SUNDAY 4th October 2020
On yesterday's blog I shared an idea for a story THE KA OF TIMOTHY FORD - NEWMAN. This is a very rough draft of the opening part of the story:
Friday 28th July 1967, a day Timothy Ford-Newman had been looking forward to for longer than he cared to remember. School and childhood were over and now the real life could begin. Just the week-end to negotiate and then a new job with a wage packet to fund anything and everything Tim could imagine.
He turned to face the school building, put up two fingers then shouted “Fuck Off !” to the bricks that had held him in an educational prison for most of his life. One final gesture then he could head home, Tim dropped his trousers and exposed his naked bottom to the school and all it stood for.
“Welcome my brother, welcome in peace and love.”
“Hello,” Timothy stuttered. He felt different and he knew he looked different. He knew this was still July 1967 but he knew he wasn’t sixteen any more.
“I don’t thank you.”
“But this isn’t tobacco.”
“Come and meet some more friends.”
“I’m John.” He made a sign with his fingers which was similar to that Timothy had given to hisschool but totally different in meaning.
“I’m Timothy but please call me Tim. What is this all about ?”
“Come and meet your new friends. A stranger is only a friend you have yet to meet and there are lots here for you to meet.”
There was Julie and there was Tanya. There was Peter and there was James. There was Donald and there was Dianne. There were indeed literally hundreds, thousands of people there but where were they ?
“How old are you Tim ?”
“Nineteen.” He knows he is nineteen but he knew he was not that old.
“That’s a good age to be.”
“What’s with all the flowers ?” Tim asked directing his question to all about him.
It was John who replied. “If you kill a man, if you cut him down he is dead and you can not change that. If you cut a flower from a plant the plant does not die, more flowers grow in its place. The more flowers you pick the stronger the plant grows.
Tim was not sure he comprehended what John was saying.
“We are going for a swim,” Tracey added. “when we come back we can all pick some flowers for. Come and join us for a splash.”
“I don’t have any swimming trunks.”
“You don’t need swimming trunks. Since when has a fish needed swimming trunks to swim ? If a swan were to put on swimming trunks its beauty would be cut in half.”
This was a dream but it was a dream of reality. Why was Tim part of it ? Why was Timothy Ford – Newman a part of it ?
He was in a bit of a corner, he was going to have to swim in the nearby lake with his new friends. He was going to have to swim naked.
“When we have finished swimming we’ll have something to eat. We don’t eat meat. Then I will fix you a joint, weed is vegetarian of course.”
“Injured due in eight minutes doctor.”
Already Doctor Newman could hear the helicopters in the distance. “How many are there ?”
“Ten whirly birds Doctor so could be twenty but that’s just the first wave. It’s going to be a long-haul doctor.”
I think I am going to be able to make it work. I need to think through this initial opening draft then write it again.
For my story YOU NEVER GROW OLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL I yesterday knocked out four thousand words. Here's a chapter from the book:
Atom Bomb And The War Was Never far Away
Back a couple of years to when I started school. As a little boy of five I excitedly began my education at Banners Gate County Primary School in The Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield. Any excitement disappeared within the first hour. Education was not rock and roll, it was monochrome and boring. Can scary and frightening be boring ? Perhaps not, no certainly not and my class teacher was no boring she was explosive. Monochrome ? Yes but dark in character and action. Mrs Attwood who probably taught Charles Dickens, Jack The Ripper and possibly even Robin Hood. Grey, her hair was swept back into a bun somewhat the size
of Cassius Clay’s fist. Her false teeth were the same colour and sharpened to the same keenness as the knifes on Queen Boudica’s chariot. Boudica, a formidable lady but a pussycat alongside Mrs Atwood.
Mrs Atom Bomb, she was never known as Mrs Attwood, terrified we little kids with her personality and ever present threat of a nuclear explosion. What did I learn from her lessons ? What did she teach me ? Not a lot but I guess she must have taught me to read ?
The first reading book I had was Nip and Fluff. I can remember the opening words: Here is Nip. Nip is a dog. Here is Fluff. Fluff is a cat. Actually I think my Dad did a lot to enhance the basics of Mrs Atom Bomb. There was in Birmingham City Centre a shop by the name of The Midland Education Company. Dad went there and got a copy of Nip and Fluff for me to learn to read at home.
The Three R’s. Reading – Riting – Rithmatic. That’s the first R sorted.
Writing, or should that be Riting. ABC….. I think The Atom Bomb may have told me what the letters of the alphabet were but she never taught me which order they needed to be placed in. Again, I remember it was Dad who taught me a little rhyme to fix in my mind the alphabet: ABCDEFG – HIJKLMNOP – LMNOPQRST – UVWXYZ How many letters are in the alphabet ? Twenty-six ! No, twenty-five ! What ? The angel said NO L.
I wonder which school Mrs Atom Bomb is working in now, I wonder how many times her fuse ignites and how many times she explodes the way she did back in my day at Banners Gate County Primary School. The biggest explosion I can recall came when she drew a giant question mark on the blackboard ahead of whatever it was she intended to inflict upon we kids. When you are in the reception class at school and just learning the letters of the alphabet what relevance is a question mark ? I and others put our hands up to ask what it was The Atom Bomb had drawn on the blackboard. Krakatoa in 1883 is said to be the biggest explosion the world has ever seen, close behind it was The Atom Bomb’s reaction to our question.
There was a national shortage of teachers in the early part of the rock and roll decade but for Banners Gate County Primary School to have employed Mrs Atom Bomb Attwood, may I suggest, was scraping the barrel a little too low.
On a more serious note, in the early 1950’s World War II was a very recent memory even for those of us who were not alive at the time. I was born at the end of 1950, 3rd November, the War In Europe ended on 8th May 1945 and the war coming completely to an end on 15th August 1945 with the defeat of Japan but to a small child like me evidence of the war was everywhere.
Walking to school I passed a public air raid shelter. It had been filled in with soil and rubble but the entrance was clearly visible. In the back garden, now being used as a shed was an Anderson Air Raid Shelter. Most homes had one.
My grandparents talk was very much of the war. However, to a small child this talk was not negative and filled with horror but of positive community spirit and support for ones neighbour. To a naive child I thought that war must have been a good thing. It was not in this decade but November 1960 when conscription in Britain ended.
My Dad’s older brother had been killed in the war and his photograph was everywhere. My Mum’s parents had been bombed three times in London, so many times I heard the story that the piano in the window at the front of the house protected everyone from the blast.
Banners Gate County Primary School itself was a prefabricated building thrown up quickly after the war.
Walking in Sutton Park there were clear signs of a tank training area and a deep concrete trench used for artillery training. I do find myself wondering if this dated from World War One. My Mum tells me that there was a prisoner of war camp in the park.
News reports on the radio and TV of unexploded bombs were not uncommon. I particularly remember one report where a bomb had been found at Hungerford Bridge in London.
I have said how an ammunition box served as the bread bin in our home. I had a couple of empty 303 cartridges within my toys.
In my day I trained to be a teacher over a three year course, today to become a teacher you need a degree then have to follow a one year top up course. In post-war Britain the government attempted to solve the teacher shortage with a one year emergency training scheme. The 1950’s saw the post war baby boom needing to attend school and a shortage of teachers from those who had served in the forces and not returned to civilian lives.
Mrs Atom Bomb Attwood, I wonder when she trained to be a teacher. It could have been as part of an emergency government programme after The War Of The Roses.
I also knocked out an article on global warming for the local newspaper.