stories.

story noun. a description of events and people that the writer or speaker has invented in order to entertain people

Definition of story from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Why are stories so important?

Rueben’s Thomasz – (8 years old)

If you ever spent a lot of time around young children or if you can remember from your own childhood, then I bet you’ve heard of stories like Spot the Dog or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Stories like these introduced us to different foods, different animals, different items around the house, colours, counting and words, even relatives, friends and relationships. They helped our little brains understand the world around us, by associating most of the things we take for granted today, with simple narratives.  

Lizzie’s Thomasz – (26 years old)

They’re vital for learning and there’s even a study to show that people remember facts and information more easily from a story, than from statistics alone.

Other than being excellent learning cars, stories are also a way to find common ground with strangers. They unite us through fear, joy, sadness, amusement, desire, disgust and excitement. With a story, we find ourselves in scenarios we may never find ourselves in real life. Reading about someone’s experiences, feelings and reactions, helps us to consider our own thoughts and feelings in a similar position. Being able to relate or connect to imaginary characters can have the same effect as if you were relating to someone you actually met or know and connecting to people is part of our survival psychology: from the moment we are born, we rely on those connections with other people to ensure our growth. Stories can help develop our understanding of other people and strengthen the bonds of our relationships.

It’s that part of stories that fascinates me.

Ollie’s Thomasz – (33 years old)

How do stories do that?

There are loads of tools that writers use to make up a story and I will get to them as I write more posts on the subject, but one of the simplest ways to explain how they become deeply personal, is to think of it like this: stories are a way to see from someone else’s perspective but reading a story is only one half of the task. As a reader, you have to put in a little work too; you have to be the one that turns those words into images and thoughts.

Amber’s Thomasz (emoji filtered) – (32 years old)

If I said, “Thomasz was a towering man, with frizzy curly hair that stuck out from under a faded baseball cap. He had piercing blue eyes, a gold-hoop earring and a jagged scar down his left cheek”, and then asked you to draw what I described, you’d all probably come up with someone who had all those features, but they won’t look the same.

Paul’s Thomasz – (41 years old)

We could all read the same book, but based on our own experiences, emotions, imagination, we’ll probably have a different understanding of it by the end. To help prove the point, I asked my friends to draw their version of Thomasz and they gave me the awesome, similar but different, pictures in this post.

Like I mentioned in posts for geeks., watching a film or reading a book a second time round, or after a few years, could change the way you interpret it altogether… maybe you missed something the first time round or your life experience has given you a new point of view. Your version of a story is entirely dependent on you.

As I grew up, the stories I read became a bit more complex than Spot the Dog. I liked R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps collection and Stephen King novels in my teens and then as I got older still, I would read Herman Melville and the works of Oscar Wilde. Now that I have a bit more of a grip on the bits that make a story up, I want to take you through some of them from one of my favourite stories from school; Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Although I read it and wrote about it in school there’s a lot that I just couldn’t understand until I got a bit older. It’s jam-packed with writing devices that bend the mind and I think it’d be a perfect start for posts for geeks.

spice girls: part 1

Eight years old.

That’s how old I was when Spice World, the Spice Girls movie came out in 1997.

Spice World: the movie 1997

I remember knowing every single dance move and every word of every song. I had their official Spice Fever cheap bubble bomber jacket that I wore until there were big tears with fluff coming out.

Let’s just say, like millions of other young Girls, my sister and I thought we were real Mini-Spices!

To many of us Generation Y kids, they were the original Girl Band. Baby, Ginger, Posh, Scary and Sporty – a girl for almost every personality. Good or Bad – thousands of us Loved It.

Imagine my excitement when my Dad’s Girlfriend messaged me and my sister to say she was dragging us both, with her friend, to see Spice Girls on my 30th birthday (courtesy of Dad’s bank account – thank you, Dad).

Geri, Mel C, Emma, Mel B

The date was June 4th. The place was Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

No expense would be spared. This was the concert of our lives. There were going to be t-shirts, dress-ups, playlists and poses!!!

On the lead up to an event we had been waiting for months, we made so many plans for the day, it had to be just right.

So naturally, when it came to the actual day, a LOT of things went wrong.

THIRTY

I had been lucky enough to have a birthday party planned by my friends on the 1st of June. It was Festival themed – with tents, music, a BBQ and acrobatics in the grass. Despite my friend Amber, spraying us all down numerous times with bug repellent, I was bitten by some cheeky little nipper on my foot.

Nevermind, one bite is annoying, but manageable, ay? Hahahaa, nope!

As midnight rolled over and the 3rd of June became the 4th (my birthday), I was on the phone to emergency doctors worried I may need my foot amputating. Of course, I was being dramatic but I did have a bad infection and I spent the early hours of the morning seeing a GP who had to prescribe me with antibiotics (for a brief moment I was devastated until he advised me that alcohol was not a problem with this particular brand – what a win).

Off I went, hobbling home in pain, now dreading the concert I had looked forward to for the most part of the year.

I flopped into bed gobbling down my first Antibiotic, and with a cold flannel on my poorly, bright red and purple throbbing balloon ankle I tried to sleep.

When I woke up a few hours later I threw back my covers in a panic because I could still feel the ache. Although it still looked like I’d been bitten by zombie, my leg was a lot less swollen. Thank God, I thought.

Keep your leg up, everyone said – and ohhh did intend to. There was a two and a half hour journey to Coventry – plenty of resting time.

From a mixture of road-rage, stress and headaches I’d given up my car over a year ago, but I could still bomb about in my Dad’s if I needed to. On this occasion though, Dad’s girlfriend, Sam had opted to drive so I looked forward to keeping my leg firmly rested on the back seat.

We all planned to meet at my Dad’s house, so at 9.30am my sister picked me up with my bags.

I was surprised to walk through the door and see banners, balloons, party poppers, a cake, cards, presents, a breakfast banquet and everyone lined up shouting Happy Birthday.

I was immediately happier. The ache in my foot was fading away and being replaced by excited squeals.

So, let me introduce you to the Spice Girls from Hull. There was me, I was Sporty Spice. Alex (my sister) was Scary Spice. Sam (Dad’s Girlfriend) was Baby spice. Kate (Sam’s bestie) was Ginger Spice (Posh spice wasn’t doing the tour so we weren’t too bothered about finding our 5th traitor Spice).

After a photo shoot by Dad (a real photographer), we had our t-shirts on and our bags packed – the car loaded up and Spice Girls CD at the ready; so it was time to get on the road.

– oh, er after we went to Asda… Oh, and then the petrol station… Oh, and back home for the SatNav…

That was it, really…

…but just as I got my poorly leg sprawled out on the back seat (over my sister’s legs) -“Oh no”, shouts Sam, as we set off for the 3rd time, “I haven’t taxed my car”. We all look at each other.

“I’m on it”, shouts Alex, “what’s your Reg Number?”

They to-and-fro questions and answers as Alex tries to make the transaction on her phone.

“Unable to complete- MOT Out of Date. Sam, when is your MOT due?” Says Alex.

“Whaaaaat?” Squeals Sam. “Not for, like, another month. Let me call your Dad.”

At this point we are only approaching the town centre and not too far away from home.

“Dean, we can’t tax my car it says the MOT is out of date”.

“Whaaaaat?” He laughs down the speaker phone. “Hang on, let me have a look.” There’s a pause, some scrambling and paper-shuffling noises at the other side of the line — “Sam, it ran out yesterday.”

“Saaaaam” Me, Kate and Alex shout in unison.

Sam let’s out a nervous giggle and a much quieter “Oh No”. We all see her look about the car and realise she needs to pull over.

“Dad, I shout from the back, can you get your car to us on St Andrews Quay? We will pull over there. You can take Sam’s car home and we will take yours.”

“Going to have to, aren’t I”, he chuckles.

The phone clicks off. There’s a silence before we all burst out laughing and start ribbing Sam.

“I can’t believe it, I thought it was next month”, obviously a bit shocked, she then says, “erm, I can’t drive your Dad’s car though”. Before anyone can get anymore concerned about the situation –

“Don’t worry I love that little Golf”, I pipe up, “it’s a right go-er, I’ll do it.”

“What about your leg though?!” She says, a little worried.

We turn into the car park of the Quay.

“It’ll be fine, I’ll only be using it to accelerate, if it gets bad, you might have to bite the bullet – but Kate and Alex can both drive too. We’ll be fine.”

Thirty minutes pass and my little brother rolls into the car park.

“Yayyyy,” we all cheer, “Thanks Ben.”

We repack the cars, going from a 2006 Ford Fusion 1.6 TdCi to a 2006 Golf 2 Litre SDI 60mpg car in a few minutes. We weren’t messing about.

I strap myself in, adjust the mirrors, make the seat low and get into gear.

We tear out the car park before Sam shouts again, “Oh no, WE LEFT THE CD IN THE OTHER CAR!”

More laughs!!

“Let’s just get there shall we”, Kate and Alex shout.

to be continued…