Why not! As a kid, I had a passion for writing and this extended into adulthood but only as a hobby and sporadically. Sporadically would be an overstatement to be fair. That said, the last story I wrote was at age 16 (almost 30 years ago) and this was in my GCE ‘O’ Level exam. It helped earn me a grade “B” and a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary at the school prize giving. Yay me.
Until I wrote the above paragraph, I’d forgotten all about winning that prize. It was a genuine surprise at the time and presumably something I can be proud of (I don’t think I ever actually told anyone).
I want to tell you a bit about the story from the exam and try to give you a bit of an insight into what it was like to be aged 16 in 1986.
In the exam, we were presented with several photographs and could choose to write a story about either one of them. I chose a picture depicting some wasteland with a 1960’s pre-fabricated block of flats in the background, a group of kids and a hole filled with water. I do not remember what any of the other photos were, this one seemed the least boring.
To me, being presented with this picture completed the perfect cliche of divisions in society. That’s a lie, I just made that up, but subconsciously that might be why I found it interesting. I am now certain that the posh kids at the private college just a mile or so down the road were given an entirely different set of photographs from which to draw inspiration for their own exam stories.
What were they expecting us to write about? Given this today, I might well have penned an angry letter to my local MP “Dear fat slug, thanks for helping screw over an entire generation. Sincerely blah blah”.
However, thanks to the circumstances surrounding my personal life in my youth, I was in a pretty dark place. No, I don’t want to talk about it. That shit’s personal.
Returning to the scene in the photo I chose to write about. Would it really have pained the government to at least offer a little hope to the countless families forced to live in high rise tower blocks? Instead of wasteland, perhaps a park with a scout hut or youth centre annexed to it? They could have funded it by withdrawing tax payer funded privileges for MP’s such as moat cleaning. I suppose this didn’t fit in with Thatcher’s vision of a “Better Britain” and most certainly would have been counter intuitive to the governments’ divide and conquer tactics. Not much changes, does it?
Without Social Media to turn to, the class of ’86 had no singular voice, no comeback and, the working classes especially, no hope. Unemployment was high (about 10% of the workforce, well over 3 million) and, unlike the latest “recession”, interest rates were over 10% (imagine that!) and there were comparatively fewer job vacancies. Parents wouldn’t listen because that generation were too busy compliantly filling out shares applications in order to make a quick killing. If you were privileged enough to be able to afford shares that is. They took anything the government could sell them in fact. Don’t fret, the government wouldn’t allow those parents to hang onto the profits because the now private companies would ensure the cost of their services would far outstrip any quick profits made by shareholders.
Back to the photo of the flats, the wasteland, the kids and the hole. This hole was presumably the result of groundworks or unfinished landfill for left over building materials waste from the monstrous erection (stop rolling your eyes) looming in the background. Health and Safety was not as much of a consideration back then either. Nowadays, that hole would be risk assessed, cordoned off and absolutely no fun at all. But I had an idea and so I started writing.
In the half an hour or so I had to pen the story (handwritten kiddies… we used a pen and paper back in the day) I followed the basic rules. A beginning, a middle and an end (and yes, it could certainly be argued that’s not something that has applied itself to this blog). Kids will be kids, they investigated some strange gurglings that had started emanating from the large puddle…..
It didn’t end well. Not for the kids at least. In one dynamic Cthuluesque paragraph, the poor mites had gone from joyfully playing on their bikes to being a rather messy ensemble of body parts. The tale ended with said body parts being shovelled into body bags by the local constabulary. Who knows what horror befell them when they investigated the strange happenings beneath the water? I can’t remember all of the details but my story (as clumsy and incoherent as it was) probably presented a good metaphor for where I was in my life at that time. And have been ever since I guess.
Having enjoyed writing when I was younger, I am now working on a lifelong ambition to actually complete a proper story. You could call it a “book”. I have been working on this since the New Year and was inspired to start writing by a televison character (they don’t know who they are, will remain anonymous and yes, I recognise the cliche! Oh the romance of it.
I was then further inspired to blog by someone who shall remain anonymous but might well know who they are, to make this public. I think in doing so, it might make me buck my ideas up and sit at the keyboard a bit more. Completing a book is something I really want to do for me, my project for the year or years ahead and will fulfil a childhood ambition.
I’ll keep you updated and I might (only might mind you) post the odd extract on here. In the meantime, I might well also blog about other stuff because some of this can be included in my work. I’m too lazy to research properly you see, so I’ll be drawing on lifes’ experiences. And making some shit up along the way.
Thanks for reading!