When I was a little girl, aged around 5, our teacher asked our small class to write down what we wanted to be when we were older. It was a simple task, but I hadn’t given it any thought before that time. I can remember this moment vividly because it caused me so much distress. I chewed my pencil, I got really, really upset, and I cried.
The world was so vast. While my classmates were scribbling down Fireman, Astronaut, Teacher, and the like, I stared at my blank page. I remember the teacher walking around the room, stopping by each child, chatting happily. This was supposed to be a light, easy task. There seemed to be so much pressure to choose right in that moment.
The teacher stopped by my desk, to help console me, “Why don’t you be a writer? You’re very good at that”, she said and patted my head. It was the days when teachers could pat your head. It was also the days when the Headteacher would give you a Cola Cube if you were sent to his office for good work. Incidentally, if the famous Cola Cube jar was empty, he would give you 20p and send you off to the local shops to replenish his supply. Being sent to the shops by Mr Dennington, was better than getting a gold star. It showed he trusted you, not only with the money, but the responsibly of leaving the school and picking up the sweets. These were such important life lessons, and for a scrappy little thing like me, cheeky to a fault, being entrusted with anything was a really big deal.
Anyway, the writer suggestion fell on deaf ears. I did not want to be a writer. Writing was boring. I could fly in spaceships, aeroplanes, travel the world, see the world, I was hardly likely to be a writer. Not when there were so many fabulous careers to choose from. As I couldn’t pick, and time was pressing on, I had to reluctantly write down “Writer”, but I did it with the heavy heart of a 5 year old. The same kind of heavy heart you got when the ice-cream van merrily scooted off down the road, just as you’d come back out into the streets with your 25p.