Saturday 18 June 2022

Debut Flash: 'Northern Soul' by Helen Maire Kennedy

Northern Soul was the beat of our childhood. The house spun to the sound of Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I love you?’ My brother Anthony, the spin and slider, coins jangling in his pocket as he backdropped to the floor.

You let me walk with you to the bus stop, off out to an all-nighter at Wigan Casino. Through the pasty bus window you raised your clenched fist. ‘Keep the faith,’ you mouthed at me.

I always wanted to be you. I slept in your bed until you crept in with me the following morning, all damp and energised. On my tenth birthday you gave me my first vinyl, ‘Nowhere to run to,’ by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and you taught me to drop. Sometimes I take it out and run my fingers across the grooves.

In 1974 you danced off to join the army, two tours of Northern Ireland. When you came home on leave, your tattooed arms hanging out of the bedroom window smoking, like you didn’t want to be in the house, and you didn’t put on a record.

Wigan Casino burned down in 1981 and a girl came to the house, said she’d had your baby. Ma shut the door in her face. You got dressed up in your flare flapping Oxford bags, a bowling shirt, Solatio shoes, kissed my forehead. I didn’t think you’d leave without your record collection. You knew how to handle a gun, but that wasn’t your style. I played the old favourites, ‘Ordinary Joe’ by Terry Callier, ‘They’re out to get you,’ by The Fascinations. Soul survivors.

Sometimes families can lose someone and move on in a beat.

Years later, high on acid in the Hacienda, I watch a boy backdrop, spin and slide and wonder why you danced away.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Well done! I have a friend who is now over 60 and still goes to Northern Soul nights. He was a regular at Wigan Casino. You capture the era perfectly.


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