I’m bored. Nothing ever happens in this crummy town; even the beach is a snooze, full of old people in cardigans shuffling along the front looking for cheap tearooms. They shout and wave their walking sticks at you if you so much as pass ‘em fast on your scooter. Nothin’ for kids to do here, nowhere to go.
There’s the Skate Park though which is OK, but a bit small. Loads of us go there most days in the summer. Could spend hours there ‘cept when the big kids from Whiteways Estate come an’ take over. When they turn up it’s time to split.
Then I go over to the old flats by the station. They’re all boarded up now, waitin’ for the demolition men. Best thing is them big boards. You should see the kewel stuff that’s up there. Some of the best tags I’ve ever seen, ‘n there’s always somethin’ new every time you go.
Same today, I hadn’t been for a week or so ‘cause the parents wouldn’t stop draggin’ us round the shops or visiting relatives. Even more of a snore, ‘cept if I get given some money or somethin’, like when Gran and Granddad gave me this neat book about how to do Manga Drawings – way chill. I’m practisin’ that a lot, that’s what I really want to do -all the time if I could.
So I get to the flats an’ I see this awesome new board. Taller ‘an me and way wide; I was face to face with this huge Tiger- person. Like with a ginormous head, with seven glowing eyes and a human body with loads of arms an’ legs like those Indian gods you see.
I just stand there for ages staring at it. It was way chill. Then I get this odd idea the eyes are watching me. I shake my head and blink, then, I swear it turns its head and smiles a toothy grin at me. I gasp and swallow hard, am I seeing things? I step forward to touch the picture to see if it was real, and as I do, Tiger- person puts out a hand and like beckons to me. I’m gob smacked … before I could think, I’m leaning closer. As I touch it, the board kinda softens and my arm sinks into it.
Suddenly the Tiger person’s hand is holding mine and guiding me forward until I’m IN the picture. I tell you, my head’s spinning now; all the bright colours are shining and dazzling me, but it feels warm and happy. I’m holding hands with this weird Tiger- person and we start to move through a forest of cool colours and images like. Stuff you’ve never seen before.
We’re moving faster an’ faster now, then I look down and we’re actually flying through the air, looking out over the town and the countryside beyond. We swoop down to a street in the city and land in a square I’ve never seen before. Lookin’ round I see all the walls of the buildings are covered with the most mind-boggling pictures you ever seen. Not just great characters, but they’re moving around, playing games and pretend fighting with each other:
I can even hear ‘em talking too, and they’re talking to me. I stop in my tracks, what’s happening? I listen hard, yes, did I hear my name? Yes, Jes, you can join us if you like; we’ll show you what you can really do.
I look down and find I’ve got a spray can in one hand and a paint brush in the other. Tiger- person has melted away and a small group of goggle-eyed little characters are gathered around me smiling and babbling all at once.
One taller one, looking like one of those Olympic Mascots, with like only one eye and lime green skin but friendly-looking anyway, steps closer. He puts an arm round me and steers me round the corner to a big blank wall.
‘Hey Jes, we got this ready for you. Go ahead, it’s all yours.’
‘But I dunno where to start, I can’t do it’- I sez, totally fazed by now.
‘Yo, we’ve been keeping an eye on you’ says One-Eye, leaning over me, ‘we know a good’un when we see one. You’re a natural.’
‘How do you mean, keeping an eye on me?’ – thinking this is totally weird as I look in his one eye, ‘You’re not real.’
‘We’re as real as anything you can imagine’ * says One-Eye. ‘You have an idea, you think yourself into it, breathe life into it and so it appears – before your eyes; how much more real does it have to get?’
Takes me a while to get my head round that one, but as I stand there thinking about it, a small idea creeps into my brain. I’ve seen so much already this afternoon, all these weird characters and places – AND I’d flown through the air holding a Tiger-person’s hand. I could make a picture of my day.
I take another long look at the blank wall, thinking I’ll never fill all that up, but at least I should make a start. Never had a chance like this before, probably won’t get one again; no one at home would ever let me do a wall like this.
I’m kinda worried and my hands are shakin’ so the first few lines are a bit wobbly, but I soon get the hang of it. I get quite excited as I draw some big ‘Manga’ eyes which grow to become this, dead-good figure surrounded by an army of one-eyed, many coloured foot soldiers. A flying Tiger wearing a flaming cloak leading them all across a huge purple moonscape, awesome.
Before I know it, I fill the whole space and a rattle of applause makes me turn. All the goggle-eyed characters are clapping and smiling and jumpin’ up and down excitedly.
‘Wicked,’ says One-Eye ‘knew we weren’t wrong – just shows you don’t it ?’
I tell you, I stand back and look at what I’d done. It’s rockin’. Who’d a thought I could do a piece like that? What a day.
‘That’s utterly ultimate,’ says I, ‘Maybe I really can do stuff after all, way chill.’
‘You can spray that again,’ says One-Eye and we all groan and laugh.
- * ‘Everything you can imagine is real’ Pablo Picasso