In this story ‘Going Places’, A. R. Barton explores the theme of adolescent fantasizing and hero worship through the character of Sophie, a young teenage girl from a lower middle class family.
Sophie and Jansie, two school girls, were coming home from school. Sophie is a daydreamer. She told Jansie that after school she would have a boutique. Jansie told her that it would need a lot of money to have a boutique. But Sophie is not discouraged. She said she would be manager and then save money.
Jansie pointed out that they would not make her manager straight off. However, Sophie persisted in her fantasising. She said that she would be like Mary Quant. She would have the most amazing shop in that city.
Jansie knew that they were both earmarked for the biscuit factory. She became melancholy and wished Sophie wouldn’t say those things. She told Sophie to be sensible. They didn’t pay well for shop work. Moreover, her dad would never allow it.
Sophie changed track. She said that she would become an actress. There was real money in that field. She could also have boutique as side business as actresses did not work full time. Alternatively, she would become a fashion designer — something a bit sophisticated.
At home Sophie declares that when she comes in money she will have a boutique. Her father, who was back from day’s work, and is eating a shepherds’ pie retorts. He tells her that he will thank her if she can buy a decent house for the family. Her younger brother Derek also scoffs at her impracticable idea. He remarks that she thinks money grows on trees. Her mother who is bent over the sink, could only sigh.
The small room was steamy from the stove and cluttered with the heavy-breathing man in his vest at the table and the dirty washing piled up in the corner. Sophie felt a tightening in her throat. She went to look for her brother Geoff.
Danny Casey is a young football player. He is a Irish and plays for United. He is her hero. She is thinking of him all the time. She tells Geoff that she had a chance of meeting with Danny Casey in the arcade. She asked Casey to give her an autograph. But neither of them had a pen and paper.
Geoff tells their father about her meeting Casey. He calls them her wild stories, Sophie asserts that it is true. She adds that he told her that he was going to buy a shop. Her father tells her that if she talked like that she would be in trouble. He observes that Danny is a promising player but he is too Young. They should take care of him lest he should go astray.
Sophie likes her brother Geoff. He is an apprentice mechanic. He travels to work everyday. She imagines it is a fantastic world which Geoff visits. She has already begun to imagine riding behind Geoff into that world. She is confident the world will receive her with open arms.
She tells Geoff that Danny Casey has asked her to meet him again next week. Geoff can hardly beleive her. He thinks that Sophie is too young and Danny must be having a lot of girls. But Sophie says that Danny has told her that he has no girlfriend. Geoff thinks it is the most unlikely thing. Danny could not have told her all about this. Sophie makes Geoff promise that he will not tell about the date to father.
One day Sophie comes across Jansie. Geoff has told Jansie’s brother that Sophie has had a meeting with Danny Casey. Jansie is curious to know all about it. Sophie is alarmed. She suspects that Geoff has told Jansie’s brother about the date too. But soon she discovers that Jansie knows nothing about the date. Then Sophie tells her about her meeting Danny Casey and why she could not get his autograph. But she tells Jansie to keep it a secret because she does not wish the neighbours to come to her house and ask about this all. She is scared of her father, she tells Jansie that if her father learns about it, he will murder her. Jansie promises to keep the secret.
Sophie, her father and brothers go to watch United. There Danny Casey scores the second goal. It was a wonderful hat-trick. Sophie is proud of her hero. Her father is also happy and goes to the pub to celebrate.
Sophie decides to meet Danny Casey. After dark, she goes along the canal to a quiet and secluded place. It was an ideal place for the meeting. There is a wooden bench under a tree. She sits on it to wait for Danny to come. She imagines he is coming out of the shadows. She is excited. But he does not come. Time passes by and she begins to lose hope. At last she is disappointed. She feels he will not come. She thinks now she will not be able to tell Geoff that he was wrong. Geoff had doubted if Danny would come at all. Slowly and disheartened, she walks to the arcade. There she imagines meeting him once again. She asks for an autograph. Once again they discover that they don’t have a pen and paper. Then Casey disappears and Sophie stands there as if enchanted by the meeting. Once again she pictures him as she saw him at United scoring a goal and the audience cheering wildly.