In 2002 I had an idea!
I won’t tell you what it was because, as you probably know, I have pretensions of being “A WRITER” (as opposed to just being “a writer”) and we’re all supposed to be hopelessly paranoid about people nicking our plot lines!
What I CAN tell you is when it came to me and what I’ve done with it since.
In 2002 I was still working my “neither nights nor days shift” from 4.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the food factory in Corby that I have mentioned before.
One of the drawbacks of this way of working (apart from having to go to bed too early to have any social life) was that every so often whenever the Manager couldn’t be bothered I was required to deputise for him at the weekly inter-departmental KPI meeting. I THINK he thought I wouldn’t be missed in the IT office as I was about to go home anyway!
For those of you not familiar with “idiot-management-speak” KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators, or, in other words, how we were all doing against our targets.
My Department’s targets all concerned Server down-time (of which there was hardly any) so the other representatives would usually require me to go first and give a positive report to put the Directors in a good mood.
Not, as you might have thought, so that so that I could go home at the end of my shift! Oh no! Nothing so charitable!
Once I’d delivered my “report” I would have to help the Production Director get the video conferencing kit working so that he could receive the KPI reports from our other factory 75 miles away in Worksop. Basically this meant ensuring that the technologically inept little pillock had remembered both to put the plug for the TV in the socket AND switch it on – both things he WAS inclined to forget occasionally!
Thereafter I had to stay to listen to lots of uninteresting figures on sandwich, coleslaw and potato salad production! Consequently it was hardly surprising that my mind would drift “off topic” and I would begin to doodle and randomly scribble on my notepad.
I think one of the reports had concluded with a warehouse manager mentioning that his deputy would be attending next week because he was taking his children to the original Legoland theme park in Denmark.
Up to that point I had been looking out of the window at a very drab and drizzly Corby and thinking how miserable the weather in the UK could be.
Then the words “Theme Park” slipped in through my ears and slid across my brain to collide with those meteorological thoughts and the magic idea happened!
On my notepad I wrote the words “uniquely British theme park” and then doodled an intricate and ornate set of wrought iron gates with the name of the park arcing over the top of them.
And it’s THAT name that I’m keeping from you because it gives away the entire concept and, as I said before I’m a bit paranoid about someone else getting there first!
The idea must have really impressed me because I told the whole family about it when I got home.
I have to say it wasn’t taken very seriously but then I was, at that stage, seriously thinking in terms of acquiring some land and starting the thing myself so I can’t altogether blame them!
A short while later, in the summer of 2002, we went on holiday to a rented bungalow in Cornwall and on that holiday I took with me the laptop computer that the company had seen fit to issue to me. I intended to use it as an entertainment source when there was nothing to my taste on TV in the evenings.
I wasn’t allowed to put games on it and was eventually forced to ask the family “What can I write about?”
And it was my elder daughter who came up with the brilliant idea for which I give her full credit.
“Why not” she suggested “take your theme park idea and turn it into a novel”.
So I did!
After several false starts and deletions I finished the holiday with a page and a half of rough notes and the first few paragraphs of Chapter 1.
You will recall that this all began in 2002 so I expect that you are eagerly awaiting imminent publication.
I have done a paragraph here and there since then and after a serious “push” last winter to distract me from the dreaded Swine ‘flu I finally managed after seven and a half years to finish……………….
The problem I have is similar to the one I have with these articles; I know where it starts and where I want it to end – it’s how it gets from one to the other that causes me grief!
Oh, don’t worry! I WILL get there!
Just don’t hold your breath waiting!