• George Mitchell - author
    George Mitchell
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About the Author

Poverty is relative and as western society progresses, the bar is continually raised. Each generation has its own interpretations and the society of my childhood would, today, be considered one of abject poverty. Although, unlike other parts of the world, starvation, the mark of true poverty, was unknown to us because families fed themselves by practising frugality and ingenuity, an art that has been lost.

Levels of happiness do not equate to poverty unless starvation is involved and my recollections of childhood were idyllic. Money wasn't a factor. Recreation was the outdoor world around us, and not just one of a number of options: no TV and computers back then. Indoors was for homework or served as a punishment. So many experiences encountered during such an exciting childhood could spawn many stories and, in secondary school, my adventures worked to my advantage when it came to essay writing. Supernatural stories flowed off my pen so easily, influenced as I was by the stories of other children and my contact with the travelling community of that time. Hardly an academic (as the name of my secondary school, Aberdeen Academy, would suggest) my supernatural essays were read out regularly to the class by teachers who could make them sound exciting. Ten out of ten was the norm, unlike other subjects.
In senior school, the exams were not so easy. You were given a subject to write about and I remember the experience well. The first subject was 'a river'. How lucky was that because my whole childhood revolved around a wonderful river on my doorstep? The pen flowed and the papers were handed in. Results were handed out and my mark was zero out of ten. The reason: plagiarism. The accusation being that it was so well documented that it had to be someone else's words. I, however, knew it definitely wasn't. What would a teenager know about fertile silts was one challenge? Everything, but apparently because it sounded like someone had written that phrase before, one is barred from using it again. But how else could I describe the low lying lands of the floodplain? Every word ever written has been used before I argued, to no avail. Don't put two words together, no matter how descriptive they may be was the message I got. Crushed and defeated it deflated my earlier confidence in writing, so encouraged by previous teachers.
After leaving school life takes over and the eternal race to better one's standard of living takes hold, but that single experience of a bad teacher lasted a very long time. 'Semi' retirement has given me time to reflect and there is a lot to reflect on. Why shouldn’t I try writing again on long winter nights? The first requirement when writing a book is that you have a story to tell and I have plenty of those. The trick is to make the story interesting and big words don't necessarily make a good book. The subject, of course, has to be of interest to the reader, but that is entirely their choice. I still have my first book on the back burner because it needs refining.
My second, though, is just what the title says, 'A Casual Observer's Notes on Nature.' My lifetime’s working experiences started out as an engineer with The Post Office (now BT) and finally ended with thirty years in the horticultural trade. Running a plant nursery growing, literally, hundreds of species and varieties of trees and shrubs found by experience to grow in the North East of Scotland - you can only do this by observation.

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