry instead of sneering. Magic’s for little kids. It isn’t real, Bernie, you must know that seeing as you’re older than me…

Then he, Bernie, cast a spell.

Rain, rain, go away and come again another day! he chanted, and repeated it in his loud, clear angelic voice, rain, rain go away and come again another day…

And did the rain go away?

He couldn’t see out of the window, to see if the rain had stopped, that grubby window in the shed, because Barry was standing on a rickety stool and weeing out of it. He had found a broken corner of window where there wasn’t any glass, and somehow managed to aim his jet of urine straight out into the world of rain and misery. He could see him quite clearly, Barry with one leg of his shorts hitched high enough for him to wee without wetting them.

That’s dirty, he told him, being the elder and consequently the one most likely to judge.

I needed a wee and there are puddles everywhere outside, said Barry, grinning as he leapt off the rickety stool.


Bernie! Barry! it’s time to go! called mum from the kitchen door, already dressed in her overcoat and hat.

And somehow they went. Somewhere. The light in his head dimmed down and he couldn’t see what happened next. But they were leaping over puddles as they ran out of the wooden shed, him and his brother Barry.

You might think of waking up, Mr Walpole, said a sudden voice from outside his head, the sweetest of voices that filled the whole void that was everything with the kind of music he knew that he loved.

He fought against his eyelids. He needed to open his eyes and see the angel who was talking to him, but nothing happened.

Instead the shed finally flickered out of being, taking Barry with it, and he was in a muffled kingdom of barely audible tinnitus and the grey shadows of a lightless dawn.

© Peter Rogerson 25.04.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on April 25, 2018
Last Updated on April 27, 2018
Tags: shed, scunday school outing, raining, brother, spells


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..