You know how it’s cool to have a space to just do your own thing? Well, on some Saturday afternoon’s, I attend a creative writing workshop to do just that. This is one of the pieces of work from one of the workshops. Not every piece of work in this category will be complete, although I might feel compelled to carry it on after the workshop. Hell, they might not even be good, but in the interests of showing a vague creative process and its product, well it’ll go up on here anyhow. And for good measure, I’ll try and explain the exercises that led to the work (and at this point, I’m starting to know a thing or two about those).
This short is from one of the first workshops I attended. Notably for me, it was the first one I attended with my own note book to write in. Exciting stuff. The workshop started with an array of pictures on the table. They all depicted various scenes and were of various ages. We were tasked with picking one that appealed to us and I was immediately drawn to a picture of a child being handed an inflatable crocodile by a man in what looked like 30s or 40s London.
We were then asked to explain around the picture, to which I wrote that the person looking on, taking the picture, was the mother of the child and the wife of the man. These pictures and scenes were intended to be, if you’ll forgive the pun, a snapshot into the life of those involved. The exercises were built around drawing out details and filling them with a life around them. Some of the material people came up with was funny, some sad, some interesting. As for mine? Well, I really enjoyed that workshop and what I produced. I was more than happy to go back home and finish it up, the result of which you see below…
Crocodile Blitz (5/4/14)
May 10th – It’s bin a long time cince Daddy left home. Mummy has bin relly upset. She crys when she comes into my room and sees the big, green, silly
crodile crocodyle he got me befour he went. I think it’s relly funy, but I miss him. I hope he’ll come back soon.
June 2nd – Tomorow its’ my birthday! I am very excited! Mummy has started smelling funy though. It was very suny today. We went to the park.
June 4th – Daddy sent me a postcard! It said that he was safe and that France was very nice. Mummy still has the postcard. She keeps it in her room. I would like it back.
July 9th – When I came back from scool I herd Mummy talking to two grown ups. I went upstairs and started doing my work, but then I herd Mummy start shouting. It was a bit scary. Mummy slammed the door after they left and came upstairs and gave me a hug. Her face looked upset. I think she just missed Daddy. I miss him too.
July 20th – Daddy likes warm weather. I think he would like it here right now. I hope it is nice where he is in France.
August 23rd – I have had a very nice summer. It was very warm and sunny. School will be starting soon. Mummy has helped me with my spelling so I cannot wait to show my teacher!
September 4th – Mummy had the wireless on all day. I came back from school and she hadnt’ moved at all! I saw a dish with grey stuff in it that she tried to hide from me. I think it was making her smell so I don’t now why she had it.
September 6th – One of my friends at school said that their house was almost knocked down! That sounded really scarey, but she was safe.
September 9th – I heard a big bang during the night. Mummy rushed in to make sure I was okay. I thought it was exciting, but when we looked outside the houses at the end of the street had fallen down. People were crying and upset. Mummy wouldn’t let me stay out for long. I still had to go to school. One of my friends was not there. They must be ill! I am very tired today!
September 10th – My teacher didn’t come into school today. We were taught by the head teacher! He is not as scarey as I first saw him. We were also mixed with another class from the same year because they had a smaller class today. It was very exciting, but the room was full.
September 11th – We had the same class today like yesterday. My class had a couple of friends missing. It was not as exciting. The head teacher looked a little upset at the start of the day as well. I bet he just got out of the wrong side of bed!
September 14th – Two grown ups came round to the house today. It was very scarey. They said they wanted to take me away, but I did not want to go and Mummy was holding me and began crying and shouting at the mean people. They left after a bit, but Mummy kept hugging me for a long time after. They did say they would come back. I don’t like them at all!
September 16th – The head teacher said that a lot of the classes were going to be mixing together. Alot of my friends were not at school today. The head teacher said that they had gone away or were going to soon. I wander why me and Mummy didn’t go away?
September 19th – I don’t usualy go in the under ground, but there was a really loud sound that made Mummy take us to it. I was playing with the crocodyle and brought it with me. Everyone under ground was anoyed because there was not much space and it took up a lot, but when someone got angry, Mummy took them to the side and when she came back, the other person did not seem as angry. It was a bit exciting at first, but we were in there for a very long time and no one else seemed to be very happy about being in there. Many people looked scarred and unhappy. When we finally left, another building on our road had fallen down. I hope our house does not fall over. I really like it.
September 20th – Mummy explained to me that there are some bad people in the world who want to hurt us. I don’t know what we did to make them so angry, but Mummy was very serious when she was explaining this to me. When I asked about Daddy, she stopped talking and started crying. I gave her the biggest hug I could and that made her happy again. I am glad that I could make her happy!
October 11th – The grown ups from before came around again. I let them in as Mummy was making some food and they said that they wanted to make sure I was safe and could live somewhere else where it was safe. I said I would only go if Mummy wanted to go, but they said that only I could. I shook my head and told them that I would not go without Mummy. Mummy came out and spoke to them with her puffy stick and told them to go away and puffed some smoke in their face. They said they would come back again and left. They seemed pretty angry, but my Mummy is the best.
October 15th – My class is really small now. I don’t have many friends left here any more which is sad. My spelling is definitely inproving though!
November 20th – It is getting cold here. I wonder how cold it is in France for Daddy.
December 11th – IT IS ALMOST CHRISTMAS! YAY!
December 25th – I got another postcard from Daddy! He said he had been moved to the south of France. It is very pretty there! He had a photo of him and his friends and there was lots of snow that made it look very nice. They didn’t have smiles, but I think they were having fun. Also, I moved the crocodile onto my wardrobe so it guards the door. I thought it was good, but Mummy seemed surprised when she came through the door.
January 1st 1941 – It is the new year! I will be eight years old this year. I think that is very exciting! Mummy said that she hopes Daddy is able to come home this year and I do too!
May 27th – I am writing this at school because our home was damaged by the bad people. We were not in at the time which is very good. The front of the house was hit by something called sharpnel and we were not allowed in for ages. Our living room was a bit broken but everything else looked okay. Mummy is at the church which has a shelter with a lot of the things we own until our home is fixed. She said that “luging around this crocodile is rediculos” but I think she was happy to do it. I do miss my bed a lot.
July 6th 1946 – I found this diary of a child in some of the stock underground in the Church. I do not know to whom it belongs or if it is even belonging to the child of a parishioner. So many people came and went during the war that it seems hardly fathomable that I shall be able to return it to its owner. Nevertheless, I shall keep it here in safe keeping along with this note such that if its owner does, somehow, find themselves reunited with this bastion of youth and innocence that they might once again utilise its empty pages.
February 9th 1948 – I couldn’t help but hasten myself to the location of this diary after a most joyous conversation I had with Mr. Stennis. The man, whilst clearly damaged from his valorous efforts during the war, spoke at great lengths about his family and how his most delightful daughter, Clarissa, had a large green crocodile that she insisted they bury in their garden after it had become broken and deflated. It is a shame that there are no pictures in this treasure, but one must imagine that this is no mere coincidence? An act of The Holy One (Blessed be He) to which I am sure there is little doubt. Next Sunday, I shall be sure to make sure to show Clarissa this book. Or, perhaps, I should do it sooner? I must admit that I find this rather exciting!
February 10th – I must confess to some disappointment. Mr. and Mrs. Stennis had not made it clear that their daughter Clarissa was away at school and had merely come back for the weekend. They could not recall seeing this article before and when I offered to let them read of its pages, they declined. My excitement seems quelled, but I shall hold onto this until I next see dear Clarissa.
June 4th 1961 – It is a most peculiar thing, memory. I could not remember why, at first, I felt such a need to speak to the delightful Miss. Stennis. It was only after the parish had left that I found myself mysteriously peering into the drawer that contained this relic. I should say it was forgotten, but clearly it was not! I am not sure why I waste time writing this, perhaps because it will be my last chance to write in this tome, but I felt the need to. I depart immediately in hope of finally returning this to its rightful owner!
June 18th 1961 – I read through these pages and remember the childhood that has long since been. He asked me if I had read through this yet earlier at Church, but I confessed the sinful truth, that I had not. He understood why, but I could feel him pleading with me through his words that I do so. So, here I am. This remains a fine specimen and the memories rekindled are loving ones. That things have changed so much with time, both with understanding and circumstance, I feel are worth written down here such that someone may know about me all there is to know.
Once my father, Andrew Stennis, returned from the war, he was a broken man. I did not realise it at the time, but the scenes he must have faced must have left him questioning his own purpose and reason for living. The horrors he witness bring a grave chill to me and I know that my imagination is but a distant call away from reality. Yet, he loved me more than I think he ever did before he left. He is a man that can only offer loving kindness, a facet I am glad remained unchanged by conflict, but for a man of such stern beliefs to see what he saw, to do what he did…it is unsurprising how angry he can get. I choose to believe it is anger built from love and fear of loss, but perhaps time will prove the truth. Whatever that may be.
My mother, Jennifer, seemed similarly impacted by the way. Though it saddens me to read some of what I’ve written with the naivety that I then had, her reasons for anger and sadness were mine shared; my father was not around and their bond of love had been shattered by the hatred around us. Her smoking and eventual drinking almost devoured her soul and whilst it remains whole again now, I dare not think what could have been. When they told me of how they met, how they fell in love and that that was it, they knew their lives were to be with each other, it makes sense how badly she took it and the extra burden that was on his mind. I believe that whilst he was fighting for his country, he was chiefly fighting for three.
It is hard not to laugh at the things I wrote. My spelling was simply atrocious! Yet, the constant excitement and unknowing became me. I live now deep in books with the hopes of educating others in the vast fields of science. It seems fitting I suppose that Biology is where my heart lies. That stupid
crocodile crocodyle! I cannot believe I took it with me into the Underground so many times. I mock it, but at the time it was very much as part of the family as thee. It is though nice to have this part of my life documented, as badly and as well as it is in equal measure.
You know, I think I might go and show this to them. Will it turn us back into the family we were twenty years ago? I doubt it, but if only for a few moments, then I shall be happy.