Attempting to make it as a writer

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Generation Gap

It is half term holiday and we are away on a very family orientated holiday in the Lake District.  It isn’t the holiday of my choice but we are celebrating Grandad’s significant birthday which occurs at the end of the week.   We have managed to assemble three generations of family to a holiday park on the edge of Lake Windermere where we have a cottage, a lodge, a boat and a B&B for a fluid party of approximately 20 people.  There are friends and extended family passing through for a couple of days here or there and the odd acquaintance picked up as they pass through.

Having spent months planning and working out beds, we were slightly thrown when no 1 Son’s slightly older equivalent cousin announced he was bringing a young lady with him and they would not sleep on the boat and wanted a bed.   It was an even bigger surprise when I greeted their arrival at the cottage with Grandad only to discover Mad Aussie Aunt had flown over as a surprise for her brother’s party and also needed a bed.

The allocated boat beds are popular with the youngsters but the responsible adults are not as forthcoming in their enthusiasm.  Having decided on the adult for the night that leaves their bed space free but limited to who can utilise the shared half.

Four days in and the generation gap is widening into a large crack.   It was always going to be treading on broken glass difficult with the different characters confined under a few roofs but it was not the younger generation I thought would be so far apart.  Is this a reflection on my increasing years or the teenagers of today?  Sexy Sporty Dad and his brother El Capitan arrived laden down with goodies and food for the week.  Grandad and lady friend arrived with food and goodies, whilst Mad Aussie Aunt has bought food and lots of duty free to keep us going.

Our children cannot be expected to contribute to the food or costs as they are not working but it has been a wake-up call to hear what they expect out of this holiday.  They expect to have the best bedroom with the ensuite bathroom.  They are first at the table to help themselves to the prime cuts and treats on offer, plates piled high with as much as their wide eyes can picture, never mind those coming behind and there might not be enough.    They want their infernal noise (can I hear an echo of my mother) on all the time.  They insist on daytime TV, night time TV and every other time TV and what is so frightening, they know all the programs inside out, is this all they do!  Not one of them has picked up a book or initiated a conversation.

A collective tantrum of teenagers took place at the pub we took them all too for a meal when there was no ice cream included in their meal.     Stamping around, challenging the staff as it was on the old menu card left on one of our tables and demanding with menaces (if you don’t give in we won’t talk to you ever again – oh the temptation!)

When I was growing up; the one or two rare occasions I was taken to any kind of eating house I would have been so grateful for the treat and in awe at all around me, I would never have dreamed of answering my parents back let alone in such a disrespectful way.   Grandad’s generation didn’t have pubs or restaurants to visit and having lived through the austerity of war rationing are still thankful for what is now available and they can afford.

We had a BBQ for 26 people yesterday.  It was a sight to see the parents and the ancients sharing a kitchen and producing a veritable spread for all to enjoy.   The equipment might have been lacking but combining what was available with a lot of make-do and imagination we got there.   The youngest generation watched telly, a couple of them got up to play football.   When asked to help carry something out or clear something away you would have thought we’d asked them to go on a suicide mission into the underworld.

It must be nice to live in a time when you put no effort in but expect all the time, where if something is not right it is always someone else’s mistake and problem to fix and most of all to live in a world that surrounds me and only me.   The problem with this modern world, I feel, is when do you get to experience that wonderful warm inner glow that comes with doing something for someone else, or the achievement of watching someone else do well and benefit from your hard input.  I worry about the future if we all revolve around ourselves can the earth survive?

It would be nice if the youngsters in our party remember whose party it is, instead of the ancients having to make all the sacrifices.  All their lives they have made do, haven’t they now earned the right to a little help and respect.

Happy Birthday Grandad


Ps  if you check out Readers Digest  and look for Tuesday 31 May – Go Middle Son Go!

Pipped to the Post

“I don’t believe it”

My eyes were drawn to an email in my inbox yesterday from Reader’s Digest.  It was not spam and as I have sent in articles to them in the past it was not a name I was unfamiliar with.  However this one stood out as it had FAO Middle Son – 100 Word Story as its subject.

Some months ago I entered the Readers Digest 100 word competition.  The story had to be sharp and to the point but only 100 words; no more: no less.   I worked hard at this, I would struggle normally to write so few words.  Each word had to impart a mountain of information and each word was carefully constructed to try to convey the essence of a whole different world to the reader.

I even managed to coax Sexy Sporty Dad to read a few of them and on one occasion drew out comments of real use which I used.  Finally happy that I could not refine them any more I took the plunge and sent 6 of them off to the Reader’s Digest.

Middle Son showed a flickering of teenage interest in what I was doing and when told he replied “I could do that – it’s easy”.

I went to great lengths to show him the web-site and tell him there was a children’s competition running at the same time.


The moment had gone, curiosity abandoned, I challenged him. If he thought he could do the same then go on.


Then I mentioned a prize.   The ears opened up; the hair flicked from the face; an imprint of possible interest flashed through his eyes.   What could he spend his money on?  When would he get it?  Could he use the vouchers for BMX shopping?

He disappeared and within moments typed and produced a succinct little story called Kiss; something way beyond his usual casual thrown together homework attempt on a subject I hoped he still had no experience of.   It was good.  I would go so far as to say it was brilliant.  A couple of grammatical changes and it was perfect. I sent it off under his name to the appropriate aged category.

Months passed and we heard nothing.   The latest copy of the magazine had the winning three stories in.  The adult one was good, very good but I think some of mine could give it a run for its money.  The 11 – 18 story was good, quite sad but well put together by a young 17 year-old. Middle Son’s was as good; in my opinion at least!

Then I get the email, out of the blue saying:

Many thanks for sending in your 100-word story to our recent competition. Unfortunately, you didn’t win one of our top prizes, but we loved your tale. We received over 8,000 entries, so have picked some of our favorites to post on the website, and were hoping to put your story online at the end of the month

Years of getting up early, reams and reams of unpublished stories, battles of self-confidence and is it good enough, yet not one of my six stories made it.  Looking at the web site they are publishing one story each day; some are adult stories and some are the children’s ones.  He is at 13 a published writer.   Something for his CV!


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