'The Boswells Connection'... The Trouble with You

'The Boswells Connection'... The Trouble with You
Tomorrow is the launch of ‘The Boswells Connection’ a book of fictional stories linked to Boswells written by Oxford Inc, a group of writers who compile stories around a common theme. Join us in store tomorrow, 25th May, between 11am – 2pm to meet some of the authors behind the project and to have them sign your copy of the book (which must have been purchased in Boswells). We have lots of other events planned for the weekend too so join our mailing list or follow us on social media to keep updated.
This excerpt is from a story by Karen Gray; Karen has lived and worked in Belgium, France and Egypt at various times and moved to a village outside Oxford 12 years ago. Some of her previously published stories reflected life in other places but all had an insight into family lives. She discovered Boswells while exploring Oxford and this time she writes close to home. Boswells Tea Room and particularly the toy department with its appropriately decorated lift doors reminded Karen of her (now grown) three sons and the cubic metre of Lego they left behind with her. She couldn’t resist the chance to imagine a visit by three generations of one family with consequences that many will recognise in The Trouble with You – and it may not all be fiction!



The Trouble with You

Karen Gray

We don’t usually go on a Wednesday. That’s because I go to school now, and Mum is working. But today is different. Today is half-term and a special day.

When we get to Gramps’s house, Mum goes in to get him and I stay in the car with Abi, as usual. ‘I’ll be two minutes,’ she says. She always says that. It’s never two minutes.

I wasn’t sure about my little sister when she was born but I’ve got used to her now. She doesn’t look like me. She’s blonde and makes funny faces. Gramps says she’s a real cutie, she ought to be on telly, advertising babies’ nappies. She’s good at pooey ones, Mum says. When we take her out, lots of people smile at her and ask what her name is. It’s Abigail but we call her Abi for short. She looks cute but she’s never still unless she’s asleep. ‘Old fidget bottom,’ Gramps calls her. Mum says she’s dreading the day Abi starts crawling.

While we wait for Mum and Gramps to come out I begin to count out loud, as usual. 1, 2, 3... Abi listens for a bit, then starts straining at the straps of her baby seat and kicks her legs. 10,11. I get one of the soft toys out of the bag Mum keeps in the car and wave it at her. She stops kicking and grabs it. I start counting again but she soon throws her toy down onto the floor of the car where I can’t reach it because I’m still strapped in my seat. 17, 18... I hold out another one and Abi bashes it out of my hand. 20. Where’s Mum? I wish she and Gramps would hurry up. By the time I’ve counted to 31, the toy bag is empty and Abi is beginning to scream. She’s not so cute when she screams.

At last, Mum follows Gramps out of his house. It’s only as wide as one door and one window before the next house starts. On the window sill there’s a droopy green plant. It used to have red flowers.

‘Have you got your key, Dad?’

‘Of course I’ve got my key!’ He pats his coat pocket. ‘You don’t need to ask me every time! The trouble with you is you fuss too much.’ Mum bangs the front door shut, comes to hold the car door open and waits while Gramps drops down onto the passenger seat, bottom first. He glares into the back of the car at Abi,

‘What’s all that noise about?’

She stops screaming and stares back at him. Gramps swings his right leg into the car, grunts, then lifts his left leg with both hands and heaves it in alongside the other one. Another grunt. Mum is watching.

‘Alright, Dad?’ He ignores her and she shuts the car door. She gets in on her side, starts the engine and asks, ‘Boswells as usual? Or do you want to try somewhere different today as it’s your birthday?’

‘Why would I want to do that? Bloody silly idea.’

After we’ve parked the car with Gramps’s special sticker and gone into the shop we find a lady with a purpley-blue scarf and a shopping trolley waiting for the lift. She says she’s not in a hurry and lets us go ahead of her. Even Gramps says thank you. He gets in the lift with Abi in the buggy, as usual, taking up all the room because the lift isn’t very big. Mum and I go up the stairs, as quick as we can, and meet them outside the lift on the next floor up. We go round the corner into the café, find an empty table and a highchair, then Mum settles us at the table and sits down herself… 


We hope you've enjoyed reading this little teaser. If you're tempted to read the rest and all the other stories, do come in store to get your own copy of the book!

Posted by Sam Mansell
24th May 2019

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