“You were robbed”

Sunday Blog 85 – 21st May 2023

Every family has their little sayings. “You were robbed” was something our father would say to us whenever we, say, got 90% in a test. It was always said in jest, and wrapped in a general cocoon of his pride and kindness.

Recently and rather impulsively, I decided I would try my hand at the RTR Radio presenter’s course which is run regularly. I wanted to test out some of the ideas I have had about podcasting. Mainly I wanted to learn more about writing for broadcasting. I wasn’t so sure about all the techie skills required but I figured I could work it out. I mean, it all looked simple when we went through it with the tutor. I have been using computers since the 1980s after all and consider myself a relatively geeky person. But when I found myself alone at the desk, all alone, I just couldn’t do a single thing. The manual from class just wasn’t helpful and I couldn’t seem to get the You Tube videos to work.

I’m not sure when the last time was for you that you were learning a new skill and hit that boiling point of frustration. It has been a while for me because I’m generally doing things I have done many times before. That’s one of the benefits of being older. We have Experience behind us.

Faced with the presenters desk, I knew I was stumped. I mean sure, I was over-tired but I was surprised by how much the frustration pushed at my chest, dredged up the tears until they stood out on my lashes. The hour of studio time elapsed with me no further ahead except in being able to access my inner three year old.

I took myself and my inner child over the road for a bite to eat and a glass of wine, pulled out my journal for some catharsis. The tears were liberated by this and my napkin was soon quite soggy. That’s another benefit of being my age – not you’re experienced, but you’re also invisible. You can cry in public and no-one will ask if you’re OK.

The waitress delivered the food and wine and retreated after a quick look at my face. Then I remembered I had booked another session in the studio in an hour’s. I opened up my laptop towards me to cancel. I knew I was beat.

Then I saw the email.

I had placed second in a writing competition.

After decades of writing in the dark. 8 years alone on have been lavished on the last manuscript, with thousands of words written and abandoned and written again. In recent months I’ve been submitting regularly. Every entry has disappeared into the ether, with occasionally a “thanks but no thanks” response.

This particular submission was for the Fremantle Roundhouse. It was a thought-provoking prompt about the European executed in the colony of Western Australia. A 15-year-old boy John Gavin who had only been in Western Australia a matter of months, after having been sent out from Parkhurst Boys Home on the Isle of Wight.

The intense discomfort of my failed studio session was suddenly flooded by the intense excitement of this news. I was pressed my soggy napkins to my eyes and sobbed even more energetically. It was amazing how the frustration and the joy felt, well almost as powerful as each other.

When I awoke the next day I’d largely forgotten about the discomfort of struggling with learning new skills. But the delight in having placed in the writing competition was as strong as ever.

Then I could just hear my Dad’s voice in my head. He’s been gone three years now, but I could swear I heard him say “You were robbed!”

You can click on the link below if you want to read the winning entries:


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