Monday, 10 August 2009


Hit and Run Magazine is a blogzine that features sketches of the writing process. This is a sketch they published in April 2009, with notes from an unfinished novel that would be salvaged for a flash short story I wrote this year called 'The Film' based on a real life event where my Year 7 Catholic high school all boys class was shown a propaganda movie on abortion.

Text from the sketch:

... would be: start with the "Fires all enclosed in drums bit, the boy in high school, Year 7, I think or maybe Year 8, but probably Year 7 being forced to watch (als along with his classmates, a film about abortion, the one from the ’50s, you know...

Maybe, instead of a boy, as in the original manuscript, it could be a girl. I can relate more to the male, though. Perhaps it is a boy who goes on to date a woman (Celeste?) who is going to terminate her child.

So, something like: SCENE INT 1980 1979, EXAM HALL

"We see the bright, orange roar of fire in close-up. The fires are in drums to keep the large exam examination hall warm. Students file in and sit, we do not see their faces. Whispers from the students (we now see they are all boys), giggles, seats scraping, squealing the ways seats do. We have We see priests in white robes rushing around, nuns, too.

Priest #1
(Irish accent)
Silence, please!

Boy #1
(to a nun)
Sister, are we seeing a film?

The image to the left has nothing to do with the story, just a John Lennon-like sketch. The words BACKAWARDS TRAVELER are from another, so far unpublished short story about time travel.


and the finished short story:

The Film
by Matthew Ward

In the 1970s Jack attended an all boys Catholic high school. One day in 1st year his class was told to go to the hall to watch a film.

Other boys having already seen the movie said it was a porno. Why the Church would want them to watch blue movies, Jack didn’t stop to think. Afterall, this was primo erotica and he didn’t have to sit through another boring hour about Jesus.

Inside the hall the lights were dimmed and a WWII vintage projector was operated by a WWII vintage priest.

Boys fidgeted with excitement as scratchy images of loose women in the backs of Chevs, in public parks, and at the beach locked lips with boys with buzzcuts who smoked cigarettes and fumbled with teenage bras.

The boys’ looks of wonderment turned to horror when the narrator showed them how 5 minutes of passion could turn into murder!

Footage of discarded foetuses scarred Jack’s brain.

He wanted to leave, like others did too but they couldn’t. Priests and nuns blocked the doors. Two boys vomited.

The film had done its job. Afterwards Jack knew that when he was old enough to have sex he’d use condoms.



I wanted to make the point that the Catholic school system was archaic even then, 1950s films shown in the 1980s, and the idea that the film would scare boys to never use abortion as an option would instead encourage them to use contraception.

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