30 day writing challenge – Day 4 Create a character off the top of your head and write a short history about him/her.

Day 4 of http://writewithfey.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/chrys-feys-30-day-writing-challenge.html –  Create a character off the top of your head and write a short history about him/her. Looking at this, it is more like the opening scene including the character rather than a biography but here it is anyway.

Matt Murphy was assessing himself in the mirror. He was in a suit which was becoming less unusual but still seemed a little strange. He tugged briefly at his tie. it was his first proper day at Hilltop High  – yesterday had been teachers only – and he was trying to decide exactly which thing it was that the kids would find the most hilarious. He was tall – 6ft 1 – and extremely skinny so it could be that. Or his unruly hair. Or his tendency towards camp exaggeration. Or his broad scouse accent in the middle of South Yorkshire. Or…

He made himself stop. Probably it would be some, as yet, unrealised fault. He thought of the text that had just come and which had prompted the self-assessment. It was from Steph, a teacher already for some ten years. She had tried to talk him out of it. Do something better, she had said. He hadn’t listened. The text had said Good Luck in the lion’s den. Very fucking funny. 

He was thirty three years old. Too old to be starting a career. Not even a new career. The first one. Unless working in a pub counted as a career which he doubted. Maybe that would work in his favour. The fact that he looked older, was starting to go a little grey.

It had been a long road to here. If he failed at this, there was little chance of starting all over again. He wasn’t going to fail though, was he? He realised it would be difficult at first but he imagined that by the end of the term he’d be winning. If he could imagine it, it could happen. That was how it went, wasn’t it?

He didn’t particularly want to remember his own teenage years. He had left home before he was sixteen due to issues with his stepfather. School hadn’t been the easiest of places either. He had just stopped going. GCSEs seemed a minor thing to sacrifice when you were fighting for your life every day. The rest of that year had been spent on whichever floor would have him. He’d got a job at a bar and worked every shift he could. Eventually he had saved enough to get a flat. Then it had been night-school: GCSEs, A-Levels. Working every single second. He hadn’t imagined being a teacher. Just that he wouldn’t always be working in a bar, pulling pints for idiots. No way. 

That was when he had come to Sheffield. University had to be part-time so he could also work. English Literature. Not useful but enjoyable.Then an MA. Then teacher training. All the way up to this present moment.

He wanted it to be over. The first moment. It was like being at the bottom of a steep hill. he couldn’t see what the summit was like from this angle. He needed to be starting to climb. He picked up his briefcase and made for the door. He promptly fell over the corner of the bed. Silently he cursed his clumsiness. That was another possible source of amusement. 

“You look fine. You’ll be fine.” Matt turned towards the bed, towards the voice. He smiled. Mikey had never suffered a moment of nerves in his life. Matt supposed if he looked like that, he wouldn’t be nervous either. He was full of confidence on Matt’s behalf. He had no doubt that Matt would be fine. 

“I didn’t mean to wake you.” In fact, it had been his intention to sneak out quietly. He didn’t want to give Mikey the chance to make a fuss. He was nervous enough already. He didn’t think he could take any of Mikey’s pep-talks at this time in the morning. “I have to go.” He added, hurriedly giving Mikey a kiss on the cheek and then darting out of the door. Miraculously he didn’t collide with any more of the furniture.  

Day two- Favourite side character – Walser, Spud and Ponder Stibbons

As you will discover as this challenge continues, I am incapable of picking a single book for anything. So each post will probably look at two or three books.
My first choice for favourite side character is Walser from- Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
Jack Walser is the straight man to the magical, winged woman Fevvers in Angnights-at-the-circusela Carter’s wonderful tale of mystery and intrigue. In a lot of ways, he performs the function of a reader, incredulous and duped by the amazing Fevvers. He gets drawn into her chaotic world almost against his will and is amazed by her along with the reader.
In the course of the novel, Walser is frequently injured and humiliated. He completely loses himself at one point before being reborn a new and wiser man. As a reader, we feel for him and worry for him, in a way that you don’t have to about Fevvers who is strong and confident and although she gets into scrapes, she seems so together that there seems little need to doubt she will survive.
The reason I like him so much is that as a journalist, he should be cynical but in the face of the Fevvers, he cannot remain so. He is described as unfinished and does not reach his true personality until he has been through his series of adventures and falls for Fevvers in every way.
Spud from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Spud is one of my favourite comic characters. He is involved in one of my favourite incidents in Trainspotting – the job interview which he attends with Renton having taken speed and in which he informs the interviewer that htrainspottingas lied on his application form. Welsh perfectly captures his voice, calling everyone ‘cat’ and ‘kitten’ and showing his eternal optimism and friendliness. Unlike Renton, Sickboy and Begbie, Spud is a warm character who maybe a little naive and hopeless but is not as flawed as the others.
Spud has perhaps the most poignant moment in the novel where he begins to feel close to a woman but loses his nerve after remembering a line from There is a light that never goes out by The Smiths. It is heartbreaking.
Ponder Stibbons from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
If you have ever worked in an office (or wherever) and felt that you were the only sane person in the place, then you will have a great deal of sympathy for my third choice, Ponder Stibbons. He is the only sensible wizard in Unseen University. Having to deal with Arch-chancellor, Ridcully  on a daily basis would try the patience of a saint and Ponder is often on the very edge of his patience. But what is really great about this character is the strategies he employs in order to ensure that things are actually done his way. The way he plays Ridcully is a joy to behold.