Thursday 18 September 2014


Tucked away in our house is an old, black solicitor's Will box. Once upon a time it held things like birth and marriage certificates but nowadays just filled with bits and pieces. So, out of curiosity we decided to empty it and see what it contained - and, yes, mostly memorabilia like my dad's R.A.F. cap badge - some photos of the ships that hunted the German battleship 'Bismarck' but buried at the bottom was an envelope with two floppy discs inside.

The discovery of floppy discs were nothing new. I had already found a few, some years back with a couple of started westerns, a fantasy style story and a small collection of short stories. Expecting more of the same I connected my external disk drive to my laptop and fed the first disc in.

Back in the early Sixties I wrote a book called 'The Rebel' which told the story a young Rocker in the aftermath to the Mods vs Rockers beach battles at Brighton, Hastings and Margate. As it was written at the time it was dead accurate. I had been to Brighton that Bank Holiday so I knew what happened and how it was reported in the papers.

Agents who read the finished novel thought that while the writing was good I needed to do more research and get my facts right. It was even suggested that I read some of the newspaper accounts of the time. And this could be done via various newspaper archives. The other problem was that the hero was wrong. Mick Hood (the hero) worked in an office - he should have been a factory worker at best or a manual labourer.

The Rocker would always be type-cast as the forever baddie. Read comics of the day and beyond they were always there to bully or disrupt until the 'goodie' sent them packing.

So there was the book still there only, at some stage, I had taken the time to type it all out and save it to a disc. A book written fifty years ago, finally buried twenty years ago in an old will box. I say twenty years ago as my wife thinks that may have been when we bought out first computer.

The other disc contained a story that left me a little gobsmacked. The reason for this is that it didn't dawn of me that I had ever committed this to paper. I can recall that it was an idea, at the time. There are two main characters who first appear in 'The Rebel' but this time the timescale is greater - 1958 to mid Sixties. What is poignant about this is a) I know the girl's story; b) I know how the boy re-acts because it echoes mine. Child abuse was not headline news back in the fifties and sixties (I say that more in relation to the book's setting) and, therefore, I can see that could be why the novel was never finished.

Maybe, it was the criticism of the first book that put me off - or, far more of a possibility, that such a story would be unacceptable at the time. That things like abortion were mentioned in novels like Bill Naughton's 'Alfie' or Nell Dunn's 'Up The Junction' or the attempt in the bath scene from 'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning' - these are sort of glossed over. Not like when a girl turns up at your front door with blood stained jeans, sweating and out of breath because she had nowhere else to go - and why, because her mother had yanked out the foetus with the hook of a wire coathanger.

And while I may smile at the at the way that the two books read they do need a lot of revising without losing the political incorrectness of the period. I hate that 'accurate of the period' tag when the language and attitudes of the time say different.

The world has moved on since those two books were written. The facts behind both are better known and having watched a documentary recently about the Mods and Rockers where it was shown that the first novel was closer to the truth - then I feel confident that I can resurrect it. As for the second - tempted - but time will tell.