Perfect Family Tales And Other Trivia

The art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen. Tales told by an idiot? Maybe! But my tales are also a mix of reality and fantasy; truth and lies; some based on my own family; others, not. Readers must guess which characters are real; who are inventions - and who are an amalgam of both. Please draw the boundaries for yourself.

Friday, 13 July 2012

‘Remembering Mr Oliphant’

ElephantRoger Oliphant and my mate Sue were screwing like mad. She was aged 16 and he was 32.

Mr Oliphant was also our Civics and English Literature teacher at High Mere High School and this made me very cross indeed. Not only because ‘Ollie’ was dead cute and I was peeved as hell. I knew their shenanigans were totally out of order and lost no time  in telling Sue.

“Mind your own business, you nosy cow. It’s up to Roger’n’me and nothing to do with you or anyone else. I’m 16 and could get married now if I wanted. He’s just waiting for the right time to tell his wife, Margie, divorce her and then we’ll be free,” she said.

“You pratt!” I said. “That’s the oldest one in the book. Y’know what’ll happen if all his ‘rogering’ gets you pregnant …?”

“Shut up, you disgusting know-all! You’re a jealous, cross-legged ice-queen who’s never been laid. Bet you never will, neither!” Sue yelled back.

We didn’t speak after that and I was surprised when Ollie paid me a compliment in class.

“So you want to be a journalist, Deirdre?,” he remarked during a session about careers.

“I think that’s a good choice. You have a keen ear for language, an uncommon ability to find the core of an issue  and are beginning to develop a distinctive style of your own.”

Of course Ollie and Sue avoided unnecessary verbal or eye contact in public so he rarely, if ever addressed her in class. But everyone knew what was going on. So maybe I was being – well, bribed – when Ollie recommended me as editor of The High Mere High School Times.

This was a role usually given to a committee comprising a half-dozen of the top English students in the Upper Sixth, most of whom tended to be Oxbridge candidates.

But no-one else wanted the job in our senior year so I grabbed the chance. The experience would certainly put the shine on my application to the J-School at the University of Central Lancashire. I was thrilled to bits and went totally off the rails. Perhaps this was also what Ollie had in mind.

Even the head teacher, George Browning, said I had done  very well to produce a 20-page edition with sharp pictures and  unusual angles on traditional school activities. I ran a double-page spread on sports day and  wrote a sagacious editorial based on the speech the Lord Mayor had given at prize giving.

So I didn’t give a fig that no-one liked my lead story. I was very young and ridiculously self-important.

“Sixth-Form Sue Screwed By Elephant In Class-Room” ran my head-line, while the story below was a thinly-veiled account of what almost everyone knew had been going on for months.

Ollie, Sue and I were expelled the same day – except Sue and I returned to sit our exams. Unfortunately for me, we left by the same entrance at the same time and Ollie contrived to back his car out over my left-foot.

“Sorry, love,” he called through the driver’s window as I reeled in pain.  “I’m  a clumsy elephant who needs to be better kept. See ya!”

“Not if I see you first,” I muttered back. But I took no action as J-School  and the top papers were my aim and any  legal proceedings could have slowed me down. That’s how I became a chief headline writer for The News of The Screws and still laugh fit to bust every time I hear or read that boring line about ‘the elephant in the room.’ I definitely scooped the world there.

Still, I’d love to know what happened to Ollie and Sue. It smells like a great story to me ….

Natalie Wood

(Copyright, Natalie Irene Wood – 13 July 2012)

Post a Comment