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Page last updated at 06:46 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 07:46 UK
Storytelling at school

Teenage boy writing
Authors will lead weekly after-school creative-writing workshops
While universities have writers-in-residence, it's more unusual for a school to have one.

But thanks to a charity called First Story, eight secondary schools in London are to receive a writer-in-residence. The idea is to improve literacy and foster creativity.

Author William Fiennes is the director of the charity and was persuaded to become writer-in-residence at Cranford Community College in Houslow, west London.

He says that many of the students he taught began by handing in JK Rowling or adventure, Bond-style pieces, he convinced them that their own, often multicultural, stories were worth telling.

One of those students was Esther Nicholls, who is in the sixth form at Cranford Community College.


I Remember by Esther Nicoll

I remember the 5th June 1993: I became big sister to a podgy, chubby-cheeked baby, Christopher. My parents kept telling me I was too young to hold him.

I remember the first time I heard 'Rock Around the Clock'. It was in our German grandparents' flat. Chris was sitting on a huge mustard yellow bear which had one eye hanging from a thread. He jumped up and down on his bottom half in time with the music, hands and head shaking - the mini rock prodigy.

I remember his sparkling eyes and toothless smile.

I remember my first day at Kindergarten. I was made to sleep in a dark room at lunchtime but all I could hear was the other children playing outside. Chris loved it. I hated it.

I remember my first school picture. I had an individual photo and a photo with my little brother. I was missing my front teeth. He was missing most of his.
Pen
I stared at the bed above me until my lids felt too heavy and I fell asleep

I remember winter in Hof. It would snow right up to my knees and Opa, my granddad, would push me and Chris down the hill in a sledge. The cold made his eyes water, tears trailing down his blazing cheeks and large round nose - three red beacons on his frosted face.

I remember snowball fights with my aunt Tina.

I remember setting up the Christmas shop every year in my room until eventually Chris and I grew too big to serve anything behind the counter.

I remember our pact against the Tooth Fairy. We agreed to stay up whenever we lost a tooth just to prove it was our parents taking them. We knew it was them but never managed to stay up long enough.

I remember the night Chris and I switched places on the bunk bed. I couldn't get to sleep because the light was different. Shadows seemed larger, objects changed shape. The witch doll in the window which never bothered me before became scary. I stared at the bed above me until my lids felt too heavy and I fell asleep.

I remember the nightmare about the riders in the wood chasing me.

I remember sleeping between mum and dad when I got scared.

I remember Chris gloating that he was the 'good' baby and always slept at night.

I remember granddad playing accordion.

I remember composing a song called 'Sing Song' on the guitar with my dad and performing it at his birthday party.

I remember playing teacher with all my cuddly toys and Chris. He was the only one ever paying real attention.

I remember the day me and Chris, and Denis and Marcel from upstairs, went exploring the busy road behind the garden hedge. We were always told never to go there. It was the first day we truly rebelled.

I remember jumping off the garden sheds. The light brown one was more exciting because it was higher. "Get off the shed!" Nana would call from the kitchen.

I remember using the gaps between the sheds and the fence as a den. Chris and I made a lemonade bottle time capsule and buried it there.

I remember clearing out the shed and finding all of dad's old toys and his brown, dust-ridden monkey doll.

I remember Nana always saying "Shut the door" and "Don't go past the end of the road, mind."

I remember the cardboard house from IKEA. We painted it and set it up one night in Chris's room and stayed up listening to tapes and talking. Dad came down at three in the morning and told us to go to sleep.

I remember the tapes we made - karaoke shows and our own little soap called 'The Dick', inspired by Chris's homework about the naked ancient Greek Olympics contestants.

I remember trying to hide the tapes from dad. He wasn't allowed to know about 'The Dick'.

I remember the Lolly CD dad got from work. We sang along to it in the garden and later added a pantomime to the show. My best friend Tanya was Widow Twanky. She had so much make-up on.

I remember mum telling us to fill the paddling pool up with cold water, but we were determined to have it warm. Tanya and I carried buckets and buckets of steaming hot water from the utility room to the pool. Chris didn't help. He just sat, soaking in all our hard work.

I remember looking through boxes in the guest room and finding all our old Fashing carnival clothes. Chris was on my back so he could see the higher boxes. My back suddenly felt warm…Then wet.

I remember him blaming the 'accident' on his youth.

I remember taking Chris on summer nature trails in the wooden cart we used for Fashing carnivals in Germany.

I remember the day the cart broke.

I remember taking pictures of dead animals on my phone, the one of the squashed rat with an eye popping out and the pigeon who had his insides eaten.

I remember Chris's wild punches, kicks and screams.

I remember slapping him.

I remember his mad eyes, and being scared.

I remember us crying, and stopping the fight when we really got hurt.

I remember telling him I wished he'd change.

I remember Nana telling me Chris would be my best friend when I was older.

I remember making up.

I remember Nana in hospital.

I remember having to remind her who I was.

I remember my parents coming home from the hospital one night telling us it was a quick, peaceful death.

I remember everyone saying "she should have lived to a hundred".

I remember sticking up for Chris the day the Springwell Infants caretaker saw him climbing over the fence into our garden. Dad told us that's what he used to do.

I remember bitching about the caretaker after. It was our fence. It was our garden.

I remember the crazy woman at the bus stop claiming that Chris had pushed her into the puddle. He hadn't, but he apologised. She started on about manners and the way we'd been brought up and I wanted to punch her in the mouth.

I remember endless gaming in the music room. Guitar Hero I, II, III, and Timesplitters. Legend.
Pen writing
I remember Radio 4's Any Questions at school and how Chris's question was chosen right before mine

I remember going to Game City in Nottingham with Chris, Roland and Manny.

I remember Jay's bathroom floor. It was virtually all I saw the night I got drunk at his party.

I remember aiming for the toilet then veering to the right, bashing my head on the shower and crawling back to puke.

I remember Chris being beside me all six times I chucked.

I remember making pasta alla manky water at home with Chris and Roland. It had too much salt and was accidentally dipped in old washing-up water.

I remember it was night-time and it was dark.

I remember Chris saying, "That's game, set and match!" and "Breathe!" when I was playing tonsil tennis with Joe.

I remember my face burning.

I remember Chris burning everything - candles, plastic, leaves.

I remember Radio 4's Any Questions at school and how Chris's question was chosen right before mine.

I remember thinking maybe I wasn't the big sister anymore.


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