‘Crying out’ by Kevin Murphy

Here’s Kevin’s piece from the 3rd March trigger ‘Gear change’

‘Crying out’ by Kevin Murphy

We were playing in the sandpit, Little Madam and me.

Somebody was crying.

I went to the back door. ‘Mamma. Somebody’s crying’.

Mamma came to the door. She could hear her.

‘Daddy!’ she shouted, ‘somebody’s crying, out over Jarvis’s.’

Daddy stands at the back door. ‘That’s “Help, Help” isn’t it? Sounds like a woman.’

He runs to the back gate. Mamma runs after him.

We run after Mamma.

Daddy can’t get the gate open. He throws my train. He throws Madam’s trike.

Daddy’s in the lane.

We are all at the gate – I stand against the post and Madam holds Mamma’s pinny.

All down the Lane, men at their gates, listen to the cries for help.

They run. The run across the lane, across the field, towards a point in the big hedge along old Jarvis’s farm.

The first one disappears in the hedge.

A shout. He runs out. The men all shout and run along the hedge to get to the farm-gate.

Mums and kids stand in the lane.

I cry for the poor lady.

Madam laughs at me.

I poke her.

Mamma lifts her up.

She looks at Daddy running.


The lady still cries, but we cannot see the fathers any longer. They have disappeared along the boundary fence and probably clambered into the farm. Mothers gather up the little ones and move together into huddles. There is some whispering and more attention and concern is displayed to the infants.

A mother sidles towards the side lane to improve her view of the men, to gain first impression of safety … or menace.

The rescuers reappear and the first couple give a wave to the gathering on the Lane.

The lady still cries out so the women look from one to another. I see Daddy and Mamma lets me run towards him.

I career into his arms. He gathers me up into his arms, laughing and kissing me.

‘Stop laughing at the poor lady, Daddy,’ I say patting his head.

‘What a ridiculous father you have Kevin.’ He looks around and shouts at the other men who are all panting and laughing and waving to their arriving wives and families.

‘We weren’t to know!’

‘Naagh, we couldn’t chance it.’

‘So frightening – real wasn’t it.’

‘ ’ark at the stupid thing – took no notice of us!’

‘Old Jarvis shoulda told us.’

‘Told you what, Daddy?’ asked Mamma.

‘That he’s been and gone and bought himself a blinkin’ peacock.’


‘What’s happening to the lady, Daddy?’

A true story. Mr Jarvis had a farm, now a scrap yard, across the field from Meadow Lane, on Jackdaw Lane, Oxford. My sister was actually called Madam by everybody until she got to secondary school. Clark’s got the idea for their shoe advert from her.