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school days reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

School Days, Reminiscences of Hugh Roberts

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Hugh Roberts, author, blogger and WordPress Whiz who generously shares his knowledge and advice to assist others along their blogging journey.

I’m not quite sure when or how Hugh and I met, but it was probably over at Geoff Le Pard’s blog some years ago. They are both now involved in the organisation of the Annual Bloggers’ Bash celebrating its fifth anniversary in London later this year (find out more on Hugh’s blog here).

Hugh Roberts and Books

Hugh features many interesting series on his blog and always welcomes new readers and often contributors. I read and enjoyed Hugh’s first book of short stories Glimpses. The second volume More Glimpses has recently been released, and I am looking forward to seeing what twists and delights Hugh has in store for me now.

Hugh also entered both Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contests that I hosted. Although they are judged blind, Hugh won the first competition and came second in the second. That’s a fair indication of what I think of his story telling. 😊

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Hugh to tell you a little of himself:

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of on-line friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential’.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best complements a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was published in March 2019. Hugh is already working on the next volume.  

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing most evenings with a glass of red wine.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.  

Welcome, Hugh. Now let’s talk school.

First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I spent my whole school life in the town of Chepstow; a town on the south-east border of Wales and England in the UK.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

They were government-run schools.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

I left school at the age of 16 with five ‘O’ Levels and three GSCEs.  I then did a brief stint in college on a hotel and catering management course. A job offer meant I left the class before it finished.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

My first job was as an office junior before I went into retail.  I enjoyed an office environment, but it wasn’t customer facing (which is what I wanted). I told my careers teacher at school that I wanted to join the police force or fire brigade. Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify to join either because you had to be above a certain height. I was a couple of inches too short!

What is your earliest memory of school?

I was the only one standing up in class crying my eyes out while I watched all the mums and dads walking away. It was my first day at school, and I didn’t want my mum to leave me there. I was very emotional and felt she had abandoned me and was not coming back. Of course, she did.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

I remember the ‘Peter and Jane’ books which started at 1a, 1b and 1c and went up to 12c (which was the last book in the series). They got harder as you moved up to each one, and you were only allowed to move on to the next book when your teacher was satisfied that you could read the current book satisfactorily.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember the first ink pens given to us to practice writing. They were very thin and had to be filled with ink from a bottle, which we had to fill ourselves. It could sometimes get very messy.

While many of the children around me were doing ‘joined-up’ writing, I was doing all mine in block letters. I can remember being taken aside and told that I had to join the letters together. It took me a long time to gets to grips with joining the letters together, and it wasn’t long before I was left behind.

What do you remember about math classes?

I was not too fond of maths. Numbers did not interest me. All I wanted to do was make up stories. All my maths teachers were rigorous, which didn’t help in me gaining any confidence in numbers. I saw them as nasty, uncaring people, who didn’t seem to care about the children around them. I’m sure they did, but I didn’t see it that way.

What was your favourite subject?

Geography. I enjoyed learning about other countries and the people who lived in them. I was fascinated by maps and the names of towns and cities and the roads that connected them. Even the positions of countries intrigued me, and when I discovered time zones and realised that it wasn’t ‘lunchtime’ everywhere at the same time, ‘time-travel’ entered my life.  I remember wishing that it would become part of the Geography education module before I left school.

School Photo - Hugh Roberts

What did you like best about school?

Drama class. In primary school, I could run around being who or what I wanted to be. Whether it was a tree, an animal or somebody driving a vehicle, I enjoyed the fun, laughter and enjoyment of the class.

As I grew up, Drama got more serious, but I enjoyed playing different parts in the school play.

What did you like least about school?

Playing sport. I had no liking for playing any physical games, especially on cold, wet days on muddy fields. After Easter, we would do athletics which I enjoyed a lot more. The long jump was my speciality!

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

Unfortunately, I think there are now more children who have no respect for their teachers than there were in my school days. Not only that, but some of the parents also have little regard for the teachers.

It also saddens me to hear about schools not being able to afford to buy the basics like pens, pencils, books and even toilet rolls, because their budgets have been cut so much. Many now turn to the parents asking them to help fund children’s education when it really should be the government which funds it. I was so lucky to have ‘free’ education but, these days, ‘free education’ is something that is disappearing fast.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I hear more and more about schools inviting authors, writers and experts to come in and talk to the pupils about a particular subject. Whether it be about self-publishing, how to be safe on social media, or help and advice on careers or money matters, it gives those who want to help a chance to pass on their knowledge to new generations to come. I think it’s fantastic that they also ask people to come in and talk about their memories about specific events. It helps keeps memories and ‘past ways of lives’, alive.

How do you think schools could be improved?

More needs to be done in educating children about diversity and the hate crimes we hear so much about nowadays. Nobody should feel afraid to go to school because they are bullied or just because they’re told they are different and don’t fit in. Children should be encouraged to read about different ways of lives and to speak out about bullying. As a child who was bullied at school, my life was made much worse because I was afraid to tell an adult what was happening. These were the days before social media where bullying and hate crimes have now taken up residence. Children, these days, have a lot more to put up with, but I think there are also more bullies these days than there were when I was at school.

thank you for your participation

That’s an interesting observation with which to conclude, Hugh. Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sorry you were bullied in school and wish bullying was something we could eradicate.  

 

Find out more about Hugh Roberts

on his blog: Hugh’s Views and News

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Connect with him on Social Media

Twitter: @HughRoberts05

Flipboard

Mix.com

Purchase Hugh’s books here:

Glimpses by Hugh Roberts

Universal Link for buying Glimpses

More Glimpses by Hugh Roberts

Universal Link for buying More Glimpses

 

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Debby Gies

Pauline King

Jules Paige

D. Avery

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

Anne Goodwin author of Becoming Someone, an anthology of short stories

You know who you are: Becoming Someone

I am delighted to jump aboard Anne Goodwin’s blog tour promoting her newest book of short stories Becoming Someone. While I don’t usually participate in blog tours, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity as Anne and I have been friends almost since the beginning of my blogging days.

Anne was not the first person I met when I began blogging, but she is the earliest to still be with me on my journey. Interestingly, we met on Twitter where a discussion about singing (or not) led to a blog post and then countless conversations on her blog and mine over the past (almost) five years. I am extremely grateful for her encouragement and support as I discovered who I might become in the blogging world. Even when I’m not so sure*, Anne is always there to give me something to think about.

Back in those early days, just over four years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne in London when I was visiting family. Although it was quite a lengthy journey for her (not quite as far as from Australia but it wasn’t a day trip for me), Anne didn’t hesitate to meet up. We met at the British Library and, during the course of the day, Anne revealed a secret – she had secured a contract for her first novel Sugar and Snails. She was already an award-winning and published writer of short stories, but now she could add novelist to her achievements. I was so thrilled to be one of the first to be let into the secret and I told her that I was pleased to have known her before she became famous.

Now Anne’s second novel Underneath is also published and a third (and maybe fourth) is in progress. I had been a fan of Anne’s short stories before either of her novels were published, so am now delighted that she has collected some of her stories together into an anthology Becoming Someone to be launched with a huge Launch Party on Facebook tomorrow 23 November 2018. Everyone is welcome so make sure you drop in to say “Hi” and pick up your copy of her book. (I believe she is offering virtually anything you wish to eat or drink.)

But perhaps I shouldn’t ramble on too long with my memories and instead let Anne introduce herself to you through her official bio.

Anne Goodwin author

Anne Goodwin, author of Becoming Someone, a collection of short stories

Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity launches on Facebook on November 23rd, 2018, where the more people participate the more she’ll donate to Book Aid International. A former clinical psychologist, Anne is also a book blogger with a particular interest in fictional therapists.

Alongside her identity as a writer, she’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.

Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

Becoming Someone blurb

cover of Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

What shapes the way we see ourselves?

An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.

Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?

Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?

Becoming Someone published 23rd November, 2018 by Inspired Quill

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-908600-77-6 / 9781908600776

eBook ISBN: 978-1-908600-78-3 / 9781908600783

Amazon author page viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin

Author page at Inspired Quill publishers http://www.inspired-quill.com/authors/anne-goodwin/

Note: Important Addendum from Anne

If anyone was considering buying a digital version of Becoming Someone, I wanted to alert you to the fact that there’s been a technical hitch with the link to the e-book on Amazon. We hope this will be fixed soon but, in the meantime, it’s available it at the same price through the publishers here:
http://www.inspired-quill.com/product/becoming-someone-kindle-ebook/

Facebook launch in support of Book Aid International https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/

Becoming Someone Facebook launch

Becoming Someone Facebook launch https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/

An online party to celebrate the publication of my first short story anthology, Becoming Someone.

Drop in at your own convenience wherever you are in the world, I’ll be here to entertain you from morning coffee to pre-dinner drinks.

The more actively people participate, the more I’ll donate to Book Aid International.

To find out more about Anne and her books

visit her website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

connect with her on Twitter @Annecdotist

or check out these other posts on her blog tour:

Becoming Someone blog tour

Special Offer

Sugar and Snails special offer

Through November, in celebration of the publication of Becoming Someone, Anne has a special promotion of her debut novel Sugar and Snails.  It is discounted to 99p or equivalent (Kindle version) until the end of the month. viewbook.at/SugarandSnails

Becoming Someone: Teaser

As well as on our own blogs, Anne and I have kept in touch at the Carrot Ranch where we participate in the weekly flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills. Anne was also kind enough to support me in judging the recent fractured fairy tale contest held as part of the Carrot Ranch Flash  Fiction Rodeo. (Note: The results of that contest will be published at the Carrot Ranch on 7 December.)

Knowing how much I enjoy fractured fairy tales, Anne has kindly allowed me to share an extract from her fractured fairy tale Reflecting Queenie which features in her anthology Becoming Someone. I wonder if you’ll be able to recognise which fairy tale Anne has fractured. If not, then you might just have to read the whole story in her book.😊

Reflecting Queenie teaser for Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

Reflecting Queenie

Queenie would not have wanted me there, but she could hardly expect Dad to attend her trial alone. So I sat beside him in the public gallery as he held himself as still as his Parkinson’s would permit, while the prosecution ripped her personality apart. It was a straightforward case of jealousy, they said, and only Queenie seemed surprised when the jury returned a guilty verdict.

Up until that point, she’d kept herself aloof, not quite focused on anyone, or anything. Now she raised her head towards the gallery and found me. Her fear and confusion beat against my skin, fighting to penetrate my mind. I stayed firm and let it all bounce back to her, as if I were a bat, and she the ball.

I was not quite three when my mother decided I had special powers. As she told me later, it was the only explanation for the way I seemed to anticipate her every move. She’d be thinking about making an apple pie and before she’d opened her mouth I’d be wrestling the baking bowl out of the cupboard. She’d be wondering how her Gran was getting on and, before she knew it, I’d be pushing a pad of Basildon Bond into her hand.

“How did you know?” she’d ask again and again and, since I hadn’t the words to tell her, she concluded I was telepathic.

I was four when my baby brother fractured our blissful duet. It didn’t matter then if she was thinking about baking or writing a letter, his slightest whimper drew her to him. “What is it?” she crooned. “Are you hungry? Do you want your nappy changing?”

Her sing-song voice embarrassed me. She sounded wrong in the head. As if she were unable to distinguish between a scream of hunger and a summons to clean him up.

Weeks passed before I realised she genuinely couldn’t tell the difference. That her ears received each cry in my brother’s repertoire in an identical way. I realised that if I didn’t call out “He’s hungry” or “He’s lonely” the moment the baby started to grizzle, we’d never have baked any pies or written any letters again.

My mother would look at me in wonder as the baby latched on to her nipple or gurgled in her arms. “How did you know?”

Without a spell at nursery to acclimatise me to other children, school entered my life with a bang. If I’d thought my baby brother was noisy, it was nothing compared to the playground racket. At first I kept to the edge, intimidated by the terrible uniformity of the other children. I leant against the fence and watched, while I worked out how to survive the confusion, how to remember which blonde-haired blue-eyed little girl was Judith and which was Mandy. Which of my classmates liked Smarties and which preferred Fruit Pastilles. Who walked to school and who travelled by bus.

When the first of the children jabbed me on the chest, I was prepared. “What’s my name?” she demanded.

I told her.

She giggled. “How did you know?”

Another sauntered up. “When’s my birthday?”

Again, I told her.

“How did you know?”

After that, I was never alone in the playground. The other children could always find a use for my attentiveness. I’d skip along with a gaggle of girls hanging onto my arms. In the early years I suppose it made them feel secure that someone could tell them who they were. Later, their requirements became more sophisticated. Will I get to star in the Nativity play? Does Pamela really like me or is she pretending so she can play on my bike? I answered as best I could. I took their questions inside me and reported what I felt. You’re not right for Mary but you’ll make a great shepherd. Yes, Pamela likes you but she likes your new bike even more.

Although in demand, I never took my position for granted. There was always the chance that one day I’d say something inconvenient and be pushed back against the fence. When the teacher wrote on my report, Myra is a popular girl, I knew it was provisional. I knew deep down I was no different from the kids who were left to themselves because, when people looked at them, they didn’t like what they saw. So I made sure that when my classmates looked at me all they could see was themselves.

When my report described me as good at art, I knew I’d convinced even the grownups there was no more to me than their own reflection. True, my sketches of my friends were well observed. But when I drew myself I could only manage a black outline, an empty space within.

Becoming Someone Facebook launch

*I was one of ten. When my mother wanted me to do something for her, she would often rattle off half a dozen names before she could think of mine. In fact, she couldn’t always bring my name to mind and would sometimes say, “Well, you know who you are.” It has been a long-standing family joke. But, I’m not sure if she was right. I’m not sure if I know who I am, or whether I just know who I am becoming; hopefully becoming someone who is better each day than the one before. I just know I am going to love Anne’s stories, won’t you?

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.