Inspiration: The Ghost in the Privy (GWR)
A few years back I spent some time back in the village where an elderly relative was born and where I grew up, when not living overseas – my father was in the Army so we lived abroad most of the time – and during my visit I whiled away many hours as I listened to her chatting about the ‘old days’, her school friends, and the various village characters.
Initially I was seeking information for a book on family history I was (and still am) writing, so I was agog to hear all about the family and their lives. However, she soon digressed more and more each time we chatted, and before long she was telling me tales about the villagers and their lives. Some of the tales I already knew and could remember, hazily, once she began to tell me more and more, lots came back to me and I began to think about stories. Well you do.
During my visits with her we would go out shopping in the nearby town and as she didn’t have a car, and I had come on the train we had to rely on the local bus service (hit and miss service I call it), to take us anywhere. We spent many hours waiting for buses and during these often long and fruitless waits, various villagers would join us in the queue.
Most original locals know each other and have done for donkey’s years, since school, through their teens and into their old age – my relation is in her 80’s – so they have few secrets left for anyone to uncover, or so you’d think.
As well as the locals there are the ‘new-comers’: those who have recently arrived in the now expanding village, and those whose families have not been resident since the year dot, who are still viewed as ‘not local,’ but not ‘new-comers’ either. There is a definite divide.
During my long waits at the stop where my relation and her cronies would natter for England, being unable to join in and not invited to anyway, I got to hear no end of ‘family secrets’ and gossip going back to before World War 2. Some of it was entertaining and funny and some sad and best left unsaid, but these women (and a few men), spoke of these events as if they were only recent. All good fodder for a writer.
Not only was the conversation fascinating, the people were too. There are several families of Gypsies who have lived in the village since the year dot (not new comers), and they all went to the local C of E school or the local R.C school so many tales they told were about their school days and the various kids in their classes, their teachers and their antics in class.
Their stories were told in the local accent riddled with their own sayings and strange manner (to outsiders), of speaking. You cannot help but laugh at their tales and mannerisms when relating all their stories and opinions.
To say they dress eccentrically is an understatement and I am sure if you have read my short story ‘The Ghost in the Privy’ you will have an idea of what I mean. But they are not alone; several other villagers (characters) have ‘a way’ with their couture shall we say!
‘The Ghost in the Privy’ is based on a series of short stories I am writing under the title ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ and is about one particular morning waiting for the bus, which as usual was late.
All the usual characters arrive to wait for the bus and on this particular morning the newly widowed Ma Cox arrives, joining her cousin Ma Green, and their conversation is hilarious. I have changed names and used poetic license where necessary but the tale I tell is basically what I heard and saw that morning.
The story is one of two I have had published in Telling Tales by Writers for Welfare (an anthology) which sadly is no longer available for sale. However I do plan to publish this and other stories at some point this year (2013), so I hope you will keep an eye out for them.
I have written over a dozen stories for ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ (GWR), to date. They are what I call ‘Gentle humour’ stories – a change from Crime which may be a surprise. So do keep a look out for the antics of Ma Cox, Ma Green, Granny Hedges who smoked a clay pipe and wore a Trilby hat, Cinderella and her wayward sister Faney, and all the other characters who make up ‘God’s Waiting Room’.