Friday, 20 January 2012

"Creative Writing" - Exercise II

In "Creative Writing" - Exercise I of the famous ZMKC online "Creative Writing" course, readers were offered the opportunity to craft stories based on the scraps of overheard conversation I picked up while walking up my local hill (and, by the way, I forgot to include the one that I think may in fact offer the most dramatic potential: "It was only afterwards that we realised they were Japanese.")

Now, in Exercise II, I offer you these photographs, taken at Yass Hospital, where I've been spending a lot of time lately, (long, boring story), and challenge you to conjure full-length period novels from them. You have the choice of a couple of early 20th century settings, or the 1950s. Your cast of characters is large and varied. Doubtless, most of them had friendships, difficult families, disappointments, complicated lives. All you have to do is imagine the details (and I'm even giving you the names, to make life easier).

In the first group, you see the staff circa 1910 (back row, "Nurse, Matron, AB Triggs, AC Wood, front row, Dr Doolan, Dr J English, 'unknown', Dr Thane, Mr W Thompson, Nurse, Mr Griffin, [wonderful how the women have no names recorded]):

In the second group, we jump forward to 1957, where women get names and everyone seems the happier for it, (back row: Mick Nash, Ray Hammil, Bill Cook, Joe O'Connor, Lloyd Parker, Front row: AJ Shannon, Naomi Oxley, Matron Besley, Ken Hartigan):

Then back we go again to 1925, which looks oddly more remote than 1910 and where again, despite their numerical preponderance, the women remain nameless (Dr J English on the right, and Dr Colquhoun on the left):

Finally, we go right back to 1895, when the hospital was only a twinkle in the planning committee's eye (BA Nichols, W Thomson, A Wood, T Comins, Dr English, AW Thomson, T Colls, AB Triggs, TJ Sheekey, Dr Doolan, THF Griffin, J Waddell, EJ Howard, G Bates):

They were a rum looking lot, but I think what their efforts produced was beautiful:


  1. Picture two:

    The V-shaped area of brick was terrified. What's going to happen to me? it wondered. What happens if they move? I'll disintegrate. Stay still, men, stay still. It worried, and at the same time its mind was wondering over other things, facial hair, the moustaches and the muttonchops, the presence of half a nurse away to the left, whether it put the dog out and turned the stove off this morning, the brain fishing around and coming up with these odd objects, old tin cans and the gummy sharks of the intellect. If they move I will die, it thought, and simultaneously it cast a judgment on a hat. Pale hump with a big brim isn't his style. Tall and black is the hat he needs. An intelligence like this, it thought, a beautiful sense of taste like mine, and yet they're going to kill me. O don't move.

    1. And finally, when, out of sheer panic, it called out, 'Is there a doctor in the house?' and they all turned round - the mutton chops one and the one with the hat that didn't fit and the one with no hat who looked as though he might be a waiter from the hotel down the hill and even the nurse, although she had no right to since she wasn't actually a doctor -it knew it was going to be all right.

  2. But, of course, it was wrong, for in the moment of their turning it was gone.