Published: 01/09/2012
ISBN: 9780957312302
Format: Paperback

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Girls Can't Make Gun Noises
by Paul Surridge

Growing up is never easy - particularly in the 70s when there are flared trousers, pointed collars and bowl haircuts to contend with. It’s 1975. In Westminster, Margaret Thatcher defeats Willie Whitelaw to become leader of the Conservatives – the first woman to head a major political party. There’s a startling one million unemployed and the country is on the brink of a massive social revolution. Not that any of this matters to Gwyn Sugden - a six-year old boy who lives with his Mam and Dad (Beryl and Cliff) in the Welsh Valleys. Gwyn’s world revolves around The Bionic Man and Hawaii Five-0. The only thing he knows about Mrs Thatcher is that ‘She has some lovely handbags.’ Events take a turn when Gwyn’s favourite Aunty, Aunty Maria, brings home her Japanese boyfriend, Junichi to meet the family. Nana Balding responds by throwing a racially stereotyped fancy dress party. Uncle Malcolm wears a pointy hat. Aunty Maureen’s got an oriental dressing gown, and Uncle Ronnie tackles a Vesta Chow Mein with chopsticks as ‘Kung-foo Fighting’ blares out from the speakers. Gwyn’s Mam, Beryl is disabled and trips to the hospital are frequent. Dad can’t always look after him, so Gwyn spends a lot of time with Nana Sugden. Gwyn loves Nana Sugden – even though she’s a bit posh and cuts his sandwiches into triangles. He accidentally gets his Nana into trouble, through a school essay, where he describes her picking special leaves from the garden, putting them under the grill – prompting a swift visit from social services. Dad warns Gwyn not to tell anyone about Nana Sugden’s ‘Jazz fags’ because she might end up in the clink. On the other side of the family, Gransher (Welsh for granddad) is the hen-pecked husband of Nana Balding. He likes to potter about in his shed, and gives Gwyn loose change when Nana Balding isn’t looking. But Gransher gets ill - Gwyn writes to Jim’ll Fix for help, but is ignored - and Gransher’s death has a devastating impact on the family, especially Uncle Graham. Gwyn of course, is much more interested in playing football. He learns to swear, sets his bedroom on fire and dresses up as Miss World for the Silver Jubilee. He also wonders what sort of bubblegum is in the machine in the toilet in Dad’s favourite pub, The Exchange.

Published by Matador for Man Overboard

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'Girls Can't Make Gun Noises' has been long listed for Wales Book of the Year 2013

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