In my last two years in junior school I was fortunate enough to have an amazing teacher. Her name was Mrs Ridgeley, and if that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because her son, Andrew, was in the 80’s pop group Wham! with George Michael.
As exciting as it was to listen to their records in the classroom, and to see the joy and pride on Mrs Ridgeley’s face, the lasting impression this wonderful lady had on me was one of creativity and hard work.
There was never a dull moment in her lessons. She brought imagination and enthusiasm to each task. I learned about the political bias between different newspapers, how to draw a daffodil, who the Normans were, and some basic words of French. But I also learned about life.
One subject I particularly treasured was “Creative Writing”. As I was going through an old chest recently I came upon my creative writing books and Mrs Ridgeley’s words leapt out of the page at me.
“Some very good ideas here, Susanna, but you could have made it a “top-class” story by using a little more thought, imagination, and effort. Read my notes – it will help you improve to become a really good writer – you could be, but you’ve got to work harder at it.!”
Sadly, Mrs Ridgeley is no longer with us, but these words from beyond the grave are teaching me even to this day. I am a natural thinker, just like the Rodin statue, and yet I hardly ever give myself enough time to just think. When I do, good things happen. It is good to be reminded of this.
Until recently I was afraid of where my imagination would take me. I suffered from a lot of nightmares as a child, and still have them today. If I give my mind free reign I am scared that I will end up in a very dark place. Yet when I do play inside my head I find beautiful things, like the map of Freodholm I have shown to you before. Mrs Ridgeley reminds me that my imagination is my trusted friend, who will take me to amazing places I’ve never been before.
Finally there’s the issue of effort. Part of my problem is that I am a perfectionist, and want to be brilliant at something first time round. One thing I have learned from my knitting group is that honing a craft can take years. It’s only when I look back at the mistakes I have made that I realise how far I have come. Writing is a journey, not a destination, and I just need to keep plodding along.
So thank you Mrs Ridgeley, for your creative thought, imagination, and hard work. Above all else, thank you for your unending patience. I write today because of you.