Picking Up the Pen Again

I was weeks into primary four, at Leith Primary School, in my hometown of Edinburgh, when one of my classmates told me that our teacher had let slip to him, that our little reading group of six pupils at the “top” of the class would be reading The Hobbit next. The excitement was palpable. I’d heard great things about Tolkien and his world. I wouldn’t be disappointed. The story enthralled me as a kid, and my teacher took notice.

Not long after we had finished the book as a group, she brought me in a real treat. Her grandfather’s copy of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I remember feeling so elated, and, I guess, a wee bit special, in a way, that she had entrusted me with a book of quite sentimental value and had chosen me as someone she felt could read it and take it all in. She was a fantastic teacher.

I took great care of that book, and, returned it in immaculate condition in around a month. Reading was my favourite thing in the world.

It wasn’t until high school that I started writing stories that other people, namely my English teacher and fellow pupils, began to tell me how much they enjoyed my work. One story that stick out to me, was about an IRA pub bombing, told through the eyes of the bomber himself. My English teacher asked me if he could read that story aloud to the class. I was a nervous and shy kid when it came to that kind of thing, but, relented, and it felt great to hear my story come to life through his voice. That was a marvellous moment for me.

Sadly, through events and shenanigans outside of school, my behaviour deteriorated in fourth year, and I was thrown out at the age of fifteen, with a pass in English and no other qualifications to my name. I had only been allowed to sit my Maths and English exams at the end of the year. I didn’t even bother turning up for my Maths exam. How my schooling ended is an immense regret of mine. But, what’s done is done.

I stopped writing at the end of my education completely, but continued to be an avid reader. My younger brother, Jamie, and I would always give each other different recommendations of books and authors we had discovered. It was he who told me about Hunter S. Thompson, and, who gave me Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye after he had finished them. From there I came to find the works of my favourite authors; Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Knut Hamsun.

Tragically, my brother passed away in September 2021 at the young age of twenty-nine. I’m so grateful for the love and literary knowledge he gave me. It’s for him, I write again. I have to keep writing.