Thursday 25th August 2011
WORD games keep me awake at night. They’re a much more exciting way of not being able to get to sleep than worrying about next month’s bills, global warming, or what I should have said to the gorgeous woman on the 855 bus instead of that crass remark about hay rolls reminding me of Shredded Wheat.
Here’s one I misslept recently: Superb breakfast tomorrow with honey, yoghurt, toast, tea and doughnuts; superb.
It’s a loop, a string, each word starting with the last letter of the previous word. There was a fine example at the weekend, when a young writer came up with one about a tramp beset by hooligans: Bench, homeless, sad… sob, bench. Fill in the gaps yourself.
Andy (Stanton, author of the Mr Gum books) delivers the tale with apt gestures and telling faces – a few quieter moments during an hour of linguistic tomfoolery and busy pencils. My granddaughters collect audience jottings; sound engineer Reg has a go at the N-to-N stuff; newly appointed Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, enthusiastically accepts the Telephone Lines challenge.
Huge fun, which continues into Andy’s book signing:
“How old are you, James? Nine, eh! So, what do you do for a living?”
We unwind over a cuppa in the back-stage garden. Julia and her husband are preparing for an event with a BSL interpreter. While Andy’s publicist and my daughter chat about their toddlers, he talks to the girls about art and poetry. I could stay here all day, but mustn’t miss the train.
“Great gig,” Andy concludes. “I want to do it again. Right now.”
I’d be up for that. And twice again on each and every tomorrow. Kids love word games. If only those who write literacy policies understood that straightforward truth. Julia, Andy and I could improve reading and writing skills across the land, given half a chance.
Edinburgh is festooned in the gaiety of an earlier age. I head for the station, trundling my suitcase, filling it with things beginning with H: hat, halibut, heather, hiccups, honey, Hartlepool, hay rolls…