24,000 words. 24,000 words! That was my niece’s last word count on her story.
‘How come you’re only up to 13000?’ she asked me.
Hah! Is all I can say. Then she casually mentions that she has to write a story for homework before the end of the Christmas break. This is on Monday. She was due back at school on Thursday.
‘Oh, I’ve got it all down in notes,’ she says. ‘All I’ve got to do is write it.’
Fast forward to a worried Mum telling her, the night before term starts, ‘Get on with it. Your auntie will help you.’
I have a double bed. I share it with the dog, sometimes the cats and, on the night before school, with my niece. She has my net book, I have dear old Hellspawn. My sister comes in to say goodnight to us both and falls about laughing. Apparently we look like a 21st century version of Morecambe and Wise. I put my glasses on crooked and say,
I am playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.’
‘What are you on about?’ my niece asks.
My niece came home from school and told us that her English teacher quite liked the first page of her story. Don’t I just know that by Monday, teacher will be full of praise. I am. It was a damn good story. And it actually owes very little to my help. I’m more of a spell-checker than anything.
Mum asked if she could read it. ‘Of course,’ said my niece. ‘Fill your boots.’ Ten minutes later, my sister is in tears. My niece comes to tell me.
‘Well that’s a good sign,’ I say.
‘Snuffle,’ says my sister.
Am I jealous of my niece’s talent? Bloody right I am! I’ve tried to bribe, threaten and force her into writing my dissertation for me but she won’t do it. Now, I’m wondering, should I just give up because it seems that the next generation is streets ahead of me. Oh pants!