Describe Your Childhood In One Word.
A new international study has warned that British children are now among the least active in the world. Research comparing the activity levels of children in 38 countries put England, Wales and Scotland behind Ireland, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates. Scottish children are the worst. Also, ‘Generation Stress’ millennials are now suffering from ‘old person’ ailments from lower back pain to ulcers.
The requirements of being ‘on’ all the time are apparently to blame, and the rise of video games must play a part, as they drain away imagination rather than inspire it.
As a child I played in the street with friends and got bashed about a lot. Our games were not sport-based but complicated scenarios from historical battles to crime stories. After, we would write them up in the newspaper we were creating. We were not unusual children. Endless stuff to make – ships, planes, houses, steam engines – walks and museums, toys to build from scratch – all helped fire our imaginations. I don’t remember a time when we weren’t trying to invent something over-elaborate and vaguely dangerous. We were very much kids doing kid things, until about 12 or 13. we were explicitly instructed not to try adult things, which came later. If I had to describe my childhood in a word, it would be ‘inventive‘. The habit of constantly having to think up solutions to problems real or imagined translates directly into writing.
Filling notebooks, drawing comics, packing one’s mind with influences, mulching them, and then regurgitating the mulch into some kind of story you’ve made your own has always felt like the natural thing to do. It’s less to about physical activity than brain-training. I eventually became a copywriter to train my mind more toward thinking up solutions but the roots were there when I was young.
I have a friend who wants to switch to writing novels, yet shows no inclination to ever write anything down, and I cannot believe he’s considering leaving his job to follow this new career. Maybe he’ll succeed, but I doubt it. One thing seems clear; in the process of brain-training maybe I over-qualified myself. The current crime fiction lists have some truly lousy books in them with prose that seems copied from TV shows.
I’ve mentioned AD Miller and Keith Ridgway in the past for virtually reinventing genres with simple, brilliant ideas. But who wants anything new anymore? In times of crisis we crave comfort food, old-fashioned books and movies we’ve seen a hundred times.
I think how you describe your childhood says a lot about you as an adult. While you’re thinking about that, here’s something very inventive. I never care for their music, but all