I’ve been leading, or tutoring, a Creative Writing workshop the last two Tuesday nights and there are four more to come. After the first week two of the original twelve dropped out and a new member arrived. The new member said, ‘Hmm, you’ve lost two after just one week?’ I could see how she might be thinking so I said, ‘Yes, hmm, indeed, but I don’t think it was that scary,’ and then I appealed to, what were by now the ‘original ten,’ to back me up. There was a general nodding of assent: it wasn’t that scary.
I did an Art A Level at the local technical college at a night class in the early nineties. It took two years to complete and I missed about five weeks running in the first term. I was busy with work and I’d given up on it, really, but then the teacher phoned me one evening when I should have been there and asked me had I given up on it really. I didn’t like to admit to this fact so I said, No! and returned the next week. Without that phone call I’d never have got into Art School: that A Level was my calling card. Without that night school teacher I’d never have written any books. That one phone call was it, and when I think back on it I’m sure she called me to try to keep the pupil numbers up to whatever the minimum was so that the course stayed open. There weren’t many of us by the time the exams came round. You had to take three days out of your own time for that too, it being art. I remember liking that a lot. It was like being a real student, being at night school in the day time.
My final A Level work was only so so; I did a monochrome painting of a fisherman’s rowing boat on its side that I’d seen in Lowestoft, that was probably the best piece. I heard someone say that it ‘held together as a composition.’ And then, because I had done a project on August Macke, I did a painting of a hat shop window, based on this work of his below. I like the shading in column on the right. Macke died age 27 in the front at Champagne, in the second month of the First World War; battle isn’t the usual association with that part of France.