Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee (1959)

If you fancy a hot horny roll in the hay, sigh no more. I remember boys at school reading it over and over again. Often alone.

Always found it a bit prickly myself. And the dust makes me sneeze.

But first. He may have had a lay in the hay, but it’s mummy whom Laurie really loved.

She loved this world and saw it fresh with hopes that never clouded. She was an artist, a light-giver, an original, and she never for a moment knew it… Mother sat on the bed and looked at me proudly. All was love; and I could do no wrong.

Why mention this now? Because is underlines an innocence before the scudding shock of Rosie.

Okay, now we’ve momma out the way, let’s lollop back to the big boink.

Why’s it so good? Why’s it so sexy?

Because it’s so self-contained and has the oft-used classical structure of a story or journey – all in just three and half raunchy pages.

You know, the default set-up writers of stories and TV scripts lean on.

1 Protagonist and what’s at stake/what do they want (often don’t know)

2 The journey, overcoming obstacles/has trouble getting it

3 Learns something/has changed in some way [In this case, I was never the same again.]

Weave in Laurie’s lyrics with a hot summer’s day and it sizzles.

Laurie’s a teenager. He’s frightened, twitchy and full of bravado when confronted by Rosie, who had grown and was hefty now… and I was terrified of her.

“I got sommat to show ya.” [says Rosie]

Poor sod hasn’t a hope, like a fish wriggling on the end of a line.

“You push off,” I said. [wriggle, wriggle]

I felt dry and dripping, icy hot. Her eyes glinted, and I stood rooted. Her face was wrapped in a pulsating haze and her body seemed to flicker with lightning.

“You thirsty?” she said. [note the narrative ‘said’ instead of ‘asked’, she’s so assured and in control of his destiny]

“I ain’t, so there.” [wriggle, wriggle]

“You be,” she said. “C’mon.” [sharp tug on the line and she starts reeling him in]

So I stuck the fork into the ringing ground and followed her, like doom.

And there’s so much mesmeric threat. Even the stone jar of cider under the hay wagon is huge and squat… like an unexploded bomb… that first long secret drink of golden fire…

And then there’s Rosie. His destiny, dusty with buttercups and purring in the gloom; her hair was rich as a wild bee’s nest and her eyes were full of stings.

Enough already here. If you haven’t read it, do.

Was it just a kiss under that wagon? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. It’s what this passage does to certain parts of you that matters. If you’re thinking about something other than the inside of your head, you’re being saucy. Rosie won’t mind.

And if you’re tiddly, you might even say the passage is Edenesque. Go on, stand back a mo.

Innocence. Threat. Temptation. Cider [apples]. Sex. Reproche la femme! Haw-haw.

Most wagons my way these days are ones to fall off of.

Thanks for being here.

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Guy Nicholls

Writer and book bore.

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