This article is taken from Stand 240, 21(4) December 2023 - February 2024.

Holly Sykes Bric-a-Brac
Craig remembers how hopeful he’d been when he started the training scheme. His mum was so proud. When he told her, she’d scooped up his arms and danced him around to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. She’s a big Elton John fan.

The closest anyone in the family has ever got to ‘engineering’ is his cousin on the driveway, tinkering about under the bonnet. Craig doesn’t really like cars, but engineering sounded so grand when the careers lady at school said it was a choice between that and the army. That had made the decision easy. It was a bit of a shame because he wanted to be a secretary – he can write a lovely letter – but she said those positions were only open for girls.

He was more than ready to leave school: a place of pecking orders, with bullies at the top and the likes of him at the bottom.

That first morning on the training scheme, he insisted on making his own sandwiches, even though his mum’s were the best. He was about to enter the world of work; he could look after himself now. She stood aside and let him do it, humming Tiny Dancer to herself. He could feel her watery eyes on him. ‘Alright Mum, see you later,’ he said, and that was it. He was off.

Now, two months in, and it’s still dark in the morning when he arrives at the warehouse. Hostile eyes look up from the factory floor as he ...
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