Have finished writing “The Museum Mysteries” and am very pleased with my first horror story. Eat your heart out Edgar, eat your heart out Wilkie, eat your heart out Henry. It has finally turned out to be a novella rather than something more substantial; 43000 words as opposed to say 90000, and if that’s how it was meant to be, fine. Any more would simply be padding. So Douglas came up with the terrific suggestion that it’s published together with a selection of short stories and that is what we will do. Occasionally over the years I have written some short stories. Fortunately everything’s been kept (except for opus One Act Two, and a story called “Tefu’s Tent Peg” seems to have got lost as well) and I have gone through everything on the shelves in my study, finding stuff I didn’t even know I had written, or had no memory of anyway, and even taking a peek at the first few pages not having a clue as to what a piece is really all about. If time allowed I could take a dozen television plays, let alone stage plays, and turn them into novels but I don’t think that is any longer on the cards.
What I did come across was the file “Say What Shall my Song Be Tonight” and I didn’t realise how close I had got to putting together a full evening’s entertainment.
‘Say what shall my song be tonight,
And the strain at your bidding shall flow.
Shall the measure be sportive and light?
Or its murmurs be mournful and low?
Shall the days that are gone flit before thee?
The freshness of childhood come o’er thee?
Shall the past yield its smiles and its tears,
or the future its hopes and its fears?
Say, say, oh say, what shall my song be tonight?
Also there were extracts from “Eric” or “Little By Little” and “A Boy At Fifteen”. 1880. “Eric” had gone to nineteen editions!
‘The first time that Eric heard indecent words in dormitory No 7 he was shocked beyond bound or measure. Dark though it was, he felt himself blushing to the roots of his hair, and then growing pale again, while a hot dew was left upon his forehead…’
“A Boy At Fifteen” 1903, “Be most careful, therefore, to avoid all thoughts and actions, sights and sounds, which would in any way degrade the high purpose of your body…”
The Reverend George Everard(!) in his capital book for boys called “Your Innings” says, ‘There is a snake or a serpent, or whatever else you may call it, that creeps into many a school and leaves many of the lads with a bite that injures them for life. They carry the mark of it to their graves. It takes all the brightness out of their lives. It always brings with it a bondage and tyranny which follows them every step of their journey. Only lately a few young man were talking over the matter. They came from fifteen public schools and in every one of them this terrible enemy was known to exist.’
More of this wonderful stuff to follow.