The Roman Walled City of York has a dark and turbulent history, which is relevant when introducing the black robed, cane-wielding inquisitors determined to ensure I would not be a moron. They succeeded and I became a not person. I’ve lost count of the number of people who told me I’m not this or not that.
I did not grow up with a pencil in hand, jotting down anecdotes for future novels. The notes in my exercise book were by teachers decrying the inkblots and the stick figures I doodled. This did not signal I would become an analyst on illustrator. I’m not an artist, though over the years I sold a few canvases and collected a couple of minor awards, nor am I a psychiatrist, but my great-grandchildren think I’m a harmless nutcase.
After spending hours in detention, grinding lenses for the science master’s telescope, and an equal number, learning unintelligible Latin responses to the Mass, I knew astronomy and religion were not career prospects.
Most of my thirteenth year, I spent bringing in the harvest, for victory. I’m not a farmer, and dislike gardening, so I parted company with the land and school.
The ear is a wonderful appendage, designed to give authority a handle. My mother grasped mine and hauled me off to become an apprentice coachbuilder. Sixteen is the normal age, the war speeded things up. At seventeen, I could operate every machine in the mill, weld anything, beat life into metal, and give French polishing a shellacking. I also enjoyed smoking and fire watching. I would have taken up the latter as a career, but the market collapsed. The weed stayed with me for the best part of a lifetime.
Having, survived a few near misses, I became impatient to join a Service and throw a few stones. The glamour of the RAF seduced me and I volunteered. I’m not Aircrew. Classed, short of sight, which means I don’t need glasses to sign, but the numbers on the runway become blurred at a height of 2000 feet. To make matters worse Germany surrendered before I finished the initial training. I spent the rest of my service on one course or another, so they managed to clean up the Pacific without me. I did learn that violent death occurs in peacetime operations, and is just as permanent. Thankfully, I was not a casualty and remained a not.
Not being regimentally minded, when the RAF reverted to a ceremonial role, I quit to become an eligible bachelor. But not for long, the demob suit, and conservative trilby I wore, persuaded her I was ready to settle down.
A dozen jobs, two children, a steady stream of literature on Sunny Australia, and she began to suspect I was hankering to not be a not, or not to split the infinitive, to be not a not.
To paraphrase a great man, this is the end of the beginning. I will not bore you with the rest of the bits. Suffice to say, today, equipped with my uneducated mother tongue, and a lifetime of memories, I write to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
Where to find Charles Gonda online
The Deer Twins
On an Australian deer farm, isolated by the elements, Patrick and his wife battle to save their livelihood from the raging the floods. While their six-year-old twins, drawn by the unconditional bond that unites children and pets, court danger and risk all to save their beloved fawn.
Three gifted Latvian sisters flee from the Russians in the 1940s and find refuge in England where they build successful careers.
They emerge from the conflict between career and family to find their dreams barren and grasp one last chance of fulfilment.
Returning to their birthplace they relive the terrors of their childhood until love, betrayal, and tragedy, climax in a bittersweet resolution.
The Art Street Cronicles
Five captivating stories that range from the sublime to the ludicrous as they trace the activities of an amateur art group. Each story begins with an every day problem, and, with sharp insights into the dynamics of social groups, takes a convoluted journey that ends with an intriguing twist. You certainly don’t need an arts degree to enjoy these tales.
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