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Northern Boy

Meet Rafi Aziz, an ABBA-loving ten-year-old growing up in early ‘80s Lancashire. Flamboyant, sensitive and confused about his feelings for the new boy in school, Rafi is a butterfly among the bricks.
He has to face bullies, challenge the shifting expectations of his eccentric mother and break out from the confines of his smalltown world if he is to be true to himself.
But Rafi isn’t prepared to leave his childhood behind without one final flourish of high kicks, a swish of sequinned cape and his impeccably Brylcreemed head held high.

Northern Boy is being published in Summer 2024 by Unbound Firsts. Pre-order your copy now:


With the speed of a sputtering telex machine, I filled Mother in with the news. The choir was going to be on TV. I’d be famous! Who knew what talent scouts might be watching Pebble Mill. I knew I'd stand out from everyone else. I might even appear on Top of the Tops - I was a million times better than St Winifred’s choir and that girl with the big tongue. This was my Get Out of Jail Free card. I broke into a medley of ABBA songs and tip-tapped around the kitchen in my Jesus sandals. 


“Rafi, please!” said Mother, waving a large metal spoon at me. “Why this hungama? What do you mean you are going on the TV? And why are you singing these baqwaas songs and giving me a headache?”

I stopped short. She was calling S.O.S. nonsense? I shuddered at her ignorance, but I bit my tongue. I needed her on side. Without Mother's signature on the letter, there'd be no taking part in the competition. 

I broke into a song from her favourite Bollywood film, Bobby. Unable to resist, Mother dropped her spoon with a clatter and waltzed me around the room. Her little-girl voice joined in with my singing and the sizzle of the pan and the sticky slap of our feet on the lino provided the percussion. As we whirled around the tiny, smoke-filled kitchen, her dupatta flew behind her like the tail of an electric-pink comet. 

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