Boys Don't Cry

By
Leslie Heywood
1st February 1995

‘I inherited my good looks from my father, but I’m told I have my mother’s eyes.

Father was from a good Hereford family. Life for me could have been good, but I never knew what it was like to have a mother. On the day I was born I was taken from her and put with the others who, like me were unwanted. One of the older boys told me she cried when they took me from her. I cried for two days. Well I’m not crying now; “boys don’t cry,” I told him.

There was camaraderie amongst us boys at the Grange, because none of us could remember our mothers; we were all alone.

My best friend once said “you don’t miss a mother you’ve never known,” so why did I miss mine?

Life was hard but I had my mates to keep me company, and we talked about all sorts of things, but I knew I was missing out by being taken from my mother so young.

The only mother we knew was Anne Tidmarsh, the girl who looked after us at the Grange. She was not at her best first thing in the morning and would bellow at us as if we were deaf. Anne was a bit strict, and didn’t give us much freedom, that’s why we were all excited the day we heard that we were going to be treated to a cruise on a big ship.

I remember that was the first time I got a good look at the Herefordshire countryside. I had heard about its lush green hills and rolling valleys but was unprepared for the sheer beauty of the county. This little corner of England seemed to be populated at every turn of the road by rosy faced people who didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

Wrapped up in their own cozy little world they paid us no mind as we passed by. I wanted to get off and explore the city of Hereford, but they wouldn’t stop the transport because we had a ship to catch. As we left Hereford on the way to the port we saw some guys having some fun.
“It’s a shame we never get to play in the countryside, because it looks like fun,” I said to my friend. He didn’t answer me; he was too busy looking at the view.

Then I saw a mother with her young son and I felt cheated by my own loss. It upset me so much that for the next few hours I was lost in a sea of despair. By the time I came out of this depressed state of mind we were at Dover. There were a lot of people at the port, more than I had seen in one place before. There seemed to be a big argument going on, because even after we’d boarded the ship I could still hear them shouting.

Before we landed on the continent we heard that we were not going back to Herefordshire. “I for one will not miss England. She has washed her hands of us and our fate.” I told my friend.

They can keep the sea too, I was sick on the ship and I was glad when I heard we didn’t have to go on the big boat again. We were all full of hope that day when we heard we were going to a new home in France. Some of the guys hoped for a new diet in a country famed for its food but all I wanted was more room to live in.

We were all to be disappointed about our new home just outside Bury in Normandy. The food was just the same as in England, and we had even less room to live in than before. Jean Fouquet, our new master was a hard man and we soon found out that he was going to bring us up in a strict and traditional way.

The main house looked nice but I didn’t think much of our quarters. Being English, I didn’t complain and soon made some new French friends. These guys knew a thing or two. I was young and eager to learn so I asked all the questions I could think of. I learned a lot in the few months we were together. My new companions told me that we should be proud we’re in the common market, because the member countries have a good record on human rights, whatever those are.

Then this morning we heard that we were going on another trip. I was so happy.

The rumour was that I and the boys were going to a top gourmet restaurant.

I can still see that black tom’s face as he smugly told us our fate. He walked down the large wooden beam that ran the full length of the shed and pressed his face next to mine. I lifted up my head from my bucket of milk to see what he wanted.

“You think you’re going to a restaurant for a day out,” he laughed: “You veal calves are dumb. The only way you’ll go to a top restaurant is as the main course. Don’t you get it?” he licked his lips: “I’m quite fond of veal meat myself. My master always brings some back after he takes calves like you to the slaughter house,” he purred.

Just to rub it in more he went on to tell us how some of the farm animals got to run and play in the fields, and were not kept in small veal pens like us. I wanted to run away, but there’s only just enough room to stand up in a veal crate, so I had to stand there and listen to him describing our fate in detail. That’s how I came to be here today. I know that you only work here, but please let me go. I don’t want to die!

My words seemed to fall on deaf ears. This man in a heavily blood stained white coat, who held my fate in his hands would not listen to my pleas. I was scared: I could hear the screams of my brothers dying. What kind of life was this to be kept in a small crate, to be force fed milk? Then I heard my friend cry out and saw his blood run down the drain before me. All this pain and suffering just so they can have white meat, and they call us beasts! I turned and tried to get away but my way was barred. The man shoved me forward; it was my turn to die.

“I’m only four months old, please don’t kill me!” I was pushed towards my fate: “Mummy. I want my mummy.” I turned to catch one last look of the blue sky: “To run free in a field and eat grass in my short life, was that too much to ask for!”

The End

For Jill Phipps

Coming soon on this site, “Blood of The Magpie”, by Leslie Heywood, a book that some in the Arab world see as their Animal Farm. Due to the forth coming American presidential election, this book is coming out as an ebook, as it may have some bearing on the outcome of this most important election.