Christine B. Hodghton was born in Cardiff on St David’s Day; she just wishes her Welsh was as good as her French! She is an avid traveller and enjoys researching places and events. As a child she lived in Bahrain, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada.
She has lived in Dunfermline for nineteen years, and often skis on the slopes at Glenshee. Recently she has taken up walking in The Glen with Archie, her mischievous Bichon Frise puppy, who is the source of some tales!
Christine spent over twenty-three years as a primary school teacher, till she decided to undertake her MLitt and follow her dream of writing, rather than just enticing children to write.
Her greatest passion is fiction. Her mind often plagues her with ‘what if’ questions. ‘Searching’, has been a work of love -a personal quest for the truth and the uncovering of secrets. It has been written in a hybrid style which incorporates the use of different voices and points of view.
Christine would like to write about giant spiders in a futuristic landscape at some-point, if only to frighten her family. She also wants to abseil off the Forth Road Bridge or do a parachute jump!
Bethan St. David’s Day 1st March 2018.
Bethan stood in the kitchen kneading the block of icing. The Scottish spring sunshine permeated through the locked windows. Bright but heatless, with the emerging daffodils in bud but not open. Such a difference to ‘down south’ where the yellow or white trumpeting heads would adorn every patch of green for miles around…
…Bethan arranged the icing on the gluten-free sponge cake, neatened the edges and placed some tiny daffodil cake decorations atop. She smiled to herself and moved it aside whilst she prepared the rest of the food for the birthday tea. Today she felt only joy, to be here with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and her three delightful grandchildren. What a difference to the St. David’s days that she had years ago as a child.
Elizabeth St. David’s Day 1st March 1958.
The girl glanced around the room. Her eyes scanned the rows and rows of seats. From her position at stage left, she could see most of the room and many pairs of eyes: some smiling, some anxious, some closed, others raised to the weathered ceiling, some just glazed over. Ah, the pair she was looking for – greyish blue and sharp looking, she had spotted her mam. Older than most with her silver-grey hair, set into precise curls. Her monthly trip to the hairdressers must have been this morning. She sat primly with her maroon handbag on her lap, clasped tightly, and stared straight ahead.
Bethan hoped that her mam would smile at her before the performance, just a little one would do. She knew that her mam loved her, but she did not show it often…
The curtains closed, the children tiptoed to their spaces on the stage and they stood as still as Castell Coch, in the next village. The curtains reopened and the piano began with a short introduction of ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, the Welsh national anthem…
Bethan found her mam. She patted her on the head …Then she turned away to speak to Mrs. Doris about her son’s upcoming piano examination. As Bethan stood next to her mam, she felt alone. She watched Jane and her other friends receiving hugs and kisses from their mams and pats on the back from their dads. She wiped away a solitary tear from her eye.
Aneurin St. David’s Day 1958
It was six o’clock, the key jiggled in the lock and Bethan rushed to the door with eager anticipation. Her dad came in, removed his beige overcoat and lace-up shoes; Bethan took his black trilby and gently stroked the brim, pushing the velvety fabric to and fro, the warmth from the wearer still on the inner edge. He always wore this hat, she could remember no other and she loved its texture, smell and shape; it was like a part of him…Her dad took her in his arms, gave her a hug, and asked her how the St. David’s Day concert went. Bethan felt thrilled. He had not forgotten!
Jack 27th July 1949
Jack sat with his mum in the kitchen. His head was held firmly in his hands and he uttered a groan, so mournful, it was as if it had emanated from the depths of his soul. His tie was loosened and the shirt untucked…
‘You’ve been to see that Barbara again, haven’t you? What’re you doing that for, you great lummox, only days away from yer wedding!’
Jack could only glance up at her and sigh. His were eyes all puffy from a late night, and one a bit swollen from where it looked as if it had been struck by something…
‘What time did you come in? Surely, you’ve not bin out all night! That poor girl Mary. I hope you’re not leading her up the garden path. If only your dad was alive to talk some sense into you.’
Jack 29th July 1949
From her position in the pantry, she glanced at him and shook her head, then straightened out her pinafore. She poured herself another cup of tea from the large ceramic teapot with a chip on the spout, a wedding gift from many years before. She sat down opposite Jack and placed her bony hand on his. ‘Jack, you will be fine. Mary will make a good wife. Your dad would have been proud of you, Son.’
Jack offered up a thin smile, then went upstairs to change into his Royal Navy uniform. His mum cleared away, removed her pinafore and went to find her hat. Her special hat, the one only worn at weddings and funerals alike.
Mary 29th July 1949.
The day had finally dawned. Mary awoke from a fractured sleep and winced sharply as the sunlight seeped through the thinly curtained windows. She stretched, yawned loudly then huddled the blanket closer to her and tousled her shoulder length hair; in two hours-time she was to be married!
… Jack was the epitome of a charming sailor-suave, good looking and he definitely had the gift of the gab. He had courted many women, after all he was seven years older than her, so that was to be expected. Although when they first kissed, barely three months ago, he had declared that she was the only woman for him.
Mary stared at the dress hanging on the front of the wardrobe. The ivory-white tea-dress had been her grandmother’s. It was intricately adorned with an overlay of fine lace and a trim of artificial pearls on the neckline. She had always coveted it, from when she first saw it in her grandmother’s wardrobe at the age of eight. She treasured it, and it was all that she had taken from her grandmother’s cottage after her funeral in November. As she thought of her grandmother, she shed silent tears. If only she had been here to see this day.
Mary gathered herself together and smiled at the pretty, heady bouquet; the sun shone …Her life had changed from dreariness and despair to happiness and joy – just within a matter of months. As she walked the few blocks towards Bristol Registry Office, she felt that her life was now blessed. She was ready for her future and whatever it held. Margaret took a deep breath and opened the doors.
Bethan Watching 1953
I sat still. Watching. Watching very quietly, as the others milled about. They darted here and there. Johnny ran around with his arms outstretched like an aeroplane, well that’s what I thought it was. I had only ever seen one as a broken wooden toy, never a real one…Fred also ran around. They collided and blamed each other. Lizzie wailed.
Barbara came over to me, in my little corner, and gave me a hug…She said that I am like a little sister to her. She said she has a real little sister but does not know where she is. A lady in a suit came to her house one day and took Beth away. Barbara said she called her Beth, but she could not really remember her name as she was so little herself then.
Outside the windows, peering in, was a crowd of men and women, hats and coats, all different shapes and colours – the people and the clothes. Their eyes glanced into the room. They glanced around, some grimaced. Another wiped a finger across the windowsill and examined the dust. They stared at us. We looked at them. Judging each other in silence. Eyes searching, examining. They stood in couples or alone. Gradually they moved towards a Sister standing with a clipboard and pointed to a child within our glass-walled pen. I just sat and watched.
Siân (aged eleven) January 1984
… Siân rang the doorbell and her mum answered it straight away. They made their way into the front lounge, a room normally reserved for playing snooker, her dad to record the Top Ten or for special visitors. They sank into the plush brown and cream velvety sofa, which had an Aztec type pattern. Siân could barely ask the question that was on the tip of her tongue. She didn’t need to. Her mum’s eyes, green-grey and awash with old and newly shed tears, said it all. Siân froze, and tears fell like a burst dam onto her school uniform. She ran to the bathroom, threw up until only the bitter tang of bile was left, and slumped onto the tiled floor. Her world had collapsed with just one look.
Bethan September 1984
…Bethan had found life a struggle since her dad had passed away. After all, he had lived with them for many years. She missed his company, the times when they would just chit-chat, or watch a television programme together, or even just his very presence in the house.
Bethan had been busy sorting through some paperwork that morning, when a photograph slipped between the sheets onto the floor. It was of her dad painting their kitchen a lemon colour. He stood on a stepladder with an old grey V-neck jumper on and his grey trousers; on his head he a wore a Scottish tam. He said he wore it to stop getting paint on his bald head! The hat was still in a cupboard somewhere and this photo always made her smile. Heaven knows where it first came from, after all they had never been to Scotland and were unlikely to… Scotland was far too far away.
She decided that today she would confide in Siân. She hoped she would understand. The difficulty would be in telling Siân about the adoption. She returned to the lounge and sat down in her dad’s rocking chair. Bethan stared again at the picture of her dad and offered up a silent prayer.
Mary 27th August 1985.
Mary clung onto Peter’s arm tightly. She hesitated a few times and hung back as if she ought to change her mind but couldn’t. She owed it to Peter to be brave. She needed to be brave. After all these years and the lies she told, well, the omissions about her youth, they had come back to haunt her. Peter had been marvellous. He had been confused and hurt about the omissions, but he refused to show this. He was a man of honour.
… All of them hesitated. The woman said ‘Mum?’ With the tiniest of nods, Mary ran towards this woman, this woman whom she had last seen as a tiny baby, and they hugged and cried. They pulled back from each other and stared, then hugged again. In the meantime, Peter and the man – Brian, shook hands and smiled on at the sight.
Siân September 2018
Today I just wanted to see my parents. I needed their calmness and a hug, just to take the edge off my fraught day. So instead of completing my marking at school. I bundled it into my already overflowing bag and left promptly after the last child had gone….
… five minutes later I was cradling a cuppa in my hands. Dad resumed whatever he was doing on his computer, something to do with car insurance, and left mum and I to have a blether. We eventually came around to the topic of her birth, which we hadn’t spoken about for a while. I explained that one day I would like to write about her story, if she was willing-which she was, and she said to start right away. I retrieved my notebook and we began…
‘Apparently my birth mother absconded with me from the children’s home, when I was just under a year old. I was taken to an address in Yeovil, Somerset, where I stayed for four weeks. During this time the police and social workers hunted for me and I was eventually tracked down.’