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Members of the first writing group I attended included a seventy-four year old man who had just started writing. A very nice kind lady tried to introduce all types of writing to the beginners who attended her workshops. We completed various writing exercises in the classroom environment and were given an assignment to complete by the next lesson.
One week we were assigned the task of writing a piece based on our own personal experience of a historical event. Unsurprisingly, everyone in the class had memories of a historical event even if they were somewhat detached from it.
Each of us read out our piece for the others to listen to and critique. I remember one person telling the story of her visit to London on 20 July 1982 when the IRA bombed Hyde Park. She described her childhood disappointed at being unable to see Madame Tussauds waxworks that day because of the security clampdown. The only other story I remember was by the old man. His story took us right to the heart of the event. As he told the story I witnessing the event unfold as if before my eyes. The story had me on the edge of the seat with anticipation.
This nail-biting story told how he and a friend were leaving to go for a routine training run on 6 May 1954. His dad stopped him as he left his house saying that something historical could happen in the next few minutes. Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old British medical student, was to try to run a mile in under four minutes.
The writer told how he listened to the race on the radio with his father and friend. He transported us back over fifty-eight years and captured the excitement of everything that happened. He told his story simply and with passion. I knew what had happened on that day in May 1954. Nearly every British child of my generation did. But when I heard his story in May 2012, I was captured by it. We all were. This outstanding short story is one that I will remember for ever.
It wasn't fiction. There were no clever twists and turns. The old man's simple tale tells me two important things about writing. Firstly, you are never too old to start writing. Secondly, any writer who is able to convey passion and excitement through simple easy to understand writing will captivate his readership.