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I confessI must have been about seven when the Ds moved in next door. This was in the 50s, when children were sent out to play. So we – my brothers and I – could spend hours spying on them with no reprimand.Mr D was quiet, and, frankly, boring. But Mrs D – she was the entertainer. Not in the traditional sense. Rather she would scream and shout and go a delicious pink whenever anything went wrong. A lot went wrong in her corner of the street.I believe my brothers had the idea to move the gnomes in her garden, though they blame me. In any event, it was easy to slip through the front gate, take the fishing-gnome from his perch close to the hedge and hide him under a rose bush. The gnome-with-the- toadstool we moved to the middle of the path. In all, we moved six gnomes. Then we hid and waited. Our reward:an explosion of tears and foot- stamping that had us helpless with laughter.We knew the Ds came from Poland, which made sense of the accents. But the numbers tattooed on their arms, the hint that somehow explained their childlessness – nobody talked about that. Nobody unearthed the words to tell us why we should be kinder. I was 17, taking ‘A’ level history, when I found out. My tongue tied in adolescent guilt.My own children had not long started school when I had a solicitor’s letter saying that Mrs D had died, leaving my brothers and me £500 each in her will.In my reply I mentioned her kindness, her tolerance of the rough-and-tumble from next door. But even then I couldn’t find a way to say I was sorry.JO CARROLL spent 30 years working in Child Protection before travelling round the world for a year. On her return, and with support from a mentor, she wrote her book Over the Hill and Far Away. She now travels every winter and writes e-books and short stories when at home. submit your creative non- fiction confession (up to 300 words) see p80SEXIST SELECTION The Windsor Fringe Festival has been criticised for being sexist after declining a director’s application because she is a woman. Olorunfemi Fagunwa received an email saying she had not been chosen to direct as part of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing because ‘the committee and the play’s writer have agreed that a male director would be better for this play’. Fagunwa, writer of Super Skinny Bitches, one of the Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Angelic Tales, posted a screenshot of the email on social media.In response, Head of Drama Awards Ann Trewartha, the sender of the email, issued a joint statement with festival chairman Dr Mike Denny to.... Short Story Heroes continuedbleak situation is illuminated in dazzling prose. ‘Pete had brought a basket of jams, but they were in glass jars, so not allowed.They were arranged in color from the brightest marmalade to cloudberry to fig, as if they contained urine tests of an increasingly ill person.’Moore hints at Pete’s discontent. The mother, whois unnamed, has let herself go: ‘She went out into the world like an Amish woman... “To me you always look so beautiful,” Pete no longer said.’Pete, who is ‘a kind of stepfather to her son’, has not been to visit him recently. The boy, also never named, senses Pete’s distance. The only other clue to Pete’s disposition is this chilling sentence: ‘Unlike some of her meaner friends, who kept warning her, she believed there was a deep good side of him and she was always patient for it’.apologise for the contents ofthe email, claiming it was the result of ‘poor communication and lack of judgement’, butnot a reflection of the selection process. Kenneth Branagh has called for the application process to be re-examined.FRENEMY FILMS Why domen keep making films focused on conflict and hysteria in relationships between women? Recent examples are David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, and now Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth and Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, but Guardian critic Steve Rose draws a connection back as far as cinema’s ‘golden age’ of the 1930s to 1950s,and the rise of films made for women. These productions centred on hysteria, domestic confinement and other torments male characters of the timedid not face. But do these films reflect real women’s lives or relationships? Sophie Mayer, author of Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema, argues that they present ‘fantasies of women’, preserving the patriarchy byNot until the final scenedo Pete and the mother talk about the deeper problem of their relationship. But they are disrupted by a ringing telephone and a caller who hangs up. The mother, who’s decided to bring her son home from hospital, asks Pete to help, intimating that they might live together. But Pete decides he’s had enough. When the phone rings again,the mother checks the caller ID. ‘Someone is calling here from your apartment,’ she says to Pete. Is it an accusation? A wish? He hurries away.Later we learn that, perhaps out of self-preservation, she ‘invented the part about its being Pete’s number... though he made it the truth anyway. The plastic panel where the numbers should show was clouded, as if by a scrim, a page of onionskin over the onion – or rather over a picture of an onion.’ ❐showing ‘that women together will destroy one another’. In contrast, critic Miriam Bale suggests that the genre depicts the complexities of friendships between women that are not always acknowledged in real life. Either way, these films suggest that emotions and complex friendships are reserved for women, while male-centric films are confined to ‘bromances’ such as The Hangover.PLATH ADAPTATION Kirsten Dunst will be directing a film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar due to begin shootingin early 2017. Dunst co-wrote the script with Nellie Kim.This is not her first foray into writing: she was also the writer and co-writer respectively of two short films, Welcome and Bastard, which she also directed. Michael Nordine of Indie Wire has pointed out that the project seems to echo one of Dunst’s earlier projects, Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, ‘another literary adaptation about young, unreachable lost souls.’EMILY OWENS‘her terrible ear for languages made everything that was not English sound very, well, mimsy’MARGARET WILKINSON is a prose, stage and radio writer. Her short stories have been widely published and her radio playshave beenbroadcaston BBCRadio 4. Sheis a SeniorLectureron the MAin CreativeWriting atNewcastleUniversity.WHAT'S NEWSCRIPT70 Sep/Oct/Nov 2016 mslexia

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