Wednesday, 18 June 2008



I've decided it's probably time to write my misery memoir. Everyone else is doing it and I don't want to miss the boat on this one. I think this could be the big money spinner I've been looking for.

When you work somewhere as glamorous as I do there are limited retail opportunities during one's lunch hour amble. Once I've bought some vegetarian pate and a fruit bar from Holland and Barratt and checked again, just to be on the safe side, that there isn't anything I need from Poundstretcher, all I'm really left with is W.H Smith.

As I enter this magical emporium I am faced with the latest book releases, and the bestseller rack always has a good percentage of misery memoirs. They tend to have a picture of a crying child on the cover and are called something like, 'Don't let him take me' or 'A Childhood Betrayed' etc etc. Apparently Waterstones even have a new 'Painful lives' section in which to house these new best sellers in their stores.

The masses just can't seem to get enough of them. In my day one was satisfied with a quarter of Quality Street (or radishes) and a second hand People's Friend, but then again if you read on you'll find that my day wasn't all it was cracked up to be. My day was dark.

So, dear reader, please bear with me as I share the outline draft of my first gut churning chapter.

Part 1 - If you don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about

There’s a photo somewhere of a post war inner city slum child. He is wearing black NHS specs, he has a badly executed home haircut and sticky out teeth, he is sporting a very strange home knitted stripy jumper, old grey school shorts and black plimsolls. He doesn’t look like he is freshly bathed. But he does have a smirk on his face so he's probbaly just stolen a sweet.

So where is this photo – well I don’t know now, but for years it sat on the mantelpiece in my mother’s bedroom. So who is this poor child? Well my sister Mary would tell you it was a rat on a string, but others just knew him as William.

For my misery was that I was an ugly child, brought up in the time style forgot, the 1970’s. Well I know there was style in the 70’s but not in Leamington and not in my life. When a little older I did have an orange jumper but I think that was about as bright as the 70’s got for me.

There is another picture, which I will try and find as the world must see it, of me in shorts, a shirt and tie, still rat on a string era, my brother Joe in a suit I think, my sisters Mary and Anna both in what they were told were gowns, but Mary swears blind they were nighties from Woolworths. We are stood in the garden of our ancestral home with the Doctor, St Jennifer and Suzy. It was Suzy’s wedding day.

Photos also exist from Suzy’s wedding party showing people smoking and looking like they should be up North. Suzy was a girl we had living with us, one of my parents’ pregnant young girls they took in and housed and directed in support of abortion avoidance. They were all very nice. I also remember Margie, Laura, Carol and Patsy. I think Patsy became a model and we used to see Carol’s mum’s name in the credits of some of the old carry on films.

So maybe there was some joy in the 70’s. My neighbours, Phillip, Howard and Lucy certainly had an amazing collection of toys requiring batteries. But I seem to remember the 70’s as mostly being overcast. Perhaps that is simply down to the black and white photos. But I was ugly and at the start of the 70's they did make me wear an eye patch.

As a poor catholic orphan I was taken in by the church and forced to be an altar server. Well I think that's what they'd have thought seeing me up there on the altar. Probably in a too short or too big cassock. Little did they know that I was their doctor’s son. And if they did they should have written in! I think the altar is where I first got the taste for the grape juice. Granddad always said, and I firmly believe rightly so, that if they offered a bit of cheese with the wafer more people would come.

To be continued……. Next time read about how I was made to wear unfashionable clothes whilst being told they were ‘ideal’. About the time I was made to eat my cornflakes out of a dirty bowl, how I was forced to go to school with the poor and about having a Kagool.

Coming this Autumn – the 80’s – haircuts, orthodontists, corrected eye sight and the deep fat fryer.

2 comments:

Brother Joe said...

I was brought up in a very similar house (after all, I am your brother) and can honestly say this trendy vogue for rewriting the past (and I lay the blame squarely with Will Self) has gone too far. We're all against it.

james watson said...

Put me down for a first addition signed copy. Keep them coming great sunday afternoon reading.