Guest Blogger: Ian Ayris – If Shakespeare Worked at Tesco . . .

If Shakespeare Worked at Tesco . . . by Ian Ayris.
I have spent the whole of my working life in low paid manual work, ranging from delivering washing machines to working in a record shop, a door factory, a gin factory, and currently spend every weekend cleaning toilets and bathing grown men for a living. 
Now, when I decided to try my hand at writing, I can’t say these employment choices didn’t provide me with a wealth of material, because they did.  In abundance.  The characters, the scrapes, the scams, even the despair and the drudgery.  All of it, ripe for the picking.  
But by the time I decided I wanted to write, I also had three young children.  And I had become a house-husband.  My life had become one of school runs and nappies.  Time ceased to exist in any meaningful form, serving merely as a constant reminder to how far behind it I was. 
In preparation for my career as an aspiring writer, between cooking dinners and sorting the kids out for school and picking them up and listening in stereo as they berated me for forgetting their lunch boxes or their trip money or signing their absence note,  I read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.  Four hours reading and four hours writing, that’s what our Stephen recommends.  Every day.  Without fail.
Every day, I thought.  Blimey.
I started off well.  Staying up late into the night, getting up at silly o’ clock in the morning.  Consuming gallons of coffee just to keep the creative juices flowing and my brain from shutting down.  I’d sometimes get a couple of hours in.  I was doing all right.
But as time went by, and my inadequacies as a house-husband began to reveal themselves in all their shimmering glory, something had to go.  My four hour goal had been reduced to twenty minutes in the morning whilst Peppa Pig looked after the little’un.  Twenty minutes.  Twenty minutes?  How was my writing career ever going to take off in twenty bloody minutes?  I managed to knock out a few short stories, but no more.  And I began to think ‘How does anyone write anything given this sort of life?’ 
[Scene: Tesco.  Frozen Foods]
Enter Williams Shakespeare pushing a cage of fish fingers and Assorted Mixed Veg.]
Shakespeare   : There is a tide in the affairs of men.
                        Which, taken at the flood, leads on to  –
Old Granny     : Excuse me, sonny, can you tell me where the Fig Rolls are?
Shakespeare   : Aisle twenty-four, next to the Bourbons. 
Old Granny shuffles off to be replaced by Mr Section Manager.
Shakespeare   : Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted –
Mr S.M.           : William, the fish fingers. You’re mixing them up with the frozen cod.              Just keep an eye on what you’re doing, son, eh?  It’s not hard.
Shakespeare  : Yes, sir.  Sorry, sir.
Mr Section Manager strides off, indignant, shaking his head.  And young William is left to sort out his frozen fish based error.
So I’m down to twenty minutes Peppa Pig time a day, and I’ve got this idea for a book.  Three years later, and it’s done.  Pretty much.  I ended up writing most of it in my head, then using my Pepper Pig time to hammer them quick as I could onto the computer keyboard, lest they disappear into nothingness.  I’d work out whole sections of dialogue by speaking it aloud pushing the trolley round the supermarket or taking the little’un round the park.  I’m not saying this modus operandi wotsit thing didn’t get me plenty of stares and funny looks, because it did.  But by then, I didn’t care.  All I cared about was getting this book done, and if that meant garnering a certain ‘reputation’ amongst the locals, so be it. 
Over time, I had four short stories published.  In proper books and everything.  But I was floundering in that mid-book swamp that claims so many.  My twenty minutes of Peppa Pig was now spent, more often than not, laying on the settee with the little’un, eyes half closed, exhausted. 
Fear of failure?  Fear of success?  Not enough coffee?  Who can tell.  Who cares.  Bottom line, the book had come to a standstill. 
Then, one day I bumped into a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in ages.  She asked me how I was, what I was doing with myself nowadays.  I told her I’d had a few short stories published and was working on a book.  She asked what it was about.  I had a few loose pages of the manuscript in my bag, and showed them to her.  I watched her eyes as she read, watched the colour come to her cheeks and drain out again.  I knew what I had written was doing something to her.  That’s when I knew I had to finish the book, regardless of the unconscious fears I held or the programming schedule on Nickelodeon. 
[Scene: Tesco.  Frozen Foods]
Enter William Shakespeare, emptying the last of the Assorted Mixed Veg. into the freezer.
Shakespeare :  Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we –
Floor Manager, on loud speaker :  Mr Shakespeare.  Spillage in Aisle Twenty-One.                        Tomato sauce and mayonnaise.  Thank you.
Shakespeare, quietly, to himself, wandering over to the aforementioned aisle :                            On such a full sea are we now afloat,
                        And we must take the current when it serves,
                        Or lose our ventures.
See, if William Shakespeare had worked at Tesco, he would still have written all those amazing plays, all those beautiful sonnets.  Because when the fire burns that bright, when it burns so much it hurts, you just do it.  No excuses, no whining, no nothing.  You find a way, you use up every spare second, and you just bloody do it.  Because you know deep down, right deep down, getting it out, all these stories, all these voices, all these words, is the only chance you’ve got to make sense of yourself.
BIO: Ian Ayris has had several short stories published, all of which can be found in the various ‘Radgepackets‘ published by Byker Books. He is a devoted husband, father, and support of the Mighty Dagenham & Redbridge, although his wife might dispute the first, and possibly the second.

Links Otis

Published by PaulDBrazill

A writer and teacher, from England and living in Poland. 'The Poundland Poe.' Books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, and Gumshoe Blues. This/ That/ & The Other.

%d bloggers like this: