Thursday, March 19, 2009

Coming up for air

So that's what I've been doing for the last fortnight. Writing, thinking, scoring out and writing again. And doing two heeeuge events with children in Liverpool for World Book Day, one rather quiet event in Glasgow at Aye Write and finally two more events in Craigmillar which is full of good people living difficult lives exacerbated by appalling poverty, below average literacy levels, above average social problems all within some of the crumbling remains of one of Edinburgh's most shameful public housing estates. Needless to say, out of the five events I've taken part in, the two in Craigmillar were easily the best fun, the most rewarding and the ones I will remember for a long time to come.

Although, it has to be said, standing up on stage in Liverpool under hot, bright lights in front of heaving rows of hundreds of children was pretty memorable in terms of Need For Clean Underwear.

I used to think that being a children's writer guaranteed one a life of quiet, contemplative self-reliance. A sort of love affair between a Zen vegetarian and a Beat Poet who moonlighted as a Lollipop lady. These days, it's more like being the product of a one-night-stand between a rock star on the downward career trajectory and a hermit with literacy issues. The job description has changed beyond all recognition. I suspect E. H. Shepard would have been horrified at the prospect of 'drawing' on an interactive whiteboard, even in front of an audience of adoring fans.

Now, before the next tranche of editorial input, I'm having a wardrobe crisis of epic dimensions because next week I'm off to the Book Fair in Bologna, Italy. When you are fortunate enough to spend the majority of your working life tooling back and forth from your garden shed with occasional sorties to the supermarket, you can grow very accustomed to wearing whatever you wore the day before, even if that was what you wore the day before that, and regardless of the fact that it makes you look
a. old
b. fat you really have given up any pretensions to elegance or style
and if you are acknowledging your Inner Harridan

This is all very well until you are ripped untimely from your cosy cocoon of Dressing Down. Dressing from your vast selection of washed-to-death and decidedly greying Couture Noir. A.K.A. Dressing for Expanded Waistlines and Comfortable Comfort Eating. Whatever. Suddenly you have to Dress for Work. This never fails to throw me into a complete state of terror, which will lead to my travelling with a suitcase of ludicrous heaviness and, I can guarantee, will entail a long, dark teatime of the soul in an uncharted pensione during which the complete contents of said heavyweight luggage will be tried on in various combinations with escalating cries of dismay as all are found wanting.

Don't even get me started on what shoes I'm going to take.


Mel said...

I would tend to recommend hewing to the Inner Harridan route, but I can understand how some may be less inclined to respond to that look (more's the pity). Of course, at the moment I'm sitting on a hillside in India wearing a dhoti, semi-fitted t-shirt, flip-flops, and a throw wrapped around my shoulders like a shawl (think Tibetan monk, rather than Unst granny), so make of my fashion advice what you will. At least I'm comfortable, and very glad to see you surfacing.

Alwen said...

Now if you were in the US, you could put on the uniform (jeans and some sort of a shirt) and elicit no comment.

Alison said...

Oh no! world book day passed by our "international school" without even a mention. If I hadn't been going in and complaining rather a lot about other stuff recently I'd be inclined to kick up a stink. must put that in the diary for next year.
Were you at castleview primary? That's the school where I worked for the head teacher.
Love the new blog illustration.