Liberty - In Some of the Nineties

Georgia Byng

When I was seven, I wrote my first book. It was rude. I was desperate to write it.

At the time there was a rude rhyme flying around the school playground. Everybody loved it. I thought it was excellent. It conjured up a fantastically funny image. It was inspiring. I simply had to write it down. I wanted the thrill of seeing my pen write the poem’s rude words and then I wanted to write the rhyme into a longer rude poem. So that is what I did. I wrote nine more verses and made a little book. I laminated the book – actually it wasn’t properly laminated, it was just stuck on see-through plastic, coloured in with pink felt tip. It was called ‘In Some Of The Nineties’ and on its back I wrote ‘A Ladder Book’.

I wrote it because I had the urge to write it.  And it taught me that I never had to ask any one’s permission before I wrote something.

There were lots of things I did have to ask permission for in those days.

Even though it was the seventies when children biked everywhere, if I was going over three miles I had to get permission. I was supposed to mention it if I was planning to hitch hike – which we used to do even at age eight, the most memorable trip being one in a disabled man’s car where the driver only had one arm. I had to beg to watch late TV. I had to get the nod to go round to a friend’s house to play. And I had to plead for ice cream. But I didn’t have to get permission to write.

I could take a piece of paper and write whatever the fuck I wanted… Even now, rude words on the page appeal to me. The way that one can write anything, absolutely anything is really, really exciting to me.

When I was seven it was amazing to realise this writing freedom. I could imagine anything and write it down, write rude things about horrible teachers or the bullies at school. I was in control. I could show the finished result to anyone I wanted.

I had daydream fantasies that were a bit outrageous… like the one where at school I got a magic power and all the teachers in assembly lost their clothes. I could write this down and make the idea of them naked and embarrassed even more real and concrete. They might pick on me, but I could humiliate them in my writing. It felt good.

But it wasn’t just by writing that I was free to express myself.

My parents were open minded, and fairly unshockable, so I could make what I wanted.

Once, I made my father a wonderful book for his birthday. I found a big pile of ‘The Sun’ newspaper in a garage. I carefully tore out every page three (for non-British people reading this, page three always had and still has a daily picture of a woman with her top off) and I bound the whole lot together and called the book ‘The Book Of Boobs’.  My dad loved his birthday present. My parents always encouraged creativity.  

I was lucky. Some children aren’t encouraged or even allowed to express themselves. Some children wouldn’t dare write something rude, or something that shows adults in a bad light, as they will get into big trouble for it. Oh dear. This is a bad start.

These kids are denied the pleasure and the feeling of empowerment that is got from saying exactly what you want. They are not allowed a voice. They don’t realize that they have a right to be heard and tolerated.

When I talk to children in schools I often read them ‘In some of the Nineties’, and they always love it.  I explain to them that they have the freedom, at home, to write whatever they want. That beyond-the-world is their oyster, that they can play God and make up whatever they like, their only limit being their imagination. They can experiment with ideas, write down how they see the world and how they think it should be. They can criticize, ridicule, praise, adore, describe, amuse, invent - say whatever they like.

Our children must know this liberty. For once tasted it isn’t forgotten.  We must have an army of people who know deep down in themselves what freedom of expression is.

I am a children’s writer. My view is often through the eyes of a child. I also see the child in adults that I meet. I am very aware that the future is in the hands of our children, and I love the thought that we have the power to produce children who are better people than any people ever before.

So let’s take care to let our children write their rude poems. They will learn about freedom of expression and tolerance and they in turn will pass the good ways on to their children too.

And the world will become even more wonderful.

Here is what I wrote, as well as the genius original verse that I heard on the playground, which is in bold.

 

IN SOME OF THE NINETIES.

 

In Ninety Sixty One,

I had a little son

I knew he was bad,

But he was all I had

In Ninety Sixty One.

 

In Ninety Sixty Two

The Queen went to the loo

She bumped her bum

And said, ‘Oh Mum!’

In Ninety Sixty Two

 

In Ninety Sixty Three

The Queen went to the wee

She did her wee

Out came a flea

In Ninety Sixty Three

 

In Ninety Sixty Four

I locked the Queen’s big door

She laid on the floor

I opened the door

In Ninety Sixty Four

 

In Ninety Sixty Five

I saw the Queen’s big hive

I saw the bees

They stung her knees

In Ninety Sixty Five

 

In Ninety Sixty Six

The Queen pulled down her nicks

She licked her bum

And said ‘Yum yum’

In Ninety Sixty Six                        

 

I wrote the next bit today.

 

In Ninety Sixty Seven

The Queen experienced heaven

She wasn’t a queen

But a woman orgasming.

In Ninety Sixty Seven

 

In Ninety Sixty Eight,

She was late for a royal date

She sat in bed, and held her head

In Ninety Sixty Eight.

 

In Ninety Sixty Nine

The Queen felt it was time

She let down her hair

Threw her crown in the air

In Ninety Sixty Nine.

 

In Ninety Sixty Ten

The Queen picked up her pen

She started to write

It felt groovy and right

In Ninety Sixty Ten

 

In Some of the Nineties        Georgia Byng

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia Byng grew up beside The River Itchen, in Hampshire. She writes children’s books.

Her first published book was a comic strip, The Sock Monsters. She went on to write the Molly Moon series about a child hypnotist. Recently she co-wrote and co-produced the movie, Molly Moon And The Incredible Book of Hypnotism. Now, she is writing the screenplay for Molly Moon Stops the World.

She lives in London with her husband, Marc Quinn, and their two sons, and she has a twenty three year old daughter too.

 

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