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Your Friend Forever by Zena Barrie


Preston, 1981. Maud, who is twelve and lives with her dysfunctional parents and her elder brother, spends a lot of her time in her bedroom writing letters to her favourite popstar, Tom Harding, the lead singer of a punk band called Horsefly.

No one really understands her or tries to – and she thinks Tom just might have some answers to her many, many questions… 


For the attention of Mr. Tom Harding
Friends of Horsefly
PO BOX 113

18th January 1981

Maud Harrison
22 Slater Street

Dear Tom,

I really want to play the guitar. I asked for an electrical guitar for Christmas, I didn’t get one (I got some socks, tights, 7p in pennies, a writing pad, a packet of biros, one of my Mum’s old jumpers and three tangerines) but my Dad says he’ll look out for one in the pawn shop (it’s a secondhand shop where people take things and sell them to the shopkeeper and then buy them back the next week if they can afford it and if they can’t then someone else will buy them). I don’t think he really will though because he’s got no money and there’s no one to teach me how to play it anyway. How did you learn to play the guitar? Did you have lessons? I’ve got no one to be in a band with anyway. Actually Sarah (my one true friend) might do it, but she can’t play anything either, well we can both play Silent Night on the recorder, and Sarah said we could still be punk if we played Silent Night and then smashed them up. But if I smash mine up I won’t be able to get another one, it’s not mine anyway, it’s the school’s, it’s about fifty years old, the top of it is all chewed. Also what if we wait until our first gig to try the smashing up and it turns out I can’t smash it up properly. They’re quite sturdy. And if I did manage to smash it at the gig it would mean no more gigs, and you can’t just play one gig can you? I don’t think we should do it anyway, it’s not going to help matters.

I really like your song Shandy Hand. Sometimes we get a bottle of Bass shandy with chips on a Friday. I really like the taste of it. I don’t think there is any alcohol in it though. My brother Simon always drinks it then pretends he’s drunk. He’s fourteen and a half. He’s a real idiot, and I think he hates me because I’m (much) cleverer than him. It’s stupid hating a person for being clever isn’t it? I could help him with his homework and suggest some further reading for him if he wasn’t so horrible.

Yours sincerely in anticipation of a favourable reply, Maud Harrison

P.S. I can’t understand why there is nothing inspiring or emotional about being at school. I am full of ideas and feelings all the time. I don’t understand why everyone else isn’t full of them. Or are they just hiding it? In which case I wish they wouldn’t hide it. Is it just me having all these thoughts? I wonder if on the outside I look like a person without thoughts or feelings. Maybe I just look like a boring, pasty nearly thirteen year old. I suppose I am (but loads of interesting things are going on behind my face, sometimes too much, it’s probably good that it’s invisible, I could get arrested, I’m not sure if all of it is legal a hundred per cent of the time). Do you ever have illegal thoughts? I’d love to hear all about them.


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Zena BarrieZena Barrie lives in Manchester and runs the Greater Manchester Fringe and the Camden Fringe. She ran the Kings Arms pub and Theatre in Salford for a while and the Etcetera Theatre in Camden and worked in a wide variety of roles at the Edinburgh Fringe (from street performer to venue manager). In the 90s she did a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts specialising in playwriting. Up until recently, she has been co-hosting the award-winning spoken word night Verbose. She is also one half of the performance art duo The Sweet Clowns. Your Friend Forever is her first novel.

Follow Zena on Twitter, website, and Instagram.


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