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It seems that Dan's primary school days weren't without their Lizar-spawned shockwaves.  You have to wonder, with all this hindsight, what might have happened had someone intervened arounf here.  This extract is from his second to last term at primary school.

It’s strange that it took me so long to rock the boat with regards to my writing.  I was writing at home from my second year juniors, and managed to keep my bleaker tales away from my schoolbooks for many years.  The problem is that most kids don’t really want to write many stories, and they certainly don’t want to challenge themselves as writers.  They were quite happy to write about their weekends or thrill themselves with a scary yarn about a witch.  That wasn’t enough for me.

            I liked telling proper stories and making up characters, and in turn making bad and dramatic things happen to them.  This wasn’t the sort of thing that you did last weekend. 

            By my last year, though, that rebellious streak was starting to kick in and I had finally bored of the system.  It was a traditional project for the children in the top year of juniors to prepare a short story book for the children in the top year of infants.  They had an A4 sheet of coloured card folded in two as a cover, with a picture stuck on the front on slightly smaller white paper, and on the back was a short blurb.  Something like “Erica the Witch wants to play, but she has no friends.  What will she do?”  Inside were sheets of paper with words on one side, and a picture on the opposite side that opened up and read like a proper book.  The whole affair was held together with treasury tags and probably looked quite rubbish in hindsight. 

I was assigned to a boy called Martin, who I remember being some pasty little ginger kid of the anaemic variety.  He was very scrawny and I’m sure that he wouldn’t have made it through high school without catching the eye of a bully or two.  I met him before I wrote the book to find out what sort of things he liked.  I had to take three things he liked and put them into the story.  He liked cars, rockets and his Mummy. 

Knowing that anything beyond a charming tale would never make it past the scrutiny of the teachers, I had to be a little bit devious in my approach.  In school, I joined in with my classmates in creating fluffy stories with a happy ending.  At home, I was working in parallel, making a second, edgier storybook.  In my years of soap watching, I had encountered many concepts, especially about the things that generated misery.  Some of them I understood quite well, like affairs and stealing.  Others were more grey areas, but I knew the terms and I knew what shocked my mother.

I took double card, and double paper, and double treasury tags and put one set into my bag.  I told Mum and Dad that I was just doing my homework for school.  I told them they couldn’t see the book until it was finished, and because they thought I was being cute they had no reason to question me.  I don’t think I was being malicious; I was just trying to save them the effort of being angry at me. 

The school version involved a ginger boy who built a car that when it got really fast it turned into a rocket, and he flew to the moon in it with his Mummy.  I believe it ended by them flying back to earth and having fish fingers for their tea.  I was told that it was great and that Martin was going to love it.  I smiled back at them, and allowed myself a mischievous grin when they looked away, just like I’d seem them do on television. 

 

That was the way I saw the plan – it was just a little something I was doing.  It was a plot with characters and a deception, and something of a climax.  The climax was to be the last day of the Easter term, which was the day that we were to go and read the story-books to our infants.  My alternative storybook was in my bag, and it wasn’t difficult to swap them over once Mrs Proctor had handed them out. 

Of all of my junior school teachers, I liked being taught by Robyn the best.  She knew me better than all of the others and she didn’t treat me with the indifference or annoyance displayed by most of her colleagues.  She was used to my questions and we had the rapport resultant of her being there during the entirety of my life.  It was a good year at school for me; on the whole I got in less trouble than I had in previous years and Robyn never sent me out of class. 

They had decided that the most beneficial way to do this was to make my class read our stories to the infants as a group, so we each were to take it in turns with our tale, telling the class who it was for and what things we included in it. 

One by one my classmates sat at the front of the room with their infant and read their stories.  They involved racing cars, or going to the beach, or having an adventure with friends.  They all involved happy endings with the one loose end holding the story together all tied up.  I watched on with bored indifference, just knowing instinctively that I had the most exciting story. 

My turn rolled around alphabetically and I stepped up.  “My story is for Martin,” I announced and Martin stood up and came at sat at the front of group, as had become traditional over the preceding hour.  “Martin likes rockets, cars and his Mummy and these things are all in the story.

“Once upon a time there was a boy called Martin who lived at home with his Mummy and his Daddy.  He was happy and they were all happy.”  I turned the book to show everyone the first picture – a boy, a Mummy, a Daddy and a house.   “Every night Martin’s Mummy drove him home from school,” I looked up to Robyn and Mr Poulton at this point, pausing to show that I had subtly included another one of Martin’s favourite things.  They looked on approvingly as I showed the class the picture of the car, and I continued.  Martin was smiling giddily, so happy to be the star of his very own story.

“When they got home Martin would have spaghetti shaped like rockets on toast for his dinner and rocket ice lollies for pudding.  Martin loved rockets.  Martin loved to draw rockets and he wanted to be a rocket driver when he was older.  He wished his Mummy would buy him a rocket for his birthday.”  This was accompanied by a picture of Martin with a rocket inside a thought bubble.

“On the night before his birthday Martin’s Mummy said she had to go out to the shop.  I know, thought Martin, she’s gone out to buy me a rocket.”  This picture was similar to the last, but this time Martin had an exclamation mark over his head.  “He sat in the living room with his Daddy excitedly waiting for his Mummy to return with the rocket. 

“His Mummy was gone for ages and Martin’s Daddy started to get worried.  Martin thought that the rocket must be hard to get into the car.”  The picture here was of a rocket on top of a car.  This was the part where Martin was meant to get a toy rocket for his birthday and live happily ever after.

“When she came home Martin’s Mummy came in crying.  I’ve been raped, she said,” and I looked up to show my picture of Martin’s Mummy crying.  The whole classroom was staring at me with looks of abject horror, just knowing that I had said something bad, even though the majority of us had no idea what rape was.