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The Crack Magazine

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The Stirrings by Catherine Taylor

As Catherine Taylor grows up a bogeyman stalks the streets of the North, in this particular case, though, the bogeyman is real. Prosaically, not a Jason or Michael Myers, but a lorry driver from Bradford with a hatred of women - and, in some ways, maybe not so different from one’s dads, brothers, uncles or any other man. It’s this context that informs The Stirrings (Coming of Age in a Northern Time), and only adds to the discomfort of growing up different at an age when similarity and sameness is best. It’s better not to stick out in England, if you do, and whether that’s down to your skin colour, parents or haircut, you will be mocked, teased or even ‘sent to Coventry’. Catherine Taylor writes about these childhood challenges and teenage differences so well you can feel the sweat gather as you’re reminded of your own early adolescence in the seventies and eighties. The one constant in her life, her indefatigable mum, who’s consistently there supporting her as she navigates her way to early adulthood, where, “allegedly, the possibilities were endless. Or they would have been if we weren’t all going to die in a nuclear inferno”. Thatcher’s love of the politics of division and nuclear weapons something worth protesting against, a difference with others now worth defining and developing, and bollocks to the mockers, teasers and the one-way trip to Coventry (Coventry had Two Tone now, so big deal). The Stirrings is a great memoir, I loved every page. Would it be cheeky to ask for The Stirrings part two? Probably, but cheeky or not, I’d love to read it.

The Stirrings – Catherine Taylor - publ. Weidenfeld & Nicolson - £9.99

Steven Long

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