Monday, 26 January 2009

Simon Puttock: I BLAME THE KIDS

The author of the 2008 Royal Mail Award nominated Goat and Donkey in Strawberry Sunglasses tells it like it is:

On Thursday, as I went about my usual writerly business of talking to children about… well, stuff, I was faced not with just the usual one or two classes, but an ENTIRE school - P1s to P7s, the whole caboodle. The gamut. The lot. All 25 of them (24 actually, 4 percent were/was absent.) Even I, who prefers the unexpected and likes to wing it, was thinking this could prove to be too much of a good thing.

So there I was: serious-faced P1s to the left of me. Boisterous P3s at twelve o’clock. Almost nearly a bit grown-up P7s to the right. And the rest jostling for position in between. Now, just as bicycles need ankles in order to go, when it comes to school visits, I need questions. (Of course I read stories too, but questions are the engine of a session.) And at that moment THE question was, how much questioniness was there in this room? I should know better than to worry about these things…

Because although I am verbose - I ramble - I TALK TOO MUCH - what happened next really wasn’t my fault. One hour (and then some) of talking, falling over (only once), drawing the world’s worst cactus/duck/person, and general literary analysis and I was NOT responsible. I was still answering questions as I pulled on my coat and started to dash for my taxi but again, don’t look at me. It was those pesky children and their excellent QUESTIONS, making me THINK, forcing me to SAY STUFF. It’s happened before. There is probably nothing I can do to stop it happening again. Because when it comes to a good school visit, like I say, I BLAME THE KIDS.


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