Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Steele’

“Always got his head in a book, hasn’t he?”

“Doesn’t he play with other boys
Like normal children?”

“He comes out with some very long words
For someone his age”.

Common complaints from his early years,
Still spoke today by puzzled adult peers.

As dusk descends on the car-less, cobbled street,
He doesn’t heed the steadily falling rain
Driving him in from games of marbles, cricket
And flicking fag cards down the darkening lane;
He’s immersed in yarns of a boy named William,
A girl called Alice and a bear of little brain.

Intrepid tales of a Little White Bull,
A three part novel written at age eight,
Inspired by a song by Tommy Steele,
Leaves proud parents in a blissful state.

It earns a mention in the local press,
A child genius the gushing paper quips;
Before it goes the way of most success,
Wrapped up in paper folding fish and chips.

And now, through adult recklessness,
It’s lost like many of those TV shows
Twizzle, Torchy the Battery Boy,
Hoppity and Four Feather Falls,
The boy watched while eating crumpets
Toasted with fork on open fire that glows

Two years on he stands upon the platform
Of Greatstone’s railway station green,
Waiting for Typhoon or for Southern Maid
Or if he’s lucky, maybe Doctor Syn!
Bottle green cardigan knitted by Mum,
Plastic shoes and pudding basin hair,
Shorts excrutiatingly tight,
He hugs a guide book, pen and favourite bear.

So many hundreds, thousands, read since then,
Most kept, but some to charity shops have flown;
So many bookshelves creaking from the weight
Attest to how the love affair has grown.

The man remains seduced by books’ allure,
Enchanted by their feel and smell and view;
And though his taste has mellowed since,
His friends include that crazy girl and Pooh!

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It all began with a crew-cutted boy barely past his seventh birthday publishing a three part novel about the “Little White Bull”, inspired by the Tommy Steele song.  Well, it was written in three separate notebooks, though each contained but a handful of pages.  Public acclaim in the form of a local newspaper feature followed but the shy lad with the bottle green zip-up cardigan proved the proverbial one hit wonder, unlike Tommy Steele, and exchanged his pen for football and cricket bat. Writer’s block had set in alarmingly early.

The next burst, or rather dribble, of creative activity emerged at university when, surrounded, for the first time, by hundreds of attractive, intelligent and refreshingly accommodating young women, his poetic, as well as primal,  juices poured forth.  A passing resemblance to Neil Young, an extensive West-Coast and Dylan-centric vinyl collection and the coveted all-night slot on student radio kept the “ladies” (true hippie that he was he never used the term “chicks”) in thrall, but the lovelorn verse was excrutiating, even if  the paper it was “composed” on made a satisfyingly good roach.   

After university, “life” took charge and, for more than thirty years, the writing took the form of business plans, appraisal reports and other worthy but dull publications in the service of successive governments.  He strove to put some colour and sparkle into them, but “house style” and corporate terminology strangled such efforts.  All the while friends and colleagues acclaimed his talent and said that he should write for a living.  Work commitments and a natural indolence prevented him from acting upon their encouragement until he managed to extricate himself from the former a little under two years ago.

Having completed a successful home learning college course on travel and tourism, during which, once again, his tutor and others who sought his advice on a range of destinations praised his abilities, he has finally, more than fifty years after he “exploded” upon the local literary scene, decided to give this writing lark a go.  It is as if that little white bull had “come charging right up to him” and told him that he was a “brave little bull”, perhaps not the best in Spain, because after all he doesn’t live there, and that he should now test his capability of producing worthwhile written work that others might enjoy.

So there we are, dear reader.  Aside from more interesting offerings be  prepared for a series of anguished posts over the coming weeks, months and years on the subject of writing itself.

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