The idea for this came from an exercise from the course work book in creative writing – write non-stop from memory without any editing. It’s no use on its own however, though could have a role in a history, for handing down. So how to make a short story out of it? The information is around auntie Gladys and her immediate family – my dad’s sister.
Call her Blodwen for the time being. Take care with some of the facts as they may not be too palatable to some.
The salient story. Brother and older sister, born into traditional W Yorks family – retail traders, small business, live over the shop. Pretty much ‘seen and not heard’ attitude to children, caring etc. but followed the trend in child rearing of their day. Father went off to and came back from WW1, kids born either side. Brother marries, sister doesn’t. Does she have any boyfriends – we don’t know. As far as we can tell her character is about traditional values, working and living with her family. How to show that?
First major change – she moves out and works as an assistant for a photographer or engraver in town. Has her own place – is this virtually unheard of – maybe not during the war period, maybe it was easier. A useful occupation during the war – printing maybe. A feasible occupation anyway with which to move out and work for someone else – do they have a relationship? Bound to, but leave it assumed rather than spelled out.
Brother goes off to WW2. Returns to sister cohabiting with a bloke and one of his sons – say 11 or 12 years. Major departure for Blodwen – or is it? Edward, the bloke is hard to motivate but talented, a pianist and amateur photographer. Earned his living as a chef. He comes into the business. Owner dies. She packs him off to night school to learn the printing business. Dominant. Son follows him into business, as does wife. It’s a potential dynasty. He’s the art and she’s the business.
They don’t have children of their own. Son and wife have a son. Edward remains married, there is another son who lives away with neither Edward/Blodwen nor his mother. He appears from time to time, a source of trouble.
The business has to move, changes and declines. They sell. They die. Son moves to mundane job, divorces. Grandson lives with him.
What is the point of this? Grandson remains a loner, no girlfriends, good singer, takes up professionally, teaches. Into his thirties – Blodwen born in 1912 say. Next generation born in late 1930’s, early 40’s (boomers after 1945), grandchildren came around 1970’s. Say he’s 35. Moved away, teaching and singing. Headlines – dismissed for having sex with pupils, not national. Imprisoned.
The narrator reads all this in the 2000’s and begins to patch together how this could have happened. Or narrator attends funeral of Blodwen – things are said. There is life before and after, the before patched together, the after lived by the narrator up to the headline. How do you produce a paedophile? Is there something to do with being abused during your own childhood. Generations of abuse sometimes – is this the final paragraph?
So it’s a story of how someone subverts their upbringing, albeit with the help of a war. Still need to be strong and stubborn. Admirable. But the dark side, hinted at, explored, never comes out in full, but how do you make a paedophile?
Edward is wounded in the war – he needs some sort of support for his back and .s.08perineum. How does he get it off? We don’t know. Is Blodwen just in it for platonic reasons? I don’t think so. One boy lives with them, the other is wayward, a drifter. Why? Millions of reasons, but could it be the early experiences of abuse (mother or father? I don’t know). Does Blodwen know? Who abuses the grandson? The wayward drifter, father, Blod – who knows?
The narrator can’t be Dyce – had enough of him.
The basics are here – first draft done 4.2.08
2 themes – (1) the extent that anyone knows what is going on and not only to individuals get dementia, but the family memory goes unless a determined effort is made to keep it going.
(2) subverting the expected – Blodwen going against parents and moving in with a married man with children seeking own happiness. Arthur following the party line to make others happy first.
The narrator is right – there is a young arthur and a mature arthur. Different voices. Younger is the primary schoolboy and the medical student. Older narrator is unreliable in other stories still is at the funeral. Perhaps wiser at the finish.
The plot points are in order.
Things to work on
locations and the senses.
relationship between arthur, blod and their own father – the family culture
particular closeness with father and daughter – business acumen, anything else ?
relationship between arthur and his father/older brother
some details about child abuse – ? are they always abused as children
arthurs 2 voices.