I was asked this morning if I’d take over James Mayhew’s spot at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, as he’s got tonsillitis and isn’t really up for it. Having spent a lot of my youth and grown up years with frequent bouts of tonsillitis, I feel for him and hope he gets better.
For those of you looking forward to meeting James on Wednesday, I hope I’ll do him proud. It is to be a illustration based talk, so I’m looking out all sorts of things to bring along and show you. See you on Wednesday morning.
My wife and I went to the festival yesterday, on the way home from my brother’s birthday party in Oxford. We went to see the film star, Michael Caine, talk about his new book – not many people know that, (well, they do now I’ve written about it on the internet!)
One of the joys of my visit to Guernsey was to spend some time with Simon James, the picture book author and illustrator. I so rarely get to see what other authors do in the school sessions, so it was a treat to watch him in action at the Grammar School on Wednesday evening. He entertained us with a reading of his book Baby Brains: The Smartest Baby in the Whole World. He used a slide projector to blow up the pictures and performed the story, waving his arms around as a cue for his young, volunteer projectionist, Samantha. I envy Simon’s quieter style. I tend to go in both guns blazing – but at the end of the week, I think Simon was more tired than I was. Maybe I’ve built up a bit of stamina over the years. I met Simon in passing, a long time ago. I hope we meet up again at a festival or somewhere soon.
Read His books. They are very funny and very good.
Today was my last and busiest day on Guernsey. We started late at StMary and St Michael because they decided to close off half the roads at 8:30.
At La Mare de Carteret Primary School, all the children had made hats for book week dressing up day. Many had characters and drawings gleaned from my drawing videos. See the photo.
At lunchtime Paul Dowswell, Simon James and I rushed to BBC Guernsey for an interview and then off to my last session at Notre Dame Primary School and thence to the airport where I’m typing this ready to hop over to Jersey on my way back to Birmingham.
It’s been a fab but very tiring week. Thanks to everyone involved in bringing us over, Ardel and the Schools’ Library Service, and making it such a smoothly run operation all week.
I had a great day today visiting Melrose, the junior department of Ladies’ College, Amherst Primary Schools and Le Murier Secondary School in the afternoon.
The astonishingly talented Grace played me some piano at Melrose. She is obviously going to go far – a very talented multi-instrumentalist.
Lucy, from the School’s Library Service, took me to see the Little Chapel which is covered in shells and mosaics of broken china. It’s the most wonderfully quaint and inspiring place. It’s in a very peaceful situation overlooking a field in which a few Guernsey cows chomp nonchalantly at the lush, green grass.
I had a great flight to Guernsey today, which was marred by the enormous queue at the airport because they only had one X-ray machine open. It was supposed to rain, but it was lovely and sunny when I landed with Paul Dowswell, who is also appearing in secondary schools here this week. It was great to see Simon James later on. He is seeing the KS1 children and I’m seeing all KS2. Off early in the morning to start a packed week. Here is a little bit of video I took on a walk to the harbour, this afternoon.
Okay, I admit it – I’m riveted by Chantelle and Preston’s relationship on Big Brother. The pair met on Celebrity Big Brother, some four years ago. He was Prince Charming and she was Cinderella – a girl from nowhere, who got to go to the Royal Ball. Yes, they fell in love and got married and lived happily ever af…
Oh no! It all went wrong after a year and they got divorced. They are now backtogether, in the Big Brother house, and it’s plain to see, they are both hurting and still very much in love. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
As a family, we stand around and watch the kitchen TV, when the stardom-crossed lovers have their moments. We become silent and transfixed, as this ancient fairy tale works itself out in front of our eyes. We don’t know them personally, but in some ways we know them very well, for we all are, or have been, Chantelles and Prestons.
Fairy tales survive the test of time because they are truly great stories that everyone can understand and empathise with. I’m sure that most of the Big Brother audience, are willing them on, hoping they will get back together, pick up their lives and move on – to live happily ever after.
We went to the Forest Bookshop tonight for the launch of The Anatomy of Ghosts, the latest book from my friend, the crime fiction writer, Andrew Taylor.
It’s been released two weeks early for us as a postscript to the Forest Words Festival that finished at the weekend.
The picture is of Andrew channeling spectral sunflowers from the artist, Van Gogh.
I’ve got my copy and will snuggle up with it in bed tonight.
The Coleford Festival of Words is in full swing. Last night we saw Chris Amery perform a dramatic presentation of Homer’s Illiad, which gave me much food for thought, as my next big project is set in Ancient Greece.
Later we were entertained by Jonny Fluffypunk, who performs funny poetry that rails against capitalism and tofu at the same time. Great fun! He was supported by my friend (the crime fiction writer) Andrew Taylor (In the captain’s hat, above) and his band The Pukes, who are… interesting!
Tomorrow, Wednesday 12th August, I’m joining the panel for a debate on the future of the book called “Is The Book Dead?” at 6.30 at the Baptist Church in Coleford – come along!
On Saturday I will be doing a Monster Boy session, at the bookshop at 11am, with stories and drawing – come along for that too!
On Wednesday I visited playshcemes in Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan and Abergele Library in the afternoon. On Thursday I visited Colwyn Heights playscheme, Colwyn Bay Library and Rhos on Sea Playsheme too, reading stories and and showing the children (and adults!) how to draw the characters. In Penmaenmawr i took some video to show all the different and wonderful versions of Viking Vik that they drew, but I’m still getting to grips with my new iPhone, so I filmed it all sideways by mistake!
I’ve stayed in Llandudno a few times, but this time I was a little East in Rhos on Sea, which seemed quiet for the height of the staycation season. I doesn’t have a sandy beach, which I suppose is what draws the crowds. I had a lovely time rootling around the rocky shoreline of the little harbour, where I found all sorts of interesting stones to bring back and add t my seaside collection. Perhaps I should a feature on it one day?
Many thanks to Margaret and Kathryn, who looked after me and organised everything to go so smoothly.
I was asked to draw this by a YouTube friend in Croatia! I’ve always loved Japanese things so this is the result. She doesn’t look very Japanese. Everytime I tried to make her look Japanese she was either too much a weternised stereotype or it looked like an 18th century print. Have a go anyway.
If you can’t see this at school or in a library because Youtube is blocked, then go to my own site www.shoo-tube.com which is allowed through most content filters in schools.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsYtfljAYLM &w=510 &h=413]