A meeting with Matt
Pam Ingénue talks to Matthew Goodsell for G2
I meet Matthew Goodsell sitting outside a pub in Macclesfield, Cheshire. He is sitting at a table, sat in a large electric wheelchair sucking beer through a straw. It immediately strikes me how odd he looks – arms skewed and neck tense.
Suddenly his eyes dart up. Taking his mouth from the straw he says something I think was “hi.”
“hi.” I say, “I’m Pam.”
Immediately, he unfolds his famous Lightwriter, the device he talks with. “Hi Pam, welcome to Macc.” He types with surprising speed. “thanks.” I reply. I’m not sure whether to speak to the machine or Mr. Goodsell’s face. I go for his face: “shall we begin?” “Fire away.” He types.
“What first inspired you to write?”
“I have always written. My parents got me a BBC computer when I was about four. They would sit me in front of it and I used to write stories just as Mark and Luke [my brothers] used to draw pictures. It was a means of expression.
“I can’t remember not being able to read and write – the letters of the alphabet have always made sense to me, it seems. My parents must have drilled them into me at a young age, for which I’m extremely grateful.”
“To what extent does your disability affect your writing?”
“Well, it has a twofold effect: firstly, I do not type quickly, so it is a long and somewhat arduous task. Secondly, I believe that one of the foremost rules of writing is stick to what you know, and I know about being disabled, so I write about that, with a few exceptions”.
“so a lot of your work is autobiographical?”
“I’d say much of it is semi-autobiographical. There is some fiction in my work of course – my futuristic scenario pieces, for instance – but I like to stick to fact when it comes to issues like disability. I was educated at a special school full of disabled kids. It was a place of great sorrow, but also great joy. While the public may not want to know about such places, I believe they need to know about such places. This is why I like to include my autobiographical passages into my fiction, as a way of teaching people lessons by stealth.”
At this, Mr Goodsell leans forward to take a mouthful of beer. It’s hard to surprises the urge to help him, but he manages. I choose to continue the interview. “why does politics take such a large role in your work?”
He looks quizzically at me. “I thought that would be obvious from my work. I believe, firmly, that leftwing socialist policies are the best way of helping people like me. Rather than doing it through charities, money and resources should be allocated through the government. The government, being democratically elected, would be in the best position to do this fairly.” He chuckles, and I detect a small spasm in his arm. “Of course, I’m not a complete ‘commie’; I believe those who can work should work and get rich if they can, and fair game to them, but I just think its unfair. Nature is unfair, but we should try to right it.” I can see I’ve touched a raw nerve. I change the subject. “So, what are your plans for your next novel?”
“ahh, that would be telling. You’ll have to wait and see.”
At that moment an elderly gentleman appears behind Matthew. “time’s up.” He says. “matt. We better get going. Mum’s finished the shopping.” With a wave of goodbye, and a small “pip” as he turned his chair on, he disappeared towards the town, followed by his father.