English 1
The Cover The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s been drawn on. Though obviously pencil wasn’t a great choice for grey cardboard if I wanted my future self to be able to read it properly. My Photoshopping skills aren’t clever enough to make the pencil images clearer, but as far as I can make out: the top left features a Martian tripod firing a laser and saying something in Martian. Next to that is the “Mother Ship” from my Ward’s 7 stories (drawn in pen, which might have been a better idea from the start) and a voice saying “Good hit, Math!” (presumably to the character Matthew Bell). Underneath the ship is a picture of Sam Slade, Robo Hunter, saying “That’s S-L-A-Y-E-D to you!” Beneath the title is a future version of me, complete with beard, saying “English is the best work!” Underneath him are two baddies saying “Kill Waen!” and “Yes! Kill him!” Beneath them is a badly drawn face who thinks “Maths is awful!” To the right of him is a booted foot treading on a stick man (who appears to be saying “PUFF!”) and, finally, to the North-East of the boot, there’s a faded amorphous blob saying “Squirm!” To the right of that I can just about make out a few letters which appear to say “swot”. If that’s actually what they say, I seriously doubt it was me who wrote them, nor does it make much sense to call me that when I’ve just defaced my exercise book so liberally. The Contents The book runs from September 21st, 1979 to March 11th, 1980, covering my first term at the school and most of my second. The early pieces are pretty safe, the normal things a 7-going- on-8-year-old would write about: school trips and events, tales of bonfire night and what I did at the weekend, with only a couple of original adventure stories to indicate where we might be heading next. If that’s all the book was, I doubt I would have kept it. But when I returned to school after Christmas in January 1980, suddenly everything took off, and the Fairburn incarnation of Waen Shepherd was truly born. Maybe it was the immense haul of inspirational Christmas presents that did it - the Terran Trade Authority books I was given directly led to one story, the Micronauts led to another. Maybe it was the sudden influx of new ideas - a new series of Blake’s Seven directly inspired yet another series of tales. Perhaps it was the idea of the “new decade” - I remember thinking the 1980s would be the dawn of a new, futuristic age, and the culture around me seemed to reinforce that notion. Most of all though, it was the teacher, Mr Geraghty, who encouraged me to write. He could see I had ideas and the ability to put them into words, so he told me that, if I found myself at a loose end, I should write a story in my English book. As my second term progressed, this became an obsession and I found myself writing virtually every day, a habit which continued throughout my time at Fairburn School and, indeed, most of my life. (Though eventually the writing turned into music, but that’s a different story.) Another turning point happened when I returned from the half-term holiday towards the end of February 1980 and wrote two strange little stories about a pair of creatures called Apeth and Tedosaurus. Not only does this mark the beginning of my obsession with (bad) comedy, it’s also the first time I wrote about characters. Prior to this, my stories had either been about myself and my friends, characters invented by other people or ciphers without any real character traits at all. Apeth and Tedosaurus are not just names - they have faces, a backstory and even a distinctive way of speaking. It’s a shame I didn’t put this much effort into my other work. All this serious talk means I’m neglecting to mention how hilariously stupid this stuff is. Actually, I’ll qualify that - it’s the serious stories that are funny. The ones that are supposed to be funny are just weird. And that’s what makes these books - and this book in particular - so interesting to me. Though I do (sort of) remember being this person, I still find it unbelievable that I could, while trying to achieve the exact opposite, write something as perfectly funny as Move of the Galaxy, or as morbidly bizarre as Apeth. A few years ago, I went through a spate of reading these books out in public and they usually went down pretty well. As Robin Ince once said of me, “He’s been trying to write great comedy all his life, only to find out he wrote his best material when he was nine.” This book, being the earliest and therefore the least self-aware, might well be the funniest of the lot. But not the weirdest. We’ve a long way to go to reach that lofty height.
English 1, defaced in pencil
September 1979 - March 1980
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Great Space Battles Three mighty empires take their first steps into outer space
TOPIC 2 The one where it all kicks off
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
Waen Shepherd 2 Waen’s heroic antics in the far-flung future of 2007 AD!
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
Ward’s 7 John Ward and his band of rebels fight the evil Federation
The Fugitive A man runs - but who is he? And what is he running from?
The Flame in the Desert An evil fire threatens the safety of the world
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English 1
The Cover The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s been drawn on. Though obviously pencil wasn’t a great choice for grey cardboard if I wanted my future self to be able to read it properly. My Photoshopping skills aren’t clever enough to make the pencil images clearer, but as far as I can make out: the top left features a Martian tripod firing a laser and saying something in Martian. Next to that is the “Mother Ship” from my Ward’s 7 stories (drawn in pen, which might have been a better idea from the start) and a voice saying “Good hit, Math!” (presumably to the character Matthew Bell). Underneath the ship is a picture of Sam Slade, Robo Hunter, saying “That’s S-L-A-Y-E-D to you!” Beneath the title is a future version of me, complete with beard, saying “English is the best work!” Underneath him are two baddies saying “Kill Waen!” and “Yes! Kill him!” Beneath them is a badly drawn face who thinks “Maths is awful!” To the right of him is a booted foot treading on a stick man (who appears to be saying “PUFF!”) and, finally, to the North-East of the boot, there’s a faded amorphous blob saying “Squirm!” To the right of that I can just about make out a few letters which appear to say “swot”. If that’s actually what they say, I seriously doubt it was me who wrote them, nor does it make much sense to call me that when I’ve just defaced my exercise book so liberally. The Contents The book runs from September 21st, 1979 to March 11th, 1980, covering my first term at the school and most of my second. The early pieces are pretty safe, the normal things a 7-going-on-8-year-old would write about: school trips and events, tales of bonfire night and what I did at the weekend, with only a couple of original adventure stories to indicate where we might be heading next. If that’s all the book was, I doubt I would have kept it. But when I returned to school after Christmas in January 1980, suddenly everything took off, and the Fairburn incarnation of Waen Shepherd was truly born. Maybe it was the immense haul of inspirational Christmas presents that did it - the Terran Trade Authority books I was given directly led to one story, the Micronauts led to another. Maybe it was the sudden influx of new ideas - a new series of Blake’s Seven directly inspired yet another series of tales. Perhaps it was the idea of the “new decade” - I remember thinking the 1980s would be the dawn of a new, futuristic age, and the culture around me seemed to reinforce that notion. Most of all though, it was the teacher, Mr Geraghty, who encouraged me to write. He could see I had ideas and the ability to put them into words, so he told me that, if I found myself at a loose end, I should write a story in my English book. As my second term progressed, this became an obsession and I found myself writing virtually every day, a habit which continued throughout my time at Fairburn School and, indeed, most of my life. (Though eventually the writing turned into music, but that’s a different story.) Another turning point happened when I returned from the half-term holiday towards the end of February 1980 and wrote two strange little stories about a pair of creatures called Apeth and Tedosaurus. Not only does this mark the beginning of my obsession with (bad) comedy, it’s also the first time I wrote about characters. Prior to this, my stories had either been about myself and my friends, characters invented by other people or ciphers without any real character traits at all. Apeth and Tedosaurus are not just names - they have faces, a backstory and even a distinctive way of speaking. It’s a shame I didn’t put this much effort into my other work. All this serious talk means I’m neglecting to mention how hilariously stupid this stuff is. Actually, I’ll qualify that - it’s the serious stories that are funny. The ones that are supposed to be funny are just weird. And that’s what makes these books - and this book in particular - so interesting to me. Though I do (sort of) remember being this person, I still find it unbelievable that I could, while trying to achieve the exact opposite, write something as perfectly funny as Move of the Galaxy, or as morbidly bizarre as Apeth. A few years ago, I went through a spate of reading these books out in public and they usually went down pretty well. As Robin Ince once said of me, “He’s been trying to write great comedy all his life, only to find out he wrote his best material when he was nine.” This book, being the earliest and therefore the least self-aware, might well be the funniest of the lot. But not the weirdest. We’ve a long way to go to reach that lofty height.
English 1, defaced in pencil
September 1979 - March 1980
TOPIC 1 Sept-Dec 1979
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
Waen Shepherd 2 Waen’s heroic antics in the far-flung future of 2007 AD!
Ward’s 7 John Ward and his band of rebels fight the evil Federation
The Fugitive A man runs - but who is he? And what is he running from?
The Flame in the Desert An evil fire threatens the safety of the world
Florence Nightingale What if Florence Nightingale had lived in the Year 2000?
HELP ME KEEP THIS WEBSITE ALIVE