It can be quite amusing, and revealing, to find some of your work you did at school when you were nine to eleven years old. Sometimes the tricky bit is working out whether the younger you was making a joke or not — there seems to be too times for it all to be written straight…
Let’s start with some innocent stuff. I reproduce the pieces with spelling and grammatical mistakes intact.
If I Was Priminister
If I was Priminster it would be my job to keep my country clean of litter. A way that could be possible to stop people a little is to say it causes pollution. The law that says ‘If anyone found littering will be fined $200’ isn’t working.
Reading on, we have a story about a ‘Cashula’, which according to my drawing is a blue creature with tentacle-like arms, but its rather benign purpose is to tickle our protagonist Paul. Another boy, who is not ticklish, comes to see the Cashula but trips over a string, falls into a bucket with a broken bottom, takes a bump to the brain, and hence becomes ticklish. I have no idea what that means…
A later task was probably one that every school kid has to write about at some time: what would you want if stranded on a desert island?
My ten (or less or more) things I would have if stranded on a island are:
- pocket knife
- some rope
- a pet monkey to help me get the coconuts
- a hammer to smash the conconuts
- a friend
- my bed
- a cave for protection
- a net to catch fish
Distressingly practical apart from those coconuts!
The next one is also far too practical, and therefore completely misses the point of one aspect of what some would call a "good job"…
When I Grow Up
When I grow up I would like to be a scientist on rocks. A reason is because you can find rocks nearly everywhere in the world. That means it will be cheaper because I won’t go on many travels.
The accompanying picture also shows that, while I can never remember using it, that ‘Yahoo’ as a word existed long before it got monopolised by a portal (my geologist, as my third grade teacher notes is the correct term, has just found some rocks). Amusingly, I hated the geology course I did at uni, mainly because it was run by the science department who didn’t give a toss about what their engineering students actually needed to learn…
You sometimes got given some really uninspirational topics to write on. Take the next one, for example!
A pear is a yellow or green fruit in a shape I can not describe. They come in cans or normal [the teacher has inserted ‘fresh’ here], but I like it in cans best because it isn’t so squashy. Pears grow on trees, the most suitable place for them.
That last phrase cracks me up. Onto some more serious stuff!
The bushfires was worst at Cockatoo, even though it was fiercer at Lorne. The people can get into the sea to protect themselves. Hundreds of houses have been burnt down and about forty killed [dunno how a house can be burnt down without dying!]. Melbourne people complained but if they really want to complain then take them to Mount Macedon where the bushfires started at.
That last line is vintage television current affairs show material. Another piece follows this up, and is matter of fact until the grossly tactless final line.
A young couple who were to be married ten days later died in a bushfire at Cockatoo. They met this tragedy when they tried to find out if the woman’s grandfather was safe. They met a bushfire. So instead of a wedding there was a funeral.
Sometimes inspiration for writing came easily. The following was the result of a side-effect of a science experiment to form crystals.
It was a hot day. Suddenly a welcome word came to Ant City.
’Syrup!’ was the word that came from some scouts. They were joined by ants who had been half-starved for about a month.
’How far away?’
In less time it takes to say elephant, ants were coming into 4/5G [our classroom]. They went up a table leg, up a bottle, along a pencil and down a string. They started to gulp down syrup. Most sank after they were sprayed.
’In less time it takes to say elephant’?! Not sure where that one came from! More animals came shortly.
Seagulls are good looking and it is good to watch them glide. They are fresh and white. I like their faces.
All the same, they have harsh voices and won’t hesitate to grab a crust of bread. They snatch and they quarrel. It is such a pity because of their manners.
Betcha won’t see a better rap for those "unfortunate" scavengers elsewhere… the poor savages who can’t behave themselves!
The next piece had a great title, another tactless statement in the middle, and a really desparate search for a second reason.
Prince William is a Important Person
One reason is that he will be King someday, unless he dies before that, which would be unfortunate.
Another one is because of royalty. If he gets to be King it will be second from now.
The following story, for some reason, stuck in my head all these years. It arose from an exercise where we would each be given a photo from a large collection the teacher had, and we would have to use it as inspiration for a story, descriptive piece or other specified type of essay. In this case I got a photo of (I assume!) a fire truck and was told to come up with a story. Top marks for this piece when it comes to sledgehammer-impact foreshadowing.
It had been a hot day, and were fearing fire. Fortunely there was a fire station on Mathew St which was near the centre of the city.
On the day of the fire, a man came into the shop and said he wanted a chair that was perfect. Noticing a rip or something, he said ‘Get me a magnifying glass so I see whats wrong with the chair.’ The man returned. The customer looked through. Suddenly the sun went on it. The chair went on fire.
’Quick, go get the fire engine.’
’OK’ said the customer. He at once sprinted off. The owner went to get the kerosene and get it away. Feeling a sudden heat, he turned. The fire had blocked the door!
He tumbled out the window and just in time! BOOM!
Meanwhile, the firemen had arrived and were hosing the store with water. Finally the fire gave up. But all that was left now was ashes. And the firemen, the customer, and the owner went home to have a well-earned rest.
Not sure how the owner and customer earned that rest, though! More blunt language in the next short piece:
The flight’s aim was to set a communication satelite. It failed. The passengers [the teacher has replaced that with "astronauts" here] were Story Musgrave, Paul Weitz, Carol Bobco, and Donald Peterson.
A number of non-descript pieces follow this, but then we come up with a real corker. Read it in your best hard-boiled detective voice…
The Case of the Missing Cargo
I was having breakfast. Suddenly the teleophone rang. I picked it up and found that it was the police chief. He told me that cargo had been stolen and I was to go meet him at the wharf. I hurried over.
There I noticed a blue car with it’s boot tied and padlocked down. I grew suspisous. Was it the hidden cargo? But the officer said that it was someone’s suitcases.
Then I asked the officer when and where it had happened. He answered ‘There is nothing to suspect except one man was caught who had lately been sneaking about. He had a note. I have it here.’
’That mark,’ said the police chief ‘at the end is where we surprised him. He threw the note towards the "haul down" net. We then got it.’
’The net?’ I gasped.
’Yes, the net’ he replied.
’A sumbarine could collect it from the net. Get it? Quick, get 2 divers to dive in at Port Hanko. They could spot the robbers, give us the message, then we’ll arrest them,’ I said quickly.
For the next 2 hours I was busy. But at last they came. There was a fierce gun battle. Three robbers were killed. One was the boss. The ones alive then gave up. 2 policemen were also shot. One died. But at last the case was solved.
And I had rest, until the next case came.
I wonder what I was reading at the time to come up with that style. That note is a corker! This also marks the second story with the protagonists getting to rest at the end; not sure if that signifies anything!
Moving on, we find a seriously weird short story about biting off people’s hairy toes at a ‘thingery’. Don’t ask me!
Then there are pieces chronicling a day in the life of a postman (he earns $283.29 per week), rabid dogs, antelope vs lion commentary, an overly-elaborate method of fishing (basically involving a conical net suspended from a structure over the river) and several pieces on Catweazle (which is news to me, as I don’t recall ever watching it — and I should have remembered, giving Jon Pertwee played the title role).
It may not quite be the classic A Day in the Life of a Penny, but our final piece, for now, at least reminds us of a time when dollar coins were a novelty idea and not part of everyday life.
A Golden Dollar
Why? Some answers are that a coin lasts longer, doesn’t rip or burn, and you can hear it drop. Unfortunely, there are ideas that make them not so good. They are heavy and harder to put in wallets than paper. Save them, they will be worth more in the future!
This page last updated by David J Richardson on Wed, 8 Jan 2003.