When Derek Thompson sticks his neck out…Entry #8

My Beloved Literati

We have had some wonderful, sensitive entries into this contest, and this is one of them.  Derek helped shaped the trajectory of A Word With You Press almost ten years ago, and has been a prolific writer.  His Thomas Bladen spy thrillers are at last taking root and receiving the readership they deserve (five novels and counting), and I invite you all to investigate: https://www.goodreads.com/series/195477-thomas-bladen

Derek had the pleasure of meeting me a few years ago in Penzanze, and while I am susceptible to pyramid schemes, Derek is actually an Egyptologist , his home filled with treasures he robbed from the Pharaohs when he wandered through the desert (not-un-ka-man).  An intriguing fellow: the depth of his existence reminds me I am usually in shallow water myself.  Here is a poignant story he has contributed to our contest.  I do hope you will take a moment and recall stories of your own, and enter our contest: https://awordwithyoupress.com/2018/11/24/our-new-contest-high-heeled-sneakers/ 

Special bonus:  Entry fee waived for each story submitted by December first.


Cut From The Same Cloth

by Derek Thompson


Treasured items of clothing always have a provenance, but this one’s story – or the hint of it – has revealed itself over the years.


The scarf belonged to our dad, although I don’t remember him wearing it. Come to think about it, I don’t even remember how it came to be in my possession, but I can hazard a guess. So let’s start at the beginning, or rather an end. My brother and I lost our parents in our twenties, about five years apart. David, my brother, always said he was amazed that Mum had survived so long without the love of her life. He also said that if she could have taken poison on the day Dad died, she would have. Now, maybe the scarf had hung on the hook, abandoned but not unloved, elevated to the status of a holy relic and never to be handled.


And probably, unless I took it as a keepsake back then, David would have kept it (with the other relics) after Mum died. I can’t imagine he would have offered it to me when he was clearing things out before the move. But I like to think it might have accompanied him on those solemn, fearful trips to and from the hospital for tests, and a leaden diagnosis, and the frequent stays to get his white cell count up, or combat the infections, or to try another roulette-spin treatment that might, this time, turn the tide. And if that were the case, my brother might have given me the scarf at a time when he knew there’d be few journeys left because he wanted the scarf to be worn and cherished. I can’t recall if it happened that way but I like to think it might have.


The only other explanation, a memory hidden from memory, would be that I found it there among my brother’s things again when I cleared his flat after he died. I might have taken it then as a family inheritance, a tangible link to a past that now had only one witness. It’s not my colour, and maybe it’s a little too fancy for me, but when I wear it the cloth is a light pressure at the back of my neck, like a reassuring hand. Judging by the Made in England label and the style, this Tootal scarf was made in the 1960s, like me.


I wear it indoors sometimes when I write. No particular reason, but I like to keep it close. Short of hypnosis, I’ll never know which story is the true one, and I’m okay with that. It’s like life and the stories we tell ourselves that change over time and audience. We were there and even we can’t decide which story fits us best. The scarf reminds me that every story, even if it isn’t entirely true, has its own tiny soul at the centre.


Thanks, mate.  Your last line makes me think of Chief Broom in One Flew over the Coo-coos Nest:  “…but it’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen.”


6 thoughts on “When Derek Thompson sticks his neck out…Entry #8

  1. Mike Stang says:

    Your memories weave and switch and reach out to support the depth of field so eloquently written. I wanted to sit with tea (I know it’s an English thing, but there you are), and go through the family album.
    Wonderful to read you again, Derek.

  2. Miryam says:

    “…every story, even if it isn’t entirely true, has its own tiny soul at the centre.”
    Love this line Derek.

    I so appreciated the touch and feel of emotion that you expressed about keeping the scarf close… As always, your work is a pleasure to read.

  3. Jon Tobias says:

    I like the image of the scarf as a reaffirming hand, and it is such an important image because we don’t know which version of the story is true in regards to how it made its way into the narrator’s hands. It lends itself to the final lines of the story. The scarf is more important that the complete truth because of what it represents. Very beautiful write, and thank you for sharing.

  4. Tiffany Vakilian says:

    Beautiful, like you. A vignette with a handful of stories woven throughout. I wanna write like this, in my way. Just, I don’t know, breezy…even as it touches your heart and makes you want to visit family before they are gone.

  5. Monika Spykerman says:

    How utterly lovely. As I read your deftly woven take, I looked down to notice that I am wearing my own mother’s favorite striped sweater (that’s jumper to you), which I pulled out of her drawer a few days after she died.

    …and I promise that I will have a cup of tea together when I am in Penzance, which perhaps we will visit in the next few years.

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