about this site
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy? (age 7)
WAEN SHEPHERD Who is this strange old man? (age 50)
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
ENGLISH 1 A few tentative steps into a world of terrible writing
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
Sheet Lightning Waen and his Gran shelter from the sheet- shaped storm
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
The Old Stone Age Ancient humans try to co-exist with cave lions and giant deer
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
An explanatory briefing for beginners
WHAT IS THIS PAGE?
WHAT IS THIS WEBSITE?
WHAT BOOKS DO YOU MEAN EXACTLY?
THE HISTORY OF THE BOOKS
WHY SO MUCH STUFF? WHY NOT JUST GIVE US THE HIGHLIGHTS?
ARE THERE ANY MORE BOOKS?
BUT I DON’T SEE IT ALL. WHERE’S THE REST OF IT?
WILL YOU BE CONTINUING INTO 1982? 1987? 1995?
This page is an explanatory FAQ about this website. For information about its fifty-odd-year-old author, please see his other website. For information about the seven-year-old Waen Shepherd, click here. To read about Fairburn, try this page.
This website is a celebration and exploration of the books I wrote at school when I was a young boy living in a village called Fairburn in North Yorkshire, England, from September 1979 to February 1982, between the ages of 7 and 10. It features both the original things I wrote at the time and my thoughts about them looking back as an adult. Also a whole bunch of other stuff which hopefully sets a context in which we can understand what I wrote and why I wrote it.
30 School Exercise Books 8 English books 1 English Exercise book, which doubles up as English 9 1 History book, which doubles as a Science book 2 Geography books 2 Maths books (there were three, but I didn’t keep the first) 15 Topic books (they go up to No 16, but No 15 is missing) 1 extra book marked ‘Everything Book’ (covering ‘everything’ I did in my last couple of weeks at the school when all my other books were full) And these additional random items 1 Christmas-themed book written on posh school paper 1 essay written up in my best handwriting to go on the school notice board 3 short books I made at home 1 Easter card I made for my Mum and Dad 1 book of song lyrics, half of which were written in Fairburn
It depends what you mean. If you mean: did I carry on writing similar garbage after I left Fairburn? The answer is yes. But its character changed over time as I got older, so there’s continuity, but it’s not the same. If you mean: did I write anything else in Fairburn? The answer is definitely. But there’s zero chance of it ever turning up again.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Several reasons, chiefly: 1. I want to 2. I’ve always wanted to 3. The books are special to me 4. The books might, potentially, become special to someone else 5. I feel like I owe it to my childhood self 6. It would make him happy knowing more people have read his work 7. Making him happy makes me happy 8. Maybe that will make other people happy too Just to expand those last few points for a bit - I don’t know why anyone really wants to express themselves in public. We all do to some extent. But this website isn’t so much me expressing myself now as me interpreting the work of someone whose memories I inherited. I feel like I owe it to him to tell people about him and what he wrote. Even if it’s absolute top-tier garbage of the highest order. No. Especially if it’s absolute top-tier garbage of the highest order. Because no one writes garbage quite like he did. Which leads me into the other, more important, point. I only wrote so much of this rubbish because my teacher at the time, Mr Geraghty, had the insight to see that, when I had a spare moment - say, after finishing some other piece of work - I was always much happier and more productive writing and drawing than if I was just forced to sit there twiddling my thumbs. It wasn’t his regular solution for dealing with a classroom fidget and it wouldn’t be anyone else’s. At the next school I attended, I was strictly forbidden from doing anything above and beyond, instructed that, whenever I finished my work, I should sit there in silence doing absolutely nothing. And it was dire. I’ve no idea how many other kids in the early 1980s shared similar frustrations, but I doubt many of them had a Mr Geraghty to help them out. And of those that did, how many managed to fill so many Topic books? What I’m saying is, if these books aren’t unique, they must be pretty damn close. And yes. This is also a sad excuse for a middle-aged man to wallow in nostalgia. But hopefully I can share the joy. Hopefully I can provide a historical inisght into what it was like to be a white working class kid in 1980s Yorkshire. And hopefully therefore offer you something just a little bit different.
1979-1982 I wrote the books in Fairburn. 1987 Rediscovered them age 15 and found them utterly hilarious. As if they were written by a completely different person. Five years might not seem like long enough, but it’s almost a lifetime at that age. I remember this because I recorded myself reading out one of my Fairburn stories onto a tape. After which I stuffed them into a carrier bag (actually three carrier bags, but I didn’t notice that at the time), shoved them in a cupboard and forgot about them. 1998 Rediscovered the books yet again while on a trip back to my Mum’s house in Yorkshire. Read some to my wife, who found them utterly captivating. They reminded me of a time when I’d been much more creative, and somehow happier. Decided to take them back home to London for further study. 1999 Compiled some of the best stories into a makeshift book, with the hope of interesting a potential publisher. The main note that came back was that, to make it work as a collection, I’d have to provide some autobiographical detail, to set an appropriate context through which people might more easily be able to understand it. I published some of the stories on my own website but it didn’t last and, before long, I got distracted by a new career. 2000 Started making an animation called Origen’s Wake, based on a distorted version of my childhood. The setting was based on the council estate in Airedale I lived in till I was seven years old, but the story and the art style were inspired by the Fairburn books. Not to mention Grobschnitt. But you don’t know about him yet. 2001 Got commissioned to turn Origen’s Wake into a 12-minute pilot for Channel 4, which was broadcast as part of the Comedy Lab series. When it failed to get a series of its own, I got distracted by another new career. 2003 A comedy character I created called Gary Le Strange, based on the pop stars I listened to when I lived in Fairburn, won me the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe. At some point, I discovered yet another bunch of Fairburn books in a different carrier bag. But that wasn’t important right now. 2007 As Gary Le Strange wound down to a shuddering halt, I started reading out some of my Fairburn books live on stage, mainly at Robin Ince’s monthly Book Club gigs. They went down well, inspiring me to start writing the essential context I needed to make the books work as a whole story. But I soon realised the project would only work as either a hugely expensive hardbacked coffee-table book (which no one in their right mind would publish) or a massive sprawling website. At the end of the year, I discovered yet another batch of books in yet another carrier bag, but the whole thing was starting to seem like a monstrous obsession which might potentially engulf my life. 2010 I finally published some of my Fairburn stories on a massive sprawling website, complete with autobiographical essays and the beginnings of a timeline. It was good work, but too difficult to navigate and even harder to maintain. Plus it didn’t sit well alongside the other stuff on the site, making the whole thing unwieldy and confusing. Then smartphones happened, meaning it had to be restructured for viewing on a mobile phone. Then the company that made my website software decided to stop supporting it, so I took the site down and got distracted by another new career. 2020 Uploaded a brand new website which was more mobile friendly and easier to navigate, but far less interesting. It didn’t feature the Fairburn books. 2021 And now, here we are, forty years after I wrote those books. Will I finally manage to upload them all this time? Let’s find out…
If I’m going to do this at all, I’m going to do it right. And besides, I’m not uploading everything. Just most of it.
I haven’t finished it yet. It took me two and a half years to write the books in the first place. Writing about them is going to take even longer. You’ll know when I’ve finished it because I’ll remove this bit from the FAQ.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
These books:
Quite a bit for two and a half years.
WHAT IS THIS PAGE?
WHAT IS THIS WEBSITE?
WHAT BOOKS DO YOU MEAN EXACTLY?
THE HISTORY OF THE BOOKS
WHY SO MUCH STUFF? WHY NOT JUST GIVE US THE HIGHLIGHTS?
ARE THERE ANY MORE BOOKS?
BUT I DON’T SEE IT ALL. WHERE’S THE REST OF IT?
WILL YOU BE CONTINUING INTO 1982? 1987? 1995?
This page is an explanatory FAQ about this website. For information about its fifty-odd-year-old author, please see his other website. For information about the 7-year-old Waen Shepherd, click here. To read about Fairburn, try this page.
This website is a celebration and exploration of the books I wrote at school when I was a young boy living in a village called Fairburn in North Yorkshire, England, from September 1979 to February 1982, between the ages of 7 and 10. It features both the original things I wrote at the time and my thoughts about them looking back as an adult. Also a whole bunch of other stuff which hopefully sets a context in which we can understand what I wrote and why I wrote it.
30 School Exercise Books 8 English books 1 English Exercise book, which doubles up as English 9 1 History book, which doubles as a Science book 2 Geography books 2 Maths books (there were three, but I didn’t keep the first) 15 Topic books (they go up to No 16, but No 15 is missing) 1 extra book marked ‘Everything Book’ (covering ‘everything’ I did in my last couple of weeks at the school when all my other books were full) And these additional random items 1 Christmas-themed book written on posh school paper 1 essay written up in my best handwriting to go on the school notice board 3 short books I made at home 1 Easter card I made for my Mum and Dad 1 book of song lyrics, half of which were written in Fairburn
It depends what you mean. If you mean: did I carry on writing similar garbage after I left Fairburn? The answer is yes. But its character changed over time as I got older, so there’s continuity, but it’s not the same. If you mean: did I write anything else in Fairburn? The answer is definitely. But there’s zero chance of it ever turning up again.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Several reasons, chiefly: 1. I want to 2. I’ve always wanted to 3. The books are special to me 4. The books might, potentially, become special to someone else 5. I feel like I owe it to my childhood self 6. It would make him happy knowing more people have read his work 7. Making him happy makes me happy 8. Maybe that will make other people happy too Just to expand those last few points for a bit - I don’t know why anyone really wants to express themselves in public. We all do to some extent. But this website isn’t so much me expressing myself now as me interpreting the work of someone whose memories I inherited. I feel like I owe it to him to tell people about him and what he wrote. Even if it’s absolute top-tier garbage of the highest order. No. Especially if it’s absolute top- tier garbage of the highest order. Because no one writes garbage quite like he did. Which leads me into the other, more important, point. I only wrote so much of this rubbish because my teacher at the time, Mr Geraghty, had the insight to see that, when I had a spare moment - say, after finishing some other piece of work - I was always much happier and more productive writing and drawing than if I was just forced to sit there twiddling my thumbs. It wasn’t his regular solution for dealing with a classroom fidget and it wouldn’t be anyone else’s. At the next school I attended, I was strictly forbidden from doing anything above and beyond, instructed that, whenever I finished my work, I should sit there in silence doing absolutely nothing. And it was dire. I’ve no idea how many other kids in the early 1980s shared similar frustrations, but I doubt many of them had a Mr Geraghty to help them out. And of those that did, how many managed to fill so many Topic books? What I’m saying is, if these books aren’t unique, they must be pretty damn close. And yes. This is also a sad excuse for a middle-aged man to wallow in nostalgia. But hopefully I can share the joy. Hopefully I can provide a historical inisght into what it was like to be a white working class kid in 1980s Yorkshire. And hopefully therefore offer you something just a little bit different.
1979-1982 I wrote the books in Fairburn. 1987 Rediscovered them age 15 and found them utterly hilarious. As if they were written by a completely different person. Five years might not seem like long enough, but it’s almost a lifetime at that age. I remember this because I recorded myself reading out one of my Fairburn stories onto a tape. After which I stuffed them into a carrier bag (actually three carrier bags, but I didn’t notice that at the time), shoved them in a cupboard and forgot about them. 1998 Rediscovered the books yet again while on a trip back to my Mum’s house in Yorkshire. Read some to my wife, who found them utterly captivating. They reminded me of a time when I’d been much more creative, and somehow happier. Decided to take them back home to London for further study. 1999 Compiled some of the best stories into a makeshift book, with the hope of interesting a potential publisher. The main note that came back was that, to make it work as a collection, I’d have to provide some autobiographical detail, to set an appropriate context through which people might more easily be able to understand it. I published some of the stories on my own website but it didn’t last and, before long, I got distracted by a new career. 2000 Started making an animation called Origen’s Wake, based on a distorted version of my childhood. The setting was based on the council estate in Airedale I lived in till I was seven years old, but the story and the art style were inspired by the Fairburn books. Not to mention Grobschnitt. But you don’t know about him yet. 2001 Got commissioned to turn Origen’s Wake into a 12-minute pilot for Channel 4, which was broadcast as part of the Comedy Lab series. When it failed to get a series of its own, I got distracted by another new career. 2003 A comedy character I created called Gary Le Strange, based on the pop stars I listened to when I lived in Fairburn, won me the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe. At some point, I discovered yet another bunch of Fairburn books in a different carrier bag. But that wasn’t important right now. 2007 As Gary Le Strange wound down to a shuddering halt, I started reading out some of my Fairburn books live on stage, mainly at Robin Ince’s monthly Book Club gigs. They went down well, inspiring me to start writing the essential context I needed to make the books work as a whole story. But I soon realised the project would only work as either a hugely expensive hardbacked coffee-table book (which no one in their right mind would publish) or a massive sprawling website. At the end of the year, I discovered yet another batch of books in yet another carrier bag, but the whole thing was starting to seem like a monstrous obsession which might potentially engulf my life. 2010 I finally published some of my Fairburn stories on a massive sprawling website, complete with autobiographical essays and the beginnings of a timeline. It was good work, but too difficult to navigate and even harder to maintain. Plus it didn’t sit well alongside the other stuff on the site, making the whole thing unwieldy and confusing. Then smartphones happened, meaning it had to be restructured for viewing on a mobile phone. Then the company that made my website software decided to stop supporting it, so I took the site down and got distracted by another new career. 2020 Uploaded a brand new website which was more mobile friendly and easier to navigate, but far less interesting. It didn’t feature the Fairburn books. 2021 And now, here we are, forty years after I wrote those books. Will I finally manage to upload them all this time? Let’s find out…
If I’m going to do this at all, I’m going to do it right.
I haven’t finished it yet. It took me two and a half years to write the books in the first place. Writing about them is going to take even longer. You’ll know when I’ve finished it because I’ll remove this bit from the FAQ.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is very, very difficult.
These books:
Quite a bit for two and a half years.
An explanatory briefing for beginners
about this site
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy? (age 7)
WAEN SHEPHERD Who is this strange old man? (age 50)
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
ENGLISH 1 A few tentative steps into a world of terrible writing
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
Sheet Lightning Waen and his Gran shelter from the sheet- shaped storm
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
The Old Stone Age Ancient humans try to co-exist with cave lions and giant deer
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish