The Family Of Noise
The Family Of Noise
The Family Of Noise is the story of Dylan Thomas Owen and his perilous journey to adulthood through the 1970s and 1980s.
As Dylan navigates his way through the world, he falls in love with words, music and a Swedish pop princess but with his only soulmate being his idiosyncratic grandfather, lessons in love from adults of questionable maturity prove to be confusing when it comes to finding the real thing.
The Family of Noise is a coming of age story about a dreamer looking for love in all the wrong places, with his head in the sky and his feet nowhere near the ground.
272 Pages • Softback • ISBN: 978-0-244-10495-5
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An extract from the chapter CHAIN OF FOOLS:
Did you ever have one of those days when you did something you knew was wrong before you even did it, but carried right along and did it anyway?
At the end of the street, there lived a girl called Joanne. As I remember her now, she appeared to be made of ether. I don’t think she was sick or dying but she weighed nothing at all. She was so thin, sometimes you couldn’t see her – particularly if she was standing next to you at a slightly obscure angle. She went to my school but I can’t recall actually seeing her more than half a dozen times.
On this day of doing something wrong when I thought I was doing something right, I happened to have stopped outside of her house on my bicycle to put the chain back on its cogs. Recently, it had been jumping off a lot. It was something that needed fixing but it was easier to repeatedly put it back on than to ask for any help over it. If I could go back in time, maybe I would hear the universe talking to me so that it didn’t have to shout at me later, but I still wouldn’t have listened.
She was standing in her garden. I guess I must have come in from the right direction to see her as I did. She looked so delicate. If the wind had picked up a little, I swear it would have blown her away like a dandelion seed. She was almost transparent in her delicateness.
– What are you doing?
She spoke this much like you would expect to be addressed by a confused ghost in a Victorian novel.
– Just putting the chain back on my bike here.
I looked up at her, wiping my now black fingers on the road to at least remove some of the oil, but she wasn’t listening to me. Not really.
She announced and sat down on the grass as if the singular word had exhausted her and began plucking at the daisies. She couldn’t look more wiped-out if somebody had injected her with morphine. I returned to my attempts at fixing my own problem and finally, the cogs caught hold of the links and pulled the chain smoothly back into place.
Home was only a few hundred meters away and I was back in less than a minute. I put the bike away in the shed and hadn't been in the house for too long when there came a knock at the door. Nobody ever came to knock for me, so I ignored it until it dawned on me I was the only one in the house and was persuaded by the persistence of the rapping on the wood.
There was nobody there. I stepped out to see if whoever it was might be running away – it’s not like I had never done that myself – but still, not a soul in sight. I turned to go back inside and bumped right into Joanne who was now, or maybe always had been, waiting patiently on the door-step. She was holding her hands out in front of her.
– Chain. I’ve made you a chain because yours is broken.
In her hands was an overlong string of daisies almost as fragile as she. I took it carefully from her hands.
– Thank you.
What else was there to say?
– Now you must give me something.
– Now you must give me something. That’s how it works.
I pursed my lips and gave the request some thought.
– If you wait in your garden for me, I’ll bring something along shortly for you.
This appeared to be acceptable and she nodded. Just the once before turning and walking away – or at least I think she did. I closed the door and hoped it hadn’t been in her face.
I placed the daisy chain down in the fruit bowl in the kitchen and went about the very important business of constructing a bacon sandwich for lunch. As the strips sizzled under the grill, I tried to think of anything but the exchange that had been demanded in return for the daisies.
Annoyingly, as I was covering the bacon in pepper and wrapping it in bread, I found myself chewing over exactly that.
Until the answer came to me. I would trade the chain for another chain. As I was alone in the house, I licked the plate clean, washed up after myself and ran upstairs, straight to my mothers jewellery box.
It was an old box. She had owned it for as long as I can remember and probably an awful lot longer too. It was of the type that when you opened the lid, a ballerina would rise up from the centre and, if the key beneath the box had wound it up, pirouette to a tune provided by a hidden music box beneath the jewellery trays.
The box itself was full of trinkets and junk. There were charms for a charm bracelet, the bracelet itself, small infant teeth, rings, a few coins long since replaced by decimalisation and the remains of a keyring. That was the top layer. I lifted out the tray to rummage beneath and found what I was looking for. I sunk my fist in and picked up all of the necklaces to be found there and dumped them on the bed to untangle them.
I had never seen my mother wear any of these items. She wouldn’t miss one. Of this I was certain. I chose a long chain with a tear-shaped diamond type pendant hanging from it. I dropped all of the others back where I had found them and put the ballerina to sleep.
Now I was faced with the embarrassment of actually handing it over. What if somebody saw me and thought I was making moves? I didn’t know what making moves were but had seen that this was how ‘things’ normally began on television. I decided to take my bike with me. I could be home in the blink of an eye if it all went wrong.
I found Joanne sitting in her garden exactly as I had suggested. She was holding onto the trunk of a cherry blossom tree. She was positively translucent as she anchored herself to the ground. I leaned my bike up against the low wall of the garden and could swear I saw both of her feet off the ground as I walked towards her bearing my gift. She turned to face me without letting go of the tree and I held the necklace out for her to see.
– It’s pretty. Put it on me.
So I did - exactly as I had seen men do on TV. It wasn’t such a bad experience. The way she studied it carefully as she let go of the tree and looked down at either the necklace or her feet (maybe both) even made me smile.
– Yes. It’s lovely.
She proclaimed and wandered off in some kind of dubious rapture.
That wasn’t what I expected at all. That wasn’t what happened on TV after you placed a necklace around a girl’s neck. Then I remembered what did happen on those occasions and thought myself lucky.
Still feeling somehow cheated by the anti-climax, I returned home and flopped out on my bed to read. Eventually, my parents came home and the remainder of the afternoon passed without incident. Until that is, Joanne’s mother arrived at the door with a necklace in her hand. I listened through the crack in the door to her mother talking to my mother, whereby that feeling in your stomach - the one that feels like you drank a bathful of sea water - began to settle in.
Shortly, rubber bullets were fired from The Angry Gun but the shock of what I had done was so extreme, so beyond comprehension, that bullet flying was pretty much all that did happen. Oddly, my stepfather smiled at me later that evening and handed over my pocket money without putting me through the ‘double or quits’ coin toss game we had to go through every week. Not a word was spoken about the necklace by him - which meant only one thing.
It must have been a gift from my father.
For my part, I did feel a little bad about my theft but the matter was still unfinished. I needed to take back the chain she had given to me. I kind of liked Joanne and didn’t want any necklace debt to sweep her away. Thus, with the evening upon us, I announced I was going out for ten minutes.
Armed with the daisy chain, I almost knocked on her door but figured that would be rather foolish under the circumstances, so I simply left it on her doorstep with two large pebbles I had taken from the flower bed beneath the cherry tree.
Then, from my pocket I took out the note I had scrawled before I left and placed it beneath one of the stones:
“Put these in each of your pockets. Please don’t blow away.”