The Story Of A Teenage Entrepreneur (FAILED)

The Story Of A Teenage Entrepreneur (FAILED)

Status: Finished

Genre: Memoir



Status: Finished

Genre: Memoir


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Chapter1 (v.1) - Enter Destiny

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 19, 2017

Reads: 23

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 19, 2017



Well hello there, thanks for dropping by. Come and sit down with me for a while, let's chat. I would like to tell you about a story I want to write, a story with a bit of a difference. As well as trying to entertain you, my reader, I want you to take hold of something else.  I'll explain that at the end of this introductory chapter. Trust me it will be important, far more important than my own story for which I had better shut up and start writing.

I do not believe in god but I have a very strong suspicion there is an all-controlling force in this universe which we too easily dismiss as Destiny. In many of my fictional stories Destiny features and guides the characters. I am about to tell you part of my own life story, not fiction - a true story, where Destiny took hold of me, turned me round and pushed me in an entirely unexpected direction. Indeed Destiny is responsible for my writing this story in the first place.

Gosh !  I have so many things whizzing round in my head that I need to sort into an order to start this autobiography and to tell you of two years in my teenage life. I need to decide what goes where before I can actually start to tell you of the time I spent working in a large Birmingham city centre department store.

OK, let's try. Be patient with me won't you ?  PLEASE.

In June 1966, when I was fifteen years old, The Beatles released a single Paperback Writer. I knew then that was what I wanted to be, a writer. I was at school at the time, taking my GCE O'Levels and having in my mind a very clear career path which did not actually include being a paperback writer, that would have to be something which I would do in my spare time. When I then became a millionaire best selling writer I may consider a change of direction.

Yes, I am a published author but my paperbacks have long been out of print, you will be lucky to even find one on e-bay these days !  But I have always loved writing, it has always been a hobby. When I taught creative writing I would tell my students the important thing was actually to create the story, to put the words in an order where the story could be told and the characters developed, it did not matter at all if anyone read it or not. The excitement for the writer came from writing, not from having anyone read what they had written - just from writing. If anyone then went on to read what had been written, if they enjoyed the story that was a bonus.

Enter Destiny.

I was having an extension built at my home, providing some extra rooms and a downstairs bathroom which my wife insisted we would need in our old age, old age which is just round the corner.  A diver turned up to collect a skip of builder rubbish from my drive. I did not recognise him but he recognised me, he was one of my former students. I resist saying old students, it is I who is old and not he !  It was great to see him, he was still in contact with many of the students who had been in the year group which had myself as its Head of Year. There would have been nearly three hundred in my charge and it was so lovely to hear from this man happy, successful stories. I decided I would, one day - ONE DAY, sit down and write my memories of life as a teacher.  I would call it Carry On Teacher. I actually wrote the introduction, the story of how I engineered a particularly naughty boy to be thrown into the school swimming pool !  Yes, that did happen. The story of my time as Head of Year in a large comprehensive school has not happened.

One of the books I would read with my younger students at school was Boy by Roald Dhal. Have you read it ?  I don't particularly like it myself, too much emphasis on beatings and not enough on the day to day activities of the young Roald. I decided before I could tell my story as a teacher I needed first to write my own schoolboy autobiography.  This I did and published Things Were Different I My Day. When I say published, I do not mean you can pop along to W H Smith or your local library and pick up a copy, it is available as an e-book on Amazon. 

A problem with Amazon, from the writer's point of view, is the fact that the stats page lists only the number of readers an author has had, his sales and his royalty commission. I have, therefore, no idea how many, if any, have read my own schoolboy autobiography. But that does not matter does it ?  Have I not said the important thing for a writer is to tell the story, it does not matter if anyone reads it or not.

Between the end of my schoolboy autobiography and Destiny grabbing hold of me then saying You are going to have a career in education there were two years where I worked in a city centre department store, two years which need to be recorded and told. No, I wasn't going to write that. Who would be in the slightest bit interested ?Hang on, what have I just said ? Hadn't I better take my own advice.  Nah !  I would not be writing about those two years.

Destiny had a different plan. Destiny is very cunning you know. Cunning and oh so devious.

My brother sent me an e-mail to which he attached a picture of Lewis's department store, that was, in Birmingham.


Here's the picture. It's an old image taken well before the two years I worked there. I e-mailed my brother back, thanked him and shared a few simple memories of my two years.

He then told me that there were lots more pictures on FACEBOOK. FACEBOOK !  No thank you !  I am not of the right generation for social media. Sorry but I have to digress and share an anecdote with you.

The Open University held a one day seminar to which different people working within our local community were invited to attend.  As Head of Year Eleven at Leon School, I received one of those invitations.

The professor delivering the opening lecture began by saying: "You may have head of something new called The Internet, today I want to explain how you can use this to send electronic mail."

It was good to be away from school, the classroom and the office but what a waste of time the day turned out to be. We sat at chunky old computer terminals and tried to send electronic mail messages to one another. I was seated next to a friend who was the local police's school liaison officer, try as we both did we could not make it work.

If you read my schoolboy autobiography you will quickly learn what an arrogant teenager I was. Arrogance has never left me and was on top form that day. "This will never catch on," I announced to the professor and the rest of the group. "Why would it when we have telephones ?"

"Ah," the professor replied, "but with e-mail you can attach documents."

"Have you never heard of fax machines ?"  Yes, I did say that and the rest of the group members who could not make this new fangled e-mail work agreed with me. Do you remember fax machines ? You'll find them today at the Science Museum in Kensington, London.

Back to the story, sorry I was rambling there. OK Destiny, give me a moment !  I'll tell the tale, just be patient.

I am from the wrong generation for all this modern technology stuff. When I start to tell you the story of my two years working at Lewis's I will talk about the telex office we had where it was possible to send instant messages to anyone in the world who had a giant, cumbersome and slow telex machine at their end. All you need today is a smart phone. Yes, I have one - somewhere. I do not have a clue where in the house it is. My seven year old grandson gave up trying to teach me how to use it.

Social Media ?  Social Networking ? You have got to be kidding !

I can write a website mind you, oh yes I can. I am one hundred percent self-taught in web development, what I know I know well but what I do not know is a mystery that belongs on the dark side of the moon. I write web pages using Microsoft Frontpage which dates from 2003, was updated until 2010 then set aside as antique. The only subject I failed at school was Art so my web pages are functional though not well designed and far from appealing to the eye. Tough !

I set up a website to publish my stories and I set up a second website to write a diary, that's blog in cyber-speak.  My name is David but I write my stories using the pen-name Max Robinson and my diary under the pseudonym of The Patriotic Pensioner. Confused ? My idea was for the diary to send readers to the story library then if a reader liked what they read they may want to click through to Amazon and be very kind to me by spending out ninety-nine pence for the Kindle e-book version. That was and, I guess, still is my theory.  There is such a thing as Kindel Unlimited where even if someone does read my work I earn sod all. More of that in a moment.

Oh hang on Destiny, shut up, put a sock in it  and show a bit of patience !  I am getting to your role in this story. Give me a bit longer please.

The title of this autobiography is The Story Of A Teenage Entrepreneur. I have then added the word in brackets - FAILED.  I never was a businessman and now approaching my sixty-seventh birthday I am just starting to realise that.

The marketing formula to sell anything on-line involves numbers, big numbers. One person in one hundred will buy and usually on their fifth visit to the web page. Therefore, one in five hundred.


  • I need five hundred visits to my stories on Amazon to sell one download.

  • From my story website I need five hundred multiplied by five hundred to send people to Amazon and make a sale. 500 x 500 = 250,000. Are you following me ?

  • To get that quarter of a million people hitting my story library and then Amazon my diary needs two hundred and fifty thousand times five hundred. 250,000 x 500 = 125,000,000.

AH ! Good job I so firmly believe the joy for an author is in the writing, not having lots of readers.  However, every author has an ego and I am no exception. Mine is pretty big actually - comes with my arrogance. When I crawl out of bed each morning I rub my eyes then open my laptop. I check all of my page hits and reader stats.

Destiny, for goodness sake will you PLEASE BE PATIENT ! Shut up and let me explain.

If I see that I have sold a download on Amazon I get excited and that ensures I have a super day. I will never get rich selling Amazon e-books, the majority of my readers belong to this thing Kindel Unlimited so get to read my tales within their subscription from which I earn zilch - nothing - zero - sod all ! But hey, who cares the boost to the ego is sufficient for me.

I think I have the Maths right, for my American readers the word is MATHS with an S on the end not MATH without ! Anyway, one hundred and twenty-five million to achieve one download purchasing reader. I must have the decimal point way, way too far to the right or else the marketing formula is right up the creek. Never mind.  When I set up my websites I knew I had an uphill struggle to find the people I was looking for. The only way I stood any chance was by that dreaded thing called social media !

I know that Twitter works. Please do not ask me why it works or even attempt to explain it to me, but work it does. I used to refer to Twitter as The Infernal Avian and, like the name suggests, is open for use by Twits, Twits the world over. As I was planning my website launch a certain Donald Trump aka The King of Twitter found himself elected to become President of The United States of America. This man has twenty-six million, eight hundred thousand followers. If he could achieve that and if Twitter worked for him then why not for me ?  After all he is only an American and I am a Brit ! Are you reading the arrogance here ?  Is it coming through ?  That is going to be important when I start telling you the meaty bits of my story. Let that arrogance continue as I now record that I have quickly built up a Twitter following of more than seventeen thousand. The number, to use Twitter notation, fluctuates but is never lower than 17.k and has yet to top 17.5k. Let me stop writing and take a quick look at the current figure. 17.3k - there you go.

So with Twitter conquered I signed up to some social networking sites: LinkedIn, Blogger, TrustPilot - the numbers began to flow. I joined Booksie and set Google Analytics to track numbers across all of my web pages. Hey, I quickly found readers in twelve different countries of the world. My ego was having a party. FACEBOOK, however, was a failure !  I set up a profile using my pen-name of Max Robinson. FACEBOOK then asked me to provide proof of ID. I could not do that for Max Robinson, he does not exist and is not a real person. Try to contact FACEBOOK and explain, that's a joke. Stop wasting time, give up and look for a better option.

On my diary I have what I call my "doings list". To this I added: see if FACEBOOK is worth a second try. There it sat, a few words on an ever growing list of jobs. I did nothing for a while. My brother's e-mail and my former student collecting that builder's skip made me think I should perhaps give FACEBOOK another try. Perhaps.

See Destiny, I told you if you were patient I would get there. Didn't I say that ?

Never mind driving people from FACEBOOK (I hate spelling FACEBOOK with a small f and not FACEBOOK as it should in English Grammar be. I will not indulge the geek Mark Zuckerberg by using the small f !) to my stories, I liked the idea of getting to know again some of my former students and I was very interested in the idea of the Lewis's group on the network. So my new profile was set up and the Lewis's group accepted me as a member. THANKS. I posted a few teenage memories of my time at Lewis's on the group profile and was inundated with responses. As I type this introduction to my autobiography there are twenty messages waiting for me on FACEBOOK. Wow !

OK Destiny, time now for you to have your say. Are you happy ?

I am writing this chapter on Tuesday 21st March 2017. I am scribbling away into my notebook, my usual way of writing (Obviously I am now typing up those notes.). I will later type up the notes as an introduction to my new story: The Story Of A Teenage Entrepreneur (FAILED). Right now I am sitting in a hospital waiting room having been asked to take my daughter  in for some tests.

That is not how I planned my day but Destiny this is exactly how you planned it and have been planning it for a while.

I am currently working on two different stories. Fireball XL5 is something I am writing for my grandson, Adam. Actually it would be better if I said I was writing it with Adam and not just for Adam. This is going well. Adam gives me the ideas, I write them up and then he illustrates the text. Together we will probably finish the story some time in the summer.

Here's Adam working on the story.

When I worked at Lewis's I had a good friend who was a member of the Occasional Furniture Department, David. He worked on the fourth floor of the store while I was based on the third. He was a great fan of books by Dennis Wheatley and introduced me to his writing. I soon got hooked and read The Devil Rides Out, To The Devil A Daughter, Gateway to Hell and The Haunting Of Toby Jug. Hang on to that for a moment will you while I bring something else into the picture.

During the time when I was a teacher I wrote stories to read to my students. I was very comfortable writing teenage fiction. The first book I ever had published was Peter's Magic Fountain Pen which I wrote for my oldest son's twelfth birthday. That was donkey's ages ago, he is thirty-six years old now with children of his own. Adam is not the son of Peter but of my second son Matthew. Adam asked me if he could have a copy of the book to read.  I climbed up into my loft and found one for him.  Other than writing Fireball XL5 with Adam I am not writing children or teenage fiction any longer, my mind is not moving that way.

Crime fiction is the most widely read genre but something I had never tried. Peter's Magic Fountain Pen is a time travel story, I have always been fascinated by the thought that travel through time is possible and have used this in several of my adult stories. I am comfortable taking my reader through time and space but telling a crime story, no that was not my really style. Or is it ?

Wanting to give crime fiction a go, I came up with the character of David McDermott. He starts off as an Acting Detective Sergeant and becomes a Detective Inspector. I had so much fun with him writing the three stories which make up the trilogy The Case Files of Dave McDermott that I am sure there will be more in the future but before then I wanted to try out another new writing style.

The problem is that my idea to do that was not what Destiny had planned. Destiny wanted me to write this autobiography even though the idea had simply never entered my mind.

Now back to my friend David from Lewis's Occasional Furniture Department on the fourth floor and his introducing me to Dennis Wheatley. I thought I would have a go at writing a Satanic Black Magic story, The Fires of Hell.

I started writing with great enthusiasm and full of ideas but right now the story is not going well, not going well at all.  The words are juddering from my pen and I am far from happy with what I have written. It's even bigger rubbish that that I usually write.

My plan for today, remember I scribbled these notes on Tuesday 21st March 2017, was to get in the car then drive to the location in which I have set the introduction to my story. There I would soak up the atmosphere and use this to completely rewrite the introductory chapter. It sounded a good plan which I had well mapped out. I was then going to drive into some of the areas where I had set my crime trilogy, take some photographs and even a bit of video which I could then use to promote the story.  The weather forecast was good and indeed today has been a cold but lovely sunny day.

Destiny, however, you had a different plan didn't you ? A phone call and my plan was ripped up. My notepad and pen never leave me so Destiny I did what you told me to do, I started writing this story: The Story Of A Teenage Entrepreneur (FAILED).

 Once upon a time I was so determined to follow the career path of a retail manager. I will brainstorm memories of those two years at Lewis's and put everything into some form of order. Finally I will end my autobiography returning back to you Destiny. I will let you tell anyone reading these words why you put your hands firmly on my shoulders and turned me to face in an entirely different direction, a direction and a career which were the very last I had anticipated I would give my life to.

I hope I have made it clear, I have laboured the point hard enough, that a writer writes for himself and for his own enjoyment. Readers are a bonus. As you have read this long and somewhat rambling introduction you will have realised that William Shakespeare I am not. I am not Dennis Wheatley nor do I dare to dream of the wealth achieved by J K Rowling and Jeffrey Archer.

I like to think of myself as the Thinking Man's Enid Blyton. Did you read her books as a kid ? Noddy in Toyland, The Famous Five, Secret Seven and so on ? Simple stories, easy to read. There is something Enid Blyton achieved every day of her life, something many authors neither consider nor understand and seldom ever achieve. I am not a great author and never will be, I am just an aging adolescent who loves to tell a story.

Within my ancestry I do have a famous author. This lady, Daisy Ashford, born in 1881 was particularly famous in her day.  Her most celebrated work was The Young Visiters. (Yes that is spelt correctly.) It is the story of a slightly bumbling aspirant to high society in late Victorian England.

Fast forward for say, twenty or twenty-five years from now and I would not mind betting Adam Ashford will be a name to rival if not William Shakespeare then certainly the likes of Roald Dhal and J K Rowling.

I believe any and every writer has an important duty to their readers. That is to inspire them to write their own stories. Enid Blyton did that more than any other writer did before her or since.

When my first book, Peter's Magic Fountain Pen, was published it took blood, sweat, tears and endless letters of rejection to make it happen. Today anyone can tell their story, true or fictional, pop it on Amazon and immediately become an internationally published writer. As we have chatted informally in this introduction I hope you have thought perhaps you have a story to tell. Please, please give it a go. If you would like me to help or to encourage you then do ask me. I mean that. Please.  I am writing this story for myself, for my own enjoyment, but I want it to push anyone who reads it to take their own life and write it into an autobiography. You may or you may not enjoy the tales I tell in the next few thousand or so words, that does not matter. What does matter is if I can make you write yourself.

Of course I will tell my social media followers and friends about this little autobiography, an adventure back to my late teenage years. It would be great if some of those who also worked in Lewis's Department Store in Birmingham  were to say if David Ashford (Max Robinson) can write his story then I can. Even better if they were to say "Hey I can make a better job than he did !"  I have to confess that if any of my former students who are now my FACEBOOK friends read the rest of this tale I will be embarrassed. When they say "Was Sir really like that ?" I will have to blush and reply, "Yes, he was."

Thanks for the chat, it has been great talking with you. Let me now write this autobiography and explain my determination to become a successful retail manager. I need to begin by telling you why I decided that was the career path for me. I will call my next chapter HAILSTONE'S HARDWARE. Then I will tell you of my time at Lewis's. I think I will call that part of the autobiography SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR MONEY REFUNDED. Anyone who worked at Lewis's will be familiar with that phrase. Finally, my concluding chapter will be handed back to Destiny.

Read on Macduff. (Sorry Shakespeare.)

© Copyright 2017 Max Robinson. All rights reserved.


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