It is a cardboard box.

Dusty and slightly squashed, A4 in size, rescued from my parents’ loft.

I open it carefully and slightly apprehensively, as it comes from the past. The smell of old, dusty papers wafts up, released into the fresh Norfolk air for the first time for almost two decades.

Postcards. Newspaper cuttings and cartoons. A photograph of a Canadian diesel-electric locomotive. I leaf through each, transfixed.

A ticket stub: the Richard Thompson Band at the London Palladium. A torn-off scrap of paper featuring the shakily-written address of a girl with whom I’d once briefly been associated, and who was universally known amongst my friends as ‘the Sad Nympho’. A Reliant bonnet badge. An old train ticket to London Liverpool Street. An invitation to a Finnish Independence Day party in Blean, Kent.

And what I’d been looking for.

Lots and lots of stuff about Steerpike.

To be continued.

19 Comments

  1. He remembers me.

    Sob.

  2. They get up to a lot and strange things in Blean….but nothing compared to Boughton-Under-Blean…

  3. Don’t remind me of Steerpike!

    Sob.

  4. I never called you ‘The Sad Nympho’, The Sad Nympho. No.

  5. Lots and lots of stuff about Steerpike? Say on! (I was mildly obsessed with Fuchsia for several years, but never Steerpike – except perhaps as a guide for career success, and even in that context I think the example is equivocal.)

  6. Steerpike the Gormenghast character or Steerpike the Gay Bondage magazine with all the young chaps wearing leather biker caps and not much else on the cover? Given the furtive nature of your attic (and Attic) fumbling, I’m beginning to hope you reconsider that “to be continued” thing…

  7. My friend Pete’s mum was Finnish and they lived in Ashford which is about half an hour from Blean. Small world.

  8. I’m intrigued, Could I have the address though, she has probably had a daughter or two by now :p

    (although the fiancée would not approve!0

  9. Ivan knows a bit too much about Steerpike possibilities for comfort. Am starting a small file on Ivan which originally would have contained a single leaf with, “possibly mad” on, but now…

    … also admin-jonny type, you should know better than to retrieve boxes of this type. A) parents rarely want them back and then you’re stuck, B) those memories are almost always best without corroborative evidence to remind you you were neither as cool as you thought nor as successful on the pull.

  10. What’s a Steerpike? Is it one of those fairground operatives who make the waltzer go around? Why are you looking for lots of stuff about these people? Who are the Richard Thompson Band? Who is Richard Thompson? Why does he have a band? Why doesn’t he change his name to something more dynamic and Google-friendly? What is this nympho’s address so I can actually have some sex?

  11. Nothing like a Finnish Independence Day party – in Kent!

  12. I also saw Richard and Linda Thompson in Chatham in 1979. Uncanny.

  13. Do you have anything on the two slightly crazy sisters who lived in the tree?

    I liked the two slightly crazy sisters who lived in the tree. And I liked the idea of their tree growing out of the side of Gormenghast.

  14. That takes me back to English classes – slightly mad teacher who had a thing for Fuchsia

    Is there such thing as a ‘Sad’ nympho??

  15. Steerpike! Gormenghast doesn’t seem to be well-known here in the US – didn’t realize it was so popular with you lot. That’s it then, I’m moving. First the chocolate, now this. I was born in the wrong place.

  16. Meanwhile – off topic – I just picked up a book – it was to hand – and read the last page. My memory isn’t great and yet again I was completely taken in by the first paragraph and thinking that poor woman.
    Of course the woman was you writing b—-y brilliantly in ‘You’re not the only one.’
    sometimes I think we – I – don’t really appreciate you.

  17. Oh – er – golly thanks Pat!!!

    I had meant to write the Steerpike thing today, but had to do some work instead. Honestly, it is like literal slavery here.

    I will as soon as I can. But I cannot help but be gobsmacked that you are all thinking of the lesser known Steerpike – the character in Mervyn Peake.

  18. “possibly mad”, Megan? I’ll grant you that – but also, I hope, “mostly harmless”…

  19. Are you going to save all this for the Toddler?

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