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GROWING UP BEFORE TIME.

You stood outside the ABC cinema with Helen looking at the framed photographs of the stills from the film then showing she clutching her doll Battered Betty you standing there pointing out the main characters my old man said hed take me to see this on Saturday you said Helen rocked Betty in her arms I hope our child doesnt call you old man she said maybe he wont you replied it might be a she Helen said sure it might

you said you gave Betty a look as she hung there in Helens arms you looked back at the photo stills putting your hands in the pockets of your jeans maybe you can take me to the cinema when we are older Helen said and we can sit at the back like those grown ups do and kiss you sensed her hand touch your arm and rub it up and down Betty moving as Helens arm moved sure you said long as I can still see the movie Helen handed you Betty and you took

your hands out of your pockets and held her gingerly like she might go crap on you and Helen put a hand in her pocket and pulled out a few coins I might have enough here for some fries she said ok you replied and you walked beside Helen along the New Kent Road to the Neptunes fish shop holding Battered Betty carefully against your cowboy shirt the one your mother bought you for your birthday the year before Helen talked of childrens names and you thought of the Wild West and cowboy games.