As a writer I’m no stranger to having my work rejected – it’s a part of the job. It may surprise you to learn though that the first time I hoped to gain on the strength of something I’d written, I hadn’t even started school. Before you form the image of a child prodigy, however, let me explain.
One weekday my grandma was looking after me while my mother was at work and my elder brother was at school. My brother came to Gran’s for his lunch and pretty soon after this my mother arrived on her lunch break too. As they were both up against the clock, she gave my brother a pork pie for convenience. My mouth watered at the sight of him eating the pie (for I ate such things back then) and I told Mam that I wanted one too. She said that she had only bought him one because he had to get back to school, and I would get a sandwich off my grandma later. I went into a mega strop about this, but then I hatched a plot that would see me tucking into golden pastry yet!
In those days a lot of people had tick accounts at their local shops, and even at that tender age I was no stranger to nipping to the shop at the corner with no more wherewithal than a note written by my mother. In money-free transactions I could obtain bread, milk, eggs and even cigarettes (usually 5 Player’s). I didn’t know how it worked but I was going to have a go at getting my fingers into the pie – literally.
Having sneaked into the bedroom with a pencil and a scrap of paper, I wrote a note in my illiterate hand and made for the shop. I handed the note to Eileen, the shopkeeper’s daughter, and as she opened it I watched her reaction closely. She let out a chuckle and then asked who had sent me with the note.
“My mam,” I said.
“And what does it say?”
She smiled and folded the note up then handed it back to me.
“Tell your mam she hasn’t spelled it properly,” she said and I carrried my little broken heart out of the shop.