DP Writing challenge 3
I was young then. We’re all young once. The drawing was naive to say the least, but as a child of seven I was taken up with the glory, the form, the frenzy of red coated infantrymen and Zulus locked in mortal combat. In the dim distance a critical negation of colonialism and slavery cast a shadow as yet unseen across the horizon. It didn’t appear in my drawing, there wasn’t room. The landscape was filled with tropical fronds and warring factions. It was a ferocious drawing in pencil and Christmas-gift-set felt pens.
My mother still remembers my creative technique. How appropriate, for my life would one day be dominated by the pithy mental exercises of philosophy. Each drawing populated by people, especially warriors, would begin as a sea of heads. Topees and tribal headdresses filled the page, harbingers to the imminent arrival of embodied warmongers. Or missionaries. Was I a closet dualist perhaps? Never mind, for now this drawing captured in technicolour pen the hot hazardous landscape, the smell of cordite and the teeth jarring metal-on-metal sounds of combat. It was so… heroic.
I drew the drawing hardly drawing breath as I did so. In response to a feature on Blue Peter, the Zulu warriors once again relived for me their tragic blood red demise. But I was not just excited about the action; this was a masterpiece, though I hardly knew the term. I expected to be rewarded. I was entranced by the struggle right across the page. My mother loved the drawing too and she was my most reliable critic, always ready to give aid to the doubting. I sent the drawing in to the Connoisseurs in Blue, trusting them to recognise my artistic promise.
A tape recorder; with clickable controls, set out like piano keys and a ridged grill into which was set a hinged window for the tape, this was what my heart yearned after. I would have joined either side on my lurid page, given my allegiance to light infantry or nearly-black tribesmen to win my prize. All my friends had a tape recorder, or so they claimed. I could have been a mercenary to get one.
Eventually my prize arrived. As I opened the parcel, a rare treat, the postman had had to knock, I knew my masterpiece had won a prize that did not fit the shape of my expectations. The flat package slipped out of the envelope as my bright impregnable artistic self-esteem sank into melancholic dismay. How could this be? I would never trust the artistic judgement of adults again. A ‘How Annual’. A book. About Science. How.