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May 20, 2012

I had the idea for this one on Wednesday afternoon, at Manchester Piccadilly, waiting for my train home.  I thought I’d write it as a companion piece to ‘Granny Red’, posted here on 12th December last year.

Dumpling, in ‘Pollyanna-Dubček,’ is the little sister of Goblin in ‘Granny Red’ and the bald man’s youngest granddaughter.  And yes, her gorgeous real-life counterpart really does call me “Manma”.  She calls my wife “Manma” too!  Which is quite ingenious of her – a combination of Man (me) and Ma (Stella)!  Why use two names when you can get away with one?!

‘Pollyanna Dubček’ is an odd sort of story, I suppose.  Hope it works for you anyway.




She wears red tights, red shoes, and kicks in glee as he trundles her up the track.  The pain in his back is fierce as he stoops over the buggy.

The bald man calls her Dumpling.  She calls him Manma.  ‘Pollyanna-Dubček’ is a Manma/Dumpling thing.

Down the valley, early lambs sniff each ewe for a particular scent.  Dumpling loves their spindly legs, their ears pink in the sun.

Pollyanna-Dubček, Pollyanna-Dubček… 


Gulls peck over the furrows and she screws her face up in disgust.  Moist black furrows, slimy furrows, half-worms wriggling – “Yuck!” says Dumpling.

Manma laughs, coughs, gasps for breath and stretches to ease his back.

Molehills at the village park – “Yuck!”

A big blue dummy in the mouth of Blond George – “Yuck!”

Pollyanna-Dubček, Pollyanna-Dubček… 


Bald Manma grits his teeth against the pain as he pushes her on the swing…ninety-eight-argh, ninety-nine-argh, One Hundred!

From in front, crouching – argh-one, argh-two, argh-three…

Dumpling giggles, rosy-cheeked, and kicks in glee.  Her red shoes thump his chest.  It’s all in the fun of the game.

With every push, the dry hinges squeal their familiar message:

Pollyanna-Dubček, Pollyanna-Dubček, Pollyanna…


Next, the basket-ride, her favourite.  Dumpling is tired now, by the third revolution snoozing gently.  Her tussled hair and red shoes are just visible over the green rope rim.

Manma plonks himself on a bench to wait.  The sweetness of spring sooths his lungs, the sun smooths his knotted spine.

Distantly the swing squeals again, Blond George pushed by his mum.  No more a message for them here than in the squabble of treetop crows.  This is a Manma/Dumpling thing.

Pollyanna-Dubček, Pollyanna-Dubček, Pollyanna…




© Copyright Paul Beech 2012

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