In the early days I used to write regular blog posts but my basic idleness cut in. Then for a while, I posted stories, either stuff I’d just written for the sake of it or when I co-wrote 800-word stories with my good friend Eden Baylee, but then it all stopped. So, just to keep the site alive I suppose, I thought it might be an idea to post the occasional story from amongst all the hitherto (unseen by anyone else) stuff that was lurking in my files. There’ll be no theme or philosophy or advice or anything useful in them; they’re just for entertainment.
I’ll pick them at random and they may last for a while or this might be the only one before the idleness cuts back in. We’ll see. The first is one I wrote a couple of years or so ago. I called it…
“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” OK, everybody’s heard that. They don’t all know it was Aristotle who said it, but they’ve heard psychiatrists talking about it or seen TV programmes about it. And it’s true. The person we become when we grow up was already there in the kid we used to be. There are a few things I can remember from back then that prove it. Maybe not when I was seven, but certainly when I went to secondary school. And definitely when my mate Billy arrived. I was fourteen by then but that’s close enough for me.
He came when I was in second year and his house was on the way to school so I used to wait for him and we’d walk there together. He had a big influence on me. I haven’t seen him for years now but, back then, we spent all the time together. He was a Catholic, which was interesting because I wasn’t anything. I sang hymns and stuff at Boys’ Brigade and went to Sunday School, but Boys’ Brigade was just so that I could play football and Sunday School was because Pamela Biscombe went and I liked looking at her.
But Billy went to Mass, and confessed, and ate and drank Jesus every Sunday. Well, that’s the way I understood it at the time. It sounded brilliant. Sitting in the dark, making up stories for this shadowy priest behind a screen. Stories about all sorts of stuff, like touching Pamela Biscombe, or peeing in the classroom during playtime.
At the time I thought Billy said his father was a priest. It was only later that I realized it was the other way round. But what I think now isn’t important; it’s how we were then that matters for what I’m telling you.
Billy’s the reason I’m so successful in the magazine business. Well, not the reason but he helped me to write stuff, set me on the path, if you like.
The time I’m thinking of was when we had to write this essay for Miss Blore. Today they’d say she does Religious and Moral Education, then it was just called Scripture. We had to choose one of the seven deadly sins and write a story about it for her. She gave us a list of them and we had to find out about them and pick one. I had no idea where to start. No Google then, remember. It was all books, libraries, encyclopedias.
I was moaning about it to Billy on the way home, but he was a godsend (maybe literally). He knew the list already, knew what they all meant, too. So, the same evening, he came round to my house and we just talked about it. The trouble was, another thing Miss Blore had said was “Write about what you know”. So we went through the sins one by one to see whether I knew anything at all about any of them.
Sloth was easy. Boring, too. I did it all the time. Or, rather, I didn’t do it. It’s true, I think in those early days I was too idle even to be slothful. And nothing’s changed. Pride was the same. I couldn’t see how you could write an essay or a story about that. I mean, back then I didn’t really know what pride was, but my mum often used to tell me off about something, then say “I hope you’re proud of yourself”, so I suppose I must have known something.
Anyway, it didn’t take long to cross them off the list. The next one, Wrath, looked better but not much. I thought it just meant getting pissed off at something or somebody, but Billy said it also meant being vindictive, taking revenge, and I really liked that idea. So I reckoned I knew what that was and it sounded more promising. I could write something about when Miss Blore said those nasty things about me in front of the class and I got angry, but in the story I could maybe kill her. I’d change her name of course. Maybe make her a budgie or something and step on it.
The other four seemed easy on the surface. I thought I knew them, sort of. They were all the same really, all about wanting something. I said so to Billy.
“Envy’s just wanting what somebody else has got, isn’t it?’
“Well, yes,’ he said, “But…”
“And greed and gluttony are the same thing.”
Billy was shaking his head.
“No. They’re different,” he said. ‘Greed means wanting too much, but gluttony is actually taking too much.”
I thought about it for a moment and said, “So gluttony is sort of doing greed instead of just thinking about it. Is that right?”
Billy didn’t seem sure. But it seemed clear to me.
“Yeah, that’s it,” I said. “You start by being greedy and gluttony sorts it out for you. You want a piece of chocolate, so you eat the whole bar, or maybe two of them, and you’re not greedy any more. It’s been cured.”
Billy wasn’t sure. The priest (or his Father) had never said that.
The only one left was Lust and, I don’t know why, but that seemed to me the most interesting one. The others were just wanting, but Lust was… well, desire. You had to have it. I think I may have had it for Pamela Biscombe already. And when Billy said “Matthew says that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”’, I knew I had. I knew Lust was my best sin.
“So that means,” I said, “if you’re already guilty, you might as well do it”.
“Not really,” said Billy. “Dad, (or he might have said Father) says it’s about unspiritual not just sexual desires”.
But I’d already made up my mind.
“Listen,” I said. “Jesus died for our sins, right? Cross, crown of thorns, all that. That means these sins, we can just go ahead and do them.”
He protested, but I’d made up my mind. I went home, got out the photo of Pamela Biscombe which I’d cut out of the class photo and wrote about Lust. I was expelled.
Nowadays, they pay me big bucks for basically writing the same stuff. Thanks, Billy.