Writing workshops: Starter

Creative writing: week 4 starter task (Music Journalism with Ngaire Ruth)

Time yourself for five minutes. Save it.

Journey to ACM by Jonathan Burns

Usually, when I feel motivated to get out of bed at 06:30am in the morning, I can get a lift to Guildford with my dad. We’re ready to leave by 8:00am (yes I know I could get up later, but I have a long morning routine), and we hit the road at ten past. First, we drive out of the suburban heartland that is Walton-on-Thames, passing the rich Burwood Park and St. Georges Hills estates where the big city bankers have already left for the office several hours before us to sell CDO’s and CDS’s and even SCDO’s to mislead clients.

I like this part. The roads are long, well maintained and not too busy – the journey is generally very calm. At this point, my dad tends to break out into a conversation about stuff that I haven’t done yet but need to do. This can be anything from not putting the dishwasher on to not switching the heating off in the log cabin; they tend to be very menial tasks but his tone always makes me feel incredibly guilty. Recently it’s been about booking my Alpybus tickets (my airport transfer) from Geneva to Morzine for the end of the month… which I still haven’t done.

We make a left turn up Seven Hills road after passing the St. Georges Hills roundabout. Many millionaires have crashed their cars, or even driven straight over this roundabout at night. The last incident was only in December and my grandparents were present to the event; lucky them. Anyway, after Seven Hills road, we typically fight to get onto the A3 as the traffic narrows down into one lane. My heart is pounding and I become frustrated at everyone else’s’ reckless driving, even though I’m not the one behind the wheel. This always happens. We struggle to avoid an accident here every day.

Now on the A3, my dad turns 5 Live on (the radio for people who don’t know what it is) where there is usually a heated debate about Brexit and the phrase ‘That’s what 17.4 million British people voted for!’ is repeated every minute by some labour/conservative-backing Brexiteer. After cruising down the A3 for several minutes, we’re fast approaching Guildford with an ETA of 13 minutes. After being undertaken and overtaken by swathes of young drivers in Mercedes, we pull off at Burpham & Merrow interchange to avoid the roadworks at the Guildford A3 junction, that has apparently been going on since the beginning of time. Less than 10 minutes away now, we drive steadily through the back streets of Guildford passing an Intersport, MJA garage and GHS (Guildford High School) until we arrive at the top of North-street or ‘the Chav high street’ as my lecturer likes to call it (I won’t say who, but it’s definitely Mike McNally…). We drive past the dross of North street, you know, TGI Fridays, Creams and that weird stationary shop that should have gone bust ages ago but is still there, until finally we reach the offices of Penningtons Manchies and the free car park space that awaits us below – something of a luxury in Guildford.

Pic: wikihow

Next step (says ed)

If this was a theatre or film, the repeated act of the same radio station topic and viewpoint echoing on day in and day out in the car would shift the reality, that you are both in an intimate, enclosed small area (the car), into showing that you are both already on your own journeys. The moment the sound of the station comes on, the audience knows this journey represents your distance from each other – as is the natural order of things, as the journey’s detail itself, as bloody Guildford High Street. And what about the A3 junction? I would browse Oliver Sack’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat – he’s so good at describing individual facial and physical gestures (as a neurologist, science historian, naturalist and author). Then, when you have the time and if you are inclined, have a go describing apprehension or anxiety or impatience or other emotion? Also recommend Sack’s Musicphillia: Tales of Music And The Brain.


I laugh that it’s the ex Melody Maker people who get a look in here, e.g. McNally and myself. Hard wired good guys or trouble makers? You decide.

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