It is quiet in the early fields. A bell begins to toll for Mass, and from all over the village dogs set up their barking. A priest in his long skirts stands on the steps of the church. People are coming, clutching their missals. The priest goes inside. He is old.
Latecomers shuffle in the porch. Men in their shirtsleeves stand leaning on the glass at the back of the church. Their shadows hunch about. The voices of the faithful rumble after the priest. A baby’s hand taps on the glass.
Outside the streets are empty. A rook on a post clucks to itself and squawks down, loud-beaked, to its fellows.
While it is not autobiographical, it is strongly influenced by personal memories of when and how I was educated. It began as a short story for Radio, and I later developed it as a play for Radio 4. Later still, I worked on turning it into a novel, and it remains my personal favourite of all my writing. It is essentially a novel about the influences of religion, family and music on a child’s life, and how as a young woman she strives to break free of all these bonds and address the problem which has haunted her since childhood.