English Creative Writing
For their GCSE examination, one of the writing tasks that students are often asked to do is to recount and reflect on an experience for example Write about a time when you, or someone you know, needed help.
As part of their preparation, the Year 11 GCSE group were given an introduction and reflection on an experience which had happened to their English teacher and had to write, in thirty minutes, an account of the event itself. Here is one students response to this writing challenge:
The introduction given to them:
As a mother you know that there will be many times during their young lives when your children need your help; it is not so much Superman as Supermum who is needed on these occasions as they progress from being babies to teenagers and finally to supposedly being grown up enough to leave home. The demand for help may come via a frantic call from your son who has run out of money and
needs you to IMMEDIATELY go online and transfer some, otherwise he won’t eat for a day, or from your toddler who has spilt their orange juice all over Great Aunt’s new suit which has to be dry cleaned! However the time I remember most is the one I shall call “Abandoning the bucket.” Why, you may ask? I will take you back in time fourteen years to being on a beach in Cornwall in winter.
Tajasvi Dhar continued this account as follows:
We’re leaving the troubled beach in the quickest way possible, Kate, who I refused to let go after the terrifying incident that had just taken place, held tightly in my grasp. Alex, who was stumbling behind me, carried the book that had momentarily taken my attention. I look up and see the dark grey clouds hover above me like the haunting memory of Kate’s hand slipping out of mine. I strap Kate into the back seat with effort. She screams, fights and pleads to go back, back to the beach where it all started.
I had been uncomfortably perched on some rocks with a book about dogs. It was fairly interesting I suppose but I’m still not quite sure why I decided to read it on a cold wintery afternoon. I look up to make sure Alex and Kate are safe and happily engaged. I see Alex making sandcastles and playing with the pebbles surrounding him. I can see Kate in the distance prancing around in her new pink polka dot wellies with her mottled blue bucket tightly held against her small body – the coast is clear, yet only moments later I decide to take another look at Kate...
I see Kate stumble over and find it hard to regain her balance. Is that what I think it is? “Kate, are you okay? Please get out of the water; I think it’s time to go home now...” Kate doesn’t reply. My uncertainty seems to be growing. Alex shouts back, “Mum, I don’t think Kate can get out of the water”. Looking back, it felt as though the ground had been pulled from under me. I could feel the sore lump in my throat; it burned. My palms were sweaty. I had exploded into a ball of panic. I sprinted towards Kate and instantaneously grabbed hold of her before the daunting riptide swept her away. In the process Kate’s favourite bucket slipped out of her hand. You see, Kate suffers from
Aspergers Syndrome, so once she gets attached to something, it means everything to her. Kate was screaming, an ear-piercing scream, for me to let her go, so she could grab the beloved bucket that was slowly drifting away.
She begged, pleaded and fought. I could see her eyes well up with tears; my arms were growing more tired by the second. Even though he was only five years old, I needed Alex’s help and I needed it fast. We finally managed to rescue Kate, but in the process we lost Kate’s beloved mottled blue bucket. I don’t think she has forgiven me to this day!
The conclusion given to the students. Looking back, I must admit that the situation my daughter found herself in was partly my fault; I should have kept a more careful check on the incoming tide and I should have been more understanding about how she felt about her precious bucket. At the time I was just so relieved that she was safe and focussed on getting us all back safely to the cottage where we could change out of our wet clothes and get warm by the fire.
A recreative response to “Taming of the Shrew” is an option for students of AS Literature. In the play Sly, a drunkard, has been the victim of a practical joke played upon him by a Lord who found him in an alcohol induced sleep, dressing him up to make him believe he is a nobleman. Here, Anna imagines what would happen when Sly returns to the local tavern run by Mistress Hacket who had thrown him out for not paying his debts. It is written from the perspective of a serving maid.
It is impressed upon my memory the night Mistress Hacket returned with the officer, ranting about disappearing debtors “carried away by demons on the air”. I doubt anyone could have lifted the heavy drunkard and he’d been in such a stupor, it’s unlikely he’d have staggered far before collapsing. Perhaps he was possessed by a devil that makes puppets of human bodies when human minds rest.
Then, evening three days later, a figure in a dark cloak swept into the house accompanied by a frozen gust which rattled the decor and sent shivers down our customers’ spines. The figure tramped across the floor in heavy leather boots and stood before me as I, behind the bar, pulled down another glass for our newcomer.
‘What will it be?’ asks I.
‘My regular,’ he replies.
‘I beg your pardon, sir,’ I say, ‘but I do not recognise your face.’
‘Don’t you?’ says he and he flings down the hood of his cloak. And, would you believe, it was Mr Sly! Albeit several shades less brown and dressed better than before, there was no mistaking that crafty grin. There was a murmur of general amazement, for Mistress Hacket had spread the rumour that Mr Sly was dead, or thereabouts (“and if he ain’t, he will be if ever he returned to our establishment,” she’d said) so to see him appear looking no worse for wear was something to consider. He glanced around the house with that wide grin before exclaiming, ‘a round to everyone,’ to the general cheer of the room. I was busy serving for the next few minutes, too busy to ask Mr Sly where he’d been, what he’d been doing and where he’d gotten such finery. I knew the Sly before, and I could see now he had a new belt at his waist, a heavy purse attached, and something around his neck, to add to the cloak and boots already noted. He was central in the crowd, shaking the hand of his fellow drinkers and laughing at his new fortune.
A hand slammed down on the tabletop and the room fell silent. Mistress Hacket had come to see what was causing such a fuss in the house.
‘So,’ she hisses, eyes fixed on Sly, ‘you’ve come crawling back. Cicely! Didn’t I order you never to serve the rogue until he’s paid what he already owes! Til that debt’s been paid he can’t afford no more. Fetch the thirdborough! This man deserves nought but a pair of stocks.’
‘Hang about!’ Sly exclaims as I hang my head in shame. I do indeed recall that Mistress Hacket did order I do not serve Sly until he has paid, but in the astonishment of his reappearance, the order had been quite forgotten.
‘Hang about!’ Mr Sly repeats, hand reaching for the purse, ‘I have your gold and more besides.’ He undoes the strings and upends the purse’s contents onto the countertop, his eyes fixed on Mistress Hacket. Copper spills across the woodwork, more pennies that I have seen in my life. ‘Here’s your money, you ungrateful witch! A lord graces you with his presence, honours you with his cash, and you stand and demand more of him!’
A roar of laughter exploded in the house, Mistress Hacket and I included in the uproar. ‘When were you any higher than the rest of us?’ Mistress Hacket demands, when she has her breath back, ‘what delusions have you envisioned since you left last?’ ‘I swear truth!’ Sly protests, ‘for fifteen years, I been delirious in bed with belief that you exist! I believed myself a fool when I were really Lord of much wealth and husband of a beauteous woman. Silence descended upon the house as they all looked on in amazement. They all took in the rich cloak, the clean clothes, the boots, the belt and the purse. Only I note the cord around his neck, at the end of which hung a single golden coin.
‘‘Tried to take it off me,’ he says, ‘but I’m smart. I’m sly. Kept this hidden somewhere they didn’t dare touch. This is mine now. This is my proof of me being a lord.” ‘Throw him out!’ Mistress Hacket orders, ‘let the cold wake the drunkard up!’ and so Sly was bundled out into the freezing winds and heavy raindrops. ‘That’s more of my glass he’s burst, more money to be owed. He may have gone to heaven or to hell but neither has changed him.’ Mistress Hacket turned to leave when she noticed me crouched beneath the bar. ‘What you doing down there?’
‘Wondering if this would cover the debt,’ I reveal to her Mr Sly’s cloak, boots, belt and purse carefully pinched from the drunken man.
Mistress Hacket laughed. ‘That will do,’ she said happily, gathering up his belongings and carrying them through to the back. But not the singular golden coin. That’s mine now: my gold, my treasure. You can come again, your lordship; whether you escaped from heaven or from hell, from reality or from a dream, you can come again!