Getting Creative with Gayle Knight’s Writing Courses
by Northern Life
Be inspired by poetry, a 50-word challenge and a musical memory.
Haslingden-local Gayle Knight coaches creativity in Lancashire through weekly creative writing groups that aim to get people writing.
Here’s a few of the pieces her talented students have come up with.
BY DOROTHY WALKER
There was a young woman called Mary
Whose armpits were always too hairy
She decided to shave
And the hair she then gave
To a very, very cold fairy!
BY DOROTHY WALKER
Made of checked cloth, which
Was duvet cover, cosy
Now, a handy bag.
Third person anger
BY HILARY SHEPHERD
It’s just a tree. A seed that has grown and learned to shelter Roman soldiers, film crews, walkers and romantics for hundreds of years. A landmark. A punctuation point that says, “herein lies a beautiful spot”. Thousands have walked past without stopping…. Leant against without thinking – and maybe hugged silently in prayer.
And then, overnight, it is gone. Like a sudden death in a family you don’t know… but you know someone who knows someone, and so you mourn them because you like to mourn. A woman looks out of her bedroom window at the view she is used to seeing every morning – and it takes moments to register the new bare horizon she will see for the rest of her lifetime. She calls to her husband in disbelief, and they have to walk there to prove to themselves that it’s true. To witness the atrocity. To be there.
A 16-year-old child has had the presence of mind and the skill to mark the tree with an aerosol to mark his work before starting up his chainsaw. A power tool designed for destruction in the wrong hands. Was he taught this in his arboriculture lessons?
Oh! The uproar! Then the national news! Then the international news! Was this what he sought? Are there selfies of him wielding his bright orange petrol-driven gun? Was this to be his moment of fame… or of shame…. Forever known as a vandal. Was it a drunken dare? Are his family and friends feeling proud today? Like words that are said… they cannot be taken back or undone. Lawyers and judges start to scrabble their thoughts together… what is his crime? He is 16… a minor… there is no sentence for stupidity. If there was, well… if only there was…..
Then the trophy hunters will come… they will want a slice. A literal moment of history to tell their children they were there, full of angst and anger… but forgetting that the coaster your coffee cup rests on is a sad piece of looting. Stolen at night or ripped off the branches whose only shield now is yellow and black tape whistling in the wind…. Then the fundraisers will come….
Buy a piece on eBay with all your money being donated to the preservation of heritage…. A vote! Yes, let the people speak on the design of the bench… the place to house the sculpture…
But…. says the tree quietly …My friends in the Rainforests need your help… I will grow again… Turn your narrow vision outwards to the world if you really want to remember the crime that has been committed. It’s happening every day. Let my legacy be that you turn your anger to what you are doing to the world I was born to protect. Out of sight and out of mind. I have gone to a better place.
50-WORD STORY CHALLENGE
BY JULIE WALLBANK
Gardening is the best stress buster Veronica thinks planting out the begonias. She has total control here. Gerald has no interest, unlike all other aspects of their life together. The earth is very rich now. Organic matter makes the best fertiliser. ‘Goodnight Gerald, ’ she whispers, rising to admire her handiwork.
BY JULIE LEE
The smell of spring was just what I’d been dreaming about for the last ten years. I stepped out and immediately smelt the daffodils growing wildly by the road. The grass verge was newly mowed, heaven. Exiting the prison door, my life was about to begin again.
Poundshop Plastic Pumpkins
BY KEITH DIXON
Under a full moon and cloaked in mist, an evil approached the house. It paused, confused by polystyrene gravestones and was ignored by a ghostly brother, cackling electronically. Plastic pumpkins flashed coloured lights, lacking the magic living flame—tacky decorations won’t protect them; these people would just taste bad, tasteless.
It takes courage
BY LIZ BAKER
The whine of a lost dog suddenly roused her from her daydream. She shivered as she looked around the white-frosted park. She summoned her body to attention as she rose quickly from the bench. She also summoned the courage to phone the doctor’s surgery to find out the results.
BY MEL SOUTHWORTH
“What’s with the stale cannolies, ya dumb broad?” the mobster said, tipping them onto the floor. “Oopsie! Ain’t you better pick that up?” Don ‘Casanova’ didn’t recognise me. Bending down, I slipped off my heel and slammed it through his throat. “Stiletto for stiletto, stronzo!” I hissed. Quid Pro Quo!”
It was Boon, Sir
BY KEITH DIXON
“Form a line, assembly everyone… Now!” bellowed the teacher, his impatient eyes glared through a pair of oversized metal-rimmed glasses, the bridge of which pinched a permanent scowl onto his face, like that of an angry owl.
The dimly lit room had been filled with groups of people engaged in idle conversation as they waited. Irritated by the lack of order, Sir’s face boiled red, and he swooped, sending a shockwave of surprise that jolted everyone. Then, like rabbits frozen in headlights, they darted, clambering between the chairs, frantic, not to be last in line.
Then, like rabbits frozen in headlights, they darted, clambering between the chairs, frantic, not to be last in line.
Dressed like some villainous disciplinarian from a TV school drama, Sir wore a ridiculous blue suit, crisp white shirt, red bow tie, toothbrush moustache, and an obvious toupee; it was such an inviting trap for an unwary comment, and he’d relished the many opportunities to punish for those comments.
The line formed, fitting neatly between a Dalek and a Cyberman, mere kittens compared to Sir, who was now scrutinising the line one by one. I was twelfth – twelve times as long to hold my breath.
I stood frozen at attention, unable to look away from the antics on stage where Clint had been selecting records and now stared disdainfully at the black disc in his hand, and the label that said Oasis—Clint hated Oasis.
A flash of glee spread across his face, then in an act of bravado, he waved it in the air, grabbed both sides and said, “We won’t be needing that,” as he flexed and snapped it in two.
Clint Boon was the cool kid. He had a rock star style, every hair meticulously placed for that spiky, just-got-out-of-bed look, and a pair of futuristic sunglasses obviously borrowed from a killer robot. Dressed head to toe in black, a sleek fitted jacket hung perfectly over his slim frame and subtle military epaulettes and breast pockets imbued him with the aura of a sharply tailored freedom fighter.
Clint Boon was the cool kid.
Panicked, I darted a glance down the line, then relaxed. Thankfully, Sir was oblivious, too engrossed in chastising the dress code violations of one young man’s trainers, printed T-shirt, and a back pocket bottle of beer. Then my heart sank as, onstage, Clint fished out another record and grinned proudly as he continued his destruction. Amazed at his audacity, I momentarily forgot about Sir and a bubble of laughter formed in my chest, instinctively realising the danger, I quickly tensed and trapped it in place.
But it wouldn’t die, and each moment was a tick on a countdown to launch. No amount of gulping back, or sober thinking could abort this mission and the tiniest squeak of a laugh, finally, escaped my pursed lips.
“You, boy, is something funny?” the words oozed and purred from Sir’s mouth with slow practised menace.
“Me, Sir, no, Sir, it was Boon, Sir,” I stammered. The fragile words tripped and stumbled out of my mouth.
“De-ten-tion!” he screamed, his face inches away, each syllable a blast of hot breath against mine.
I hung my head, and replied dejectedly, “Yes, Mr. Bronson.”
Suddenly, he pulled his head back and smiled, swinging his arm in a wide, graceful flourish as he pointed the way past the vintage posters, neon signs, and cabinets full of toys that adorned the walls until stopping at a small, flying saucer, festooned bar. And his voice shifted, projecting with the theatrical resonance of a seasoned actor,
“Detention will be at the bar.” Then, returning to the character, he declared, “Class dismissed.”
Until that moment, it was like being, quite literally, back in 1985—in a scene from ‘Grange Hill.’ How they’d persuaded the actual actor who played Mr. Bronson to come, I’ll never know.
And the journey to the bar was a journey through time, and back to reality. Through the eighties, the Ghostbusters watched, from a large poster on the wall, their proton packs ready and aimed, and from a glass cabinet, the Men in Black stood guard through the nineties. Then finally, Spider-Man spun a web that pulled me back to the present, and fact that it was just a Wednesday evening in a city centre bar, except it was also the night I got detention from Mr. Bronson because of Clint Boon from the Inspiral Carpets.
Read more about Gayle’s story and her journey to teaching Creative Writing here.
If this article has piqued your interest, and you’d love the opportunity to see your work in print, then you’ll be pleased to hear that NorthernLife will be running a short story competition over future issues.
NorthernLife Jan/Feb 24