Off Course Writers


The Philippa Fawcett Teacher Training College for young ladies did not allow students to read stories to very young children! All stories were to be told. So we read and reread our chosen story and queued at the epidiascope to reproduce one large illustration to hold the children’s attention. My love of storytelling began. Without a book, I found I could interact with each listener and hold them spellbound. One day I would write for children.

On my retirement I left children behind and found interests among an older generation. I enrolled on a Writers Correspondence Course. I had nothing to lose. If I had not sold anything within two years I would be eligible for a complete refund. The course was good, my tutor encouraging but he did not set deadlines. I need deadlines! At the end of two years I had not completed the course and received nothing.

After my husband’s death, I struggled to fill my days so I enrolled for a writing course at the Hamilton Centre where I met the co-authors of this anthology. The course was mediocre but the subsequent cake and critique sessions, have been my inspiration, off course.


Growing up with very young, curious charismatic parents was a joy. To a large extent we all grew up together.

My parent’s zest for life and spontaneity is ingrained in me. Discussions at meal times were lively and insisted upon.   As was reading. Learning was everything.

My Father wanted to be a writer and often sent scripts to the BBC.  ‘Thank you, but no thank you,’ was sometimes the reply. My mother wanted to be a writer as well, but for her own sake rather than to prove something to the world. Hence my own interest in reading and writing.  

I would like to say that there was no vanity involved in seeing my name in print, but that would not be honest, although I have largely lost the need to prove myself.

These stories have been a joy to write and also difficult and sometimes therapeutic. So I suppose there is a part of me that hopes people will recognise parts of their own life in them, thereby bringing us together.


As a child I would spend hours sat in my bedroom writing endless silly childish stories. In the winter the room was freezing with only a two bar electric fire for warmth, but I didn't care!

 As I grew into a teenager, less time was spent hunched over an exercise book. In time I grew up, got married, had children and in latter years became a carer for my mum, and so my writing and my imagination dried up.

 For years I had a part/time job as an usherette at the Hexagon, but as the kids got older I looked around for another job. I was lucky to arrive at The Museum of Reading, still as a casual, but the work was more interesting.

 It was while I was employed here that I came across a pamphlet for the WEA and inside amongst the various courses was one for creative writing. It was a ten-week course and relatively cheap and so I decided to give it a go. I was amazed that I was able to write something each week. At the finish a few of us decided to continue meeting in each other’s houses, where we would enjoy tea and cake and discuss further projects.


At the age of eight, I was an unhappy newcomer in a strange place. We had moved from our home town to be nearer dad's work, and knew nobody. At school, as well as being an outsider, I was that kid who is always picked last for every game, the one no team captain would want: standing between two piles of coats “keeping goal” while the rest of the team made sure nobody got a chance to shoot!

One day, when I had been in the new school about a year, we had to write an essay. When the work was marked, the teacher, Mr Shead (pronounced “shed”), chose mine to read aloud to the class. Everybody listened quietly. At the end he said, ‘That is how you write a story!’    My class mates didn't crowd around me, patting me on the back, like in a film; I was not first pick for any teams and the kids who didn't like strangers still didn't like me. I just knew that here was something I could do that they could not - and that made all the difference to my life there.

I am still rubbish at games involving a rapidly moving ball, but I have always loved writing.

'Thanks, Mr Shead, for more years than I care to remember, you have made all the difference'.


From a young age I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – I would teach maths at a primary school. At 18, with a failed A level in maths but ones in geography and needlework I suppose the next illogical step was to start a degree in computer studies…having never seen a computer in my life. So that’s what I did and then followed a career of roughly 25 years in the IT industry. Well, less career path, more career crazy paving perhaps as, when I took voluntary redundancy, I had been working as the internal communications manager for some years. This was a bit like a translation/intermediary service between the IT department and the rest of the organisation but meant at least I was writing.

The WEA brochure landed on my doormat just as work ended – fate perhaps? Daytime courses were now an option and the creative writing offering jumped out at me. I found the 10-week course homework afforded me some discipline to keep writing and was keen to keep going as the course ended.   Early in 2012 the five of us met up as a writing group for the first time and now regularly meet to enjoy tea, cake and chatter….oh, and yes, we also write a bit too.