A short essay

I went to Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield during the early eighties. It was a large school where it was easy to disappear. I was a lazy pupil, more interested in smoking and hanging out with the wrong crowd than applying myself academically. I was supposedly good at art, so my mother told everyone, but art utterly bored me. In fact, every class bored me. Instead, I occupied myself with being the class clown. I usually skimped on homework or copied of friend’s during morning registration.

One particular homework assignment, set by Mr McCaughty, a crazy six foot Tweed caricature of an English teacher, fired my imagination though. Something happened that evening as I tackled ‘write a 500 word short story’. I actually did my homework, and unbelievably, I enjoyed the task. It sparked my interest in a way nothing else at school had done. I wrote about a young boy making his way home from his friends house one cold, dark evening. He could well have been me. But the boy in the story was pursued by a creature. A hairy, savage beast of the night. A werewolf. I could see it unfold so clearly in my mind as I carefully wrote the story out page by page. At the climax of the story, the boy was caught by the beast just short of his door step and the safety of his house.

The story was clearly inspired by my love of the video nasties I rented and watched with my friend Anthony Garside – A Nightmare on Elm Street, An American Werewolf in London and Friday the 13th. Films I should not have been watching, but I was the sort of boy that enjoyed doing the things I should not have done. The next day, I handed my homework in and went back to being the class clown. One day later, Mr McCaughty singled me out during afternoon English and told the rest of the class how much he had enjoyed my story and asked me to read a section of it out. I got my one and only A+. The feeling that someone had enjoyed something that had popped out of my head stuck ever since and still inspires me to make stories up.

Warren Slingsby

October 2015