Juvenilia: 16th September 1996

On their 6music radio show some time last year Adam and Joe asked listeners to send in stories and poems which were penned during childhood. These efforts—dubbed “Juvenilia”—were then read out and generally marvelled at due to their ingenuity and inventiveness. Some of my favourites were a book of poetry called “Say it with Snails”, an Arnold Schwarzenegger magazine, and a mildly racist comic strip called “Judge Fred”. I think they put some of them up on their website.

Anyway, I say this by way of introduction to my own little piece of recently discovered juvenilia, “Escape from Fort-Socks”—a swashbuckling adventure yarn committed to paper by the fresh-faced 11-year-old boy that I once was. Remarkably, the (unedited) extract below is only 1/5 of the total story, and as far as I can make out, serves as the introductory chapter to the tale at large. I can still vaguely recall writing the thing, although my (slightly worrying) logic for calling the protagonist “Beer Garden” currently escapes me.

It seems I wasn’t much of a speller, and I appear to take a pretty cavalier attitude to grammar much of the time too (particularly in the final paragraph, which descends into a blitz of Joycean experimentation) …

Escape from Fort-Socks (extract)

It was a dark misty night, search lights scoured the pale, green grass at a rapid speed. Fort Socks is a high security jail in Dunstable. Down in the celler there are four brave men and their leader is the man called Beer Garden. Beer Garden is a brave warrior and will stop at nothing to get the plans back to Slinsil. There are two countries seperated by a river, Krasnir and Slinsil. Krasnir is planning on attacking Slinsil and the’ve sent the spies to see were there going to attack.

The other four men are extremely brave. there is Boxer who only has a blunt battle axe, but he has a magic bottle which only Beer Garden can use on Boxer because Boxers arms are to short to reach. He is knicknamed Boxer because he always wears a cardboard box so his arms can’t reach his weapons.

Suddenly they heard a click they all drew there weapons and darted to the door, the door opened, Crossbones switched on his automatic drill and his electric ball and chain. The others stepped back. Crossbones is a right hard nut and never gives up, his ball and chain had reached maximum speed of 909 mph. A guard opened the door. The ball and chain hit him on the armour and he flew through the air at a great speed and landed in the cat food bowl (knocked out). He shut the door and they got back to looking at the plans. Stretcharmstrong is a wizard, he is the main spy of the group he can stech to 19 metres 33 cm. He can turn evil people into stone but it only works for five minutes and it doesn’t work near water. He can turn invisible which is a great help.

Last of all there is Lollyman he is very quick on his feet but gets tired easily he has a little helper called Harry the hamster who is always there to help. Harry holds a missile launcher which fires hamster nuts, which helps alot. The cellar was dark and a musty smell filled the air. Harry was nibbleling on a piece of cheese in the corner when suddenly his fur stood up on end and he squeked. The walls rumbled and ten or so door ways appeared. Ten armoured men appeared all with a gleaming sword (the size of LollyMan). They surrounded the spies like wolves around a rabbit, nobody moved. “Get them” shrieked one of the guards they all charged and before the spies could move they were tied up with balls and chains on there feet. They were taken to the dungeon. Bread and water were slid under the door a strange man was sitting in the corner we tried to speak to him but he wouldn’t talk he was really getting on our nerves Crossbones went over to him and stared into his eyes he stared back and all of a sudden he slowly began to fade away slowly but surely he went until only one of his broken shoes was left on his bunk bed. “This is getting very, very weird and Lollyman and the rest of us fell asleep and only the gentle sound of snoring could be heard coming from the dungeon.

(Possibly) to be continued …

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