Youth in the last pre-computer age
I found most of these scribbles in a battered file in an old shopping basket in my mother’s house after her death in 2019 aged 93. They were badly typed or handwritten on loose sheets of paper and it took some time to piece the narratives together, and then type them up onto a computer.
They were composed, mostly, while on the dole in inner-London squats and condemned short-life housing from 1981-1986, after which I moved to West Berlin. I wrote little after that until around 1990. I was in my twenties (b. 1959), new to urban life and young for my age in many ways.
I have resisted editing, out of respect for that inexperience; only spelling mistakes, some names (to protect the innocent) and some punctuation have been altered. Nonetheless, the innocent will most likely know who they are.
I would just like to remind them (should they ever read this) that here is the perspective of one very young woman, not anticipating publication for the most part, and who felt at liberty to omit and amplify what she remembered, as fiction writers will, wherever it suited the point she was trying to make.
That she was always trying to make some point, however diffuse, is what validates this writing for me. The phrasing is often ungainly; technically it is unsophisticated; clearly it’s the work of a relative beginner. But these tales have a sense of purpose, and something real to say about their time, place and creator.
They are a somewhat more curated extension to my 1976-81 diaries, here and here. I did a fair amount of left-wing/feminist journalism during these years (some of which can be found in the Spare Rib online archive) but this site is strictly for unpublished, largely fictional work.
It follows on from the diaries as stage two of a long work-in-progress; to upload my entire archive written over the past five decades. And beyond, because I’m not done writing yet!
I am being selective in the process, and am editing up to a point. I’m not aiming for literary class (though I do like the occasional turn of phrase . .) but to convey something of my life and times, the person I was once, and have become since. Editing anything therefore written 40 years ago to my current late-middle-age standards would be counter-productive. I’m absolutely not doing that.
There’s an awful lot here; stories, poems, playscripts, travel diaries, and draft novels – nine of those at the last count. I was and remain an addict. It’ll be a lot of work, getting it all into readable shape, and will take me some time. Progress should accelerate once I get to texts, written from the 1990s onwards, already on computer disc.
This 1980s selection includes a 30,000 word unfinished-draft half-novel, which I’ve called Two Worlds Linked by Train (the manuscript had no title) and a short playscript, ‘Crashing Out’.
This is self-publishing, I suppose, at its most basic.