• Anthony Balkwill

    17 November 2023 at 11:25

    The Book of Grum

    The book is a bildungsroman about Graham Turnbull, who calls himself Grum. The only child of a single parent (who suffers from agoraphobia), Grum is uncomfortable around other people. It’s about him growing up and eventually working for a big tech company writing code for artificial intelligence. In this scene, Grum is on his first day at school, and has just hung his robot-themed backpack on a peg in the classroom, without being told. The peg has a robot picture on it, which made Grum think it must be for him.

    Start: Grum is anxious and disoriented. He doesn’t know if he’s doing the right thing.

    All the other children still had their backpacks on their shoulders as they sat on the carpet. Grum sat down and looked anxiously across the room at his robot backpack hanging on the peg. Had he done the right thing? What was on the list which Miss Trish had gone to find? His tummy had stopped its roiling, but was now hurting with a sharp tightness.

    A little girl with straight, dark hair tied in bunches on either side of a thin-lipped, unsmiling face had sat down next to Grum on the carpet. She leaned towards him and looked hard into his eyes. Her eyes were like two, deep pools of molten chocolate.

    I wanted the robot,” she whispered. “You stole it. You’re a thief.”

    Change: The anxiety is ramped up. He’s been accused of being a thief, and becomes increasingly aware of how uncomfortable and strange everything is.

    Grum felt his face going hot, and the paper, paint, and watery smell of the room suddenly became chokingly intense. He looked down at the carpet and saw that it was marked out like a snakes and ladders board. He was sitting on one of the ladders, but he couldn’t work out if he was at the top or bottom of it. He shuffled his bottom uncomfortably, and felt the sharp pain move in his tummy. The girl leaned in towards him again, “What’s your name, thief?” she asked in a whisper.

    “Grum,” answered Grum. “No, Graham.”

    End: He’s accidentally revealed his weird nickname (His mum had warned him to remember he’s called Graham at school). He associates himself with being horrid – this will prove very important later on.

    “Grum?” snirtled the girl. “What a horrid name.”

    Grum felt the tight, hot pain flood from his tummy up into his face, and down into his bottom. He had forgotten to remember that his name at school was Graham, not Grum.

    “You’ve got a horrid name. And a horrid face.” The girl shuffled herself a few more inches away and turned her head to look at the distant pegs where the robot backpack hung accusingly.

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