The Grimethorpe Colliery Banned

by James

The adjustment centre was a Victorian seafront building set over four floors, with turrets at the roof wheeled by seagulls. Nana Rachel drove fourteen-year-old Glenn and marched him up the steps. She practically threw him into reception. Everyone there was nice at least. They took him to a room, gave him a cup of water, and then brought in his case worker.

Mary was only a few years older than him, wearing tight jeans and a top that wrapped itself around a gravity defying chest. She took the seat the other side of the small table and read through his case notes. He watched her face carefully, looking for any signs of discomfort or disgust.

Mary laid down the case file on the table. She smiled at Glenn.

Mary said, ‘I think you wanted to be caught.’

Glenn said, ‘How do you work that out?’

Mary said, ‘You went in the music room with another boy. You weren’t exactly subtle about what you were up to. I’m told the noise was like elephants mating.’

Glenn said, ‘We got carried away. How is that a crime? You must have, surely? Been with someone, finally able to be yourself at last, and then it doesn’t matter what happens, what anyone might say. You just go for it, because there’s nothing more important than that moment.’

Mary slapped the table with both hands.

‘Think about your parents! Think how hard this must be on them. They are good, jazz loving people. I’m told your house is open plan, done up like a twenties jazz bar. Do you really want to hurt them?’

Glenn closed his eyes. The guilt that had bubbled deep inside since it happened was clawing at his throat. The way Dad Colin had fainted when he heard what happened, and even Dad Jace, though he was the strong and silent type, the look on his face.

Glenn sipped from his water to calm himself, to stop him having to answer.

‘This kind of thing is a poison,’ Mary said. ‘An insidious prowler that creeps through the minds of young men and guides them down the wrong path. You have a choice, Glenn, between the path that is decent and honourable. Normal. Or down the path that is-‘

Glenn hurled his paper cup at the window and shot back his chair. He stood so fast that his thighs jostled the table. Mary flinched back in shock. Glenn bit back his scream, and then through gritted teeth he spoke.

‘It’s not a choice. It’s something you’re born with.’

He took a deep breath, and then, for the first time in his life spoke the words he had buried for so long.

‘My name is Glenn, and yes, I was caught in the music room playing Abide with me on a soprano trumpet. But I don’t like jazz. I find it repetitive, with no sense of rhythm or tonal structure.’

Glenn stood a little straight and put a clenched fist across his chest.

‘What I love is a British style brass band. Go to hell, Glen bloody Miller, Louis Armstrong, and all the rest. When I go to bed at night it’s the Reg Vardy Band or Grimethorpe Colliery I hear in my head.’