Father Christmas

This was part of an exercise designed such that you would write about children.

Unfortunately I have very limited experience with children and apparently it showed. My lack of understanding was about the level that children think at.

From my perspective a child has reasonably little awareness of a world outside of their head. My limited understanding stemmed from the way parents treat children.

Parents insist upon holding a child’s hand (because children have no idea an oncoming car can kill them).

Parents tend to keep children close to them (because children can’t survive alone).

Parents escort children everywhere (because children are unable to do anything by themselves).

So I had the impression that prior to a certain age a child’s perspective was skewed by what was inside the child’s head.

The feedback I received was that the story was unrealistic as the child would not be this naïve.

That shows how little I know.

This underlines the idea that you should try to write about things that you know – or do your research well.

After this I’ve pretty well decided that using children as characters is not going to be something that I’m great at. So probably has no future in the things that I write.

The following therefore is probably only of interest in terms of an example of what not to do.

Story

“Can I have a puppy Mummy? Can I?  I want a puppy because I don’t have a puppy”.

“Timmy be quiet can’t you see I’m talking?”

Mummy was talking very loud.  Mummy is loud if I am naughty.  I think the man must have been naughty.  I hid behind Mummy’s legs.

Mummy was very upset –the back of her hand went white.  My hand hurts when she holds it so tightly.

“Mummy, Mummy let go, I want to play”.

I looked down at my new shoes.  The little lights in the sides came on as I was walking.  I was stamping my shoes and trying to see the lights come on.

I wondered if the strange man had sweeties.  “Hello” I said from behind Mummy’s legs.

The man bent down and looked at me.  He was very dirty, he had strange-looking hair with leaves in it.

“Mummy he smells funny”

Mummy pulled my hand suddenly – it really hurt – I was crying.  Mummy was talking very loud now.

The man had Mummy’s handbag.  Perhaps he wanted to buy me presents?  Sometimes Mummy buys me presents when she has that bag.

Mummy said that Father Christmas would come with presents. Perhaps this man was Father Christmas? He had a wrinkly hairy face.

“Mummy has Father Christmas got me a present?”

“Timmy if you don’t shut up I’ll give you a thick ear, understand?”

Mummy took me to see Father Christmas before; he wasn’t like this Father Christmas.  When I went to see Father Christmas before he was shiny, red and happy, he didn’t smell like this man.

I saw another Father Christmas in a shop today.  Maybe there are lots of Father Christmas’s?  Perhaps I get more presents if there are lots of Father Christmas’s?

“I want a present, I want a present”.

Mummy turned around and smacked me.  I started crying.  I felt hot and tired

Mummy was very angry now; she was really shouting – her arm had gone stiff and my hand was really hurting.

People were standing still watching me.  They must have known that I was with Father Christmas.

It was very quiet now.  Mummy was not shouting.  A shiny car was there; it was white and had funny lights.

The lights on my shoes are red, these lights were blue, they were very high, I watched them go round and round.

A really big man was talking to Mummy.  He had very dark clothes on; he was scary.  He had a shiny belt on; I was watching the long stick on that belt.  Billy has a stick like that; he got it for his birthday.  I don’t think I could have played with this stick.  Billy has a puppy, it was all floppy and sleepy – I don’t think Father Christmas had my puppy.

The big man put Father Christmas in his shiny car.

“Mummy can I go with Father Christmas?”

“NO Timmy you can’t”.

Mummy didn’t have hold of my hand now. I jumped in next to Father Christmas.

“Father Christmas, can I have a puppy?”

 

 

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Narrative Vs Dialogue

Two stories both on the same subject to show the effects of Narrative vs. Dialogue.

From a course I did so long ago now that I can’t remember the context.

They’re here purely for your enjoyment and with no other explanation.

I hope that you like them.

Narrative

Elizabeth was a fool Jane knew it. They hadn’t been friends for twenty years without the realisation that Elizabeth was a weak-headed, softhearted, naïve fool.

Didn’t she, the mother have the greater insight into the workings of her daughters?

There were the startling, the mediocre and the downright alarming. Rebecca, the eldest – she had always been the exceptional one. Always knowing what she wanted to do. She planned her wedding for the best weekend of the year, a marvellous dress, a fantastic husband.

Then there was Ruth. Jane could feel the anger like a tiny pricking sensation already starting, just thinking about her.

Ruth, yes – she’d warned her – with every one of the dropout wasters she’d hung around with (and taken to bed) she’d warned her.

Now she was pregnant,, of course she hadn’t taken the time to tell her own mother, oh no.

A hasty wedding in October – at a registry office, a rush job at minimal expense – well this guy Richard was hardly the high-flyer, not like Rebecca’s husband.

Ruth had made a bad choice and it was obvious why. It was just to spite her mother. They’d never seen eye to eye and now she had chosen the one thing that she knew would really hurt.

Jane took pride in her family – liked to think that she’d instilled in them some old-fashioned values.

Rebecca had never hung around town late at night picking up boys – and what boys. The latest one had a tongue piercing – and a dotted line tattooed across his neck with a small pair of scissors labelled “cut here”.

What kind of guy was he this Richard? She doubted very much that Ruth even knew him very well. She knew he had a motorbike and was the sort of guy that Jane would despise. Jane would never welcome him into the family.

How better to hurt her mother than to marry him? Well it worked; all the years of spite and angst could not equal what she was doing this time.

If only Ruth wasn’t such a stubborn, wilful girl, she wouldn’t be dragging the family down in this way. Jane wished, not for the first time that she could disown her.

It was bad enough that she’d found them “at it” in her own bathroom but then to go and marry him? It was too much.

So what was Elizabeth going on about? The loose-minded woman. No doubt, she saw Ruth as another hard-luck case like an abandoned puppy or something.

No, Ruth had a lot of learning left and she, Jane was not going to shield her from any of it.

Dialogue

“Isn’t it the most perfect day Jane” Elizabeth gushed, her brow furrowed in concern.

“It’s October Elizabeth, who ever heard of a wedding in October? I may as well look around for thermal underwear” Jane was at her most caustic today. “Now, Rebecca, Rebecca; there’s a girl with sense, a June wedding, very sensible”

“As I recall Jane, you moaned all day that it was too hot and you were suffering from sunburn,” said Elizabeth archly.

“Hmmph well at least I didn’t have to go there looking like an Eskimo – it’s so unattractive.”

Elizabeth sighed inwardly and tried again “The weather is unseasonably warm Jane. Anyway I’m told the registry office is centrally heated”

“Office, yes office, why not a church?”

Elizabeth decided on a change of tack “Did you see the dress though Jane? She will look beautiful”

“I didn’t want to see it, it’s not as though it’s a wedding dress or anything. There won’t be a train or walking up the aisle will there?”

“I guess as long as she’s happy though?” Elizabeth’s voice squeaked with the effort of maintaining diplomacy.

“Happy, happy, what kind of selfish attitude is that? I give it six months, that’s all, six months”

“Richard seems a very nice lad” Elizabeth was tiring of the fight.

“If you don’t count the tongue piercing and the tattoos of course.”

“They all have those now I think”

“Well he isn’t tolerant enough for Ruth that’s for sure. I don’t think he’s had half enough time to realize what a vicious little wildcat she can be”

“What makes you think that, Jane? What evidence do you have?” Elizabeth, by now beaten decided to go with the flow.

“I’ll tell you why – she’s been going round like some old slapper. Mike last year, Derek six months ago and now Richard. Is it any surprise that she’s pregnant?”

Elizabeth gasped, “That’s a vicious thing to say, you’ve no evidence at all for that statement”

“Oh, come on, don’t be so naïve, she’s been hanging around him like a bitch in heat” Jane snapped.

“How can you say that about your own daughter?”

“You just have to look at her for God’s sake, how many brides do you know actually put on weight for their wedding?”

“I think you’ll find the dress size is exactly the same now as when she ordered it Jane.” Elizabeth was sounding exasperated. “You can’t just treat your daughter in this way Jane, you can’t. It will come back to haunt you if you do.”

Jane glared at her stubbornly “I have five daughters, Elizabeth, five and have any been so awful to me as this one? I don’t think so.”

“Ruth is a lovely girl, Jane, surely you see that” said Elizabeth, tears by now gleaming in her soft brown eyes.

Jane’s gaze was grey and piercing “I tell you, for all the pain this one has brought me, I wish I only had four daughters.”
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