I have always wanted to be an author. I can remember being at first school at around age 7 and having a set of books that had been written and illustrated by children. I have no idea what they were called but I still have a very vivid picture of one of the characters. It was a pink monster that looked similar to a fox. I loved the books and, in particular, the fact that everbody could see that they were created by children. So I used to tell my classmates that I had written them. Drawn them too. I am sure that they would have pointed out that my name was not on the cover but I would like to think that I had a suitable excuse such as a pen name. I can still conjure that feeling of pride pretending that the book in my hand was created by me.
4 years later at age 11 I was handed an opportunity to write. My school was taking part in a media week which saw us commentate on football matches amongst other things but the stand out for me was being given the task of writing a book for a younger audience. One of our teachers was a published author and sent some of our books away to her publisher. I once again drifted into fantasy land telling my classmates that I was going to go and see the books being printed etc but, alas, the publisher declined.
However, the letter itself gave me enough of a spark that it has always been in the back of mind for the past 24 years. As you will see, the publisher names my book in person. That to me was, and is, a glimmer of hope. It is something that, although tiny, has kept me going over the years that one day I will make it.
Here’s the book, including the publisher’s letter.
Thomas & the Glasses – Kevin Payne(pdf)
If you haven’t read this story, Mr. Gove has ‘attacked’ a teacher for producing a lesson plan based on the Mr. Men books. I’m not going to pass judgement on the story itself other than to say how delighted I was to read it as it gave me the inspiration to write my own Mr. Men story featuring Mr. Gove.
I wish I could sound a bit more like Arthur Lowe but I hope you enjoy it!
Download the mp3:
This is the story of Mr. Gove. Mr. Gove lived in a little blue house on the edge of a little blue wood where everything was nice and quiet and blue. Now Mr. Gove was not a very happy fellow on the whole but there was one thing that made him very happy. That ‘thing’ was going to school.
Mr. Gove knew everything there was to know about schools. That is because he had once been to school himself. He knew exactly what the children needed to know and how they would learn it. He knew all about teachers and how they should teach and he knew that if everybody worked harder, then everybody would enjoy school just as much as he did when he once went there. One day Mr. Gove wrote a long list of all the things that the children should learn and he put it in his pocket before he went out the door.
This particular day when Mr. Gove got to school he saw things that made him very unhappy.
So when nobody was looking Mr. Gove came up with a quite brilliant plan. First, he changed the clocks in all the classrooms so that none of the teachers or children would realise that their days had gotten longer. Next, he changed all the textbooks in the classrooms so that the children knew all the facts that he knew they needed to know and in what order. Finally, Mr. Gove hid the books and games he didn’t like and swapped them for tests about sentences.
When he had finished, Mr. Gove felt very happy. The children would spend less time thinking of silly ideas when they should be learning facts and the teachers wouldn’t waste time teaching things that weren’t on his list. He knew that if everybody followed his plans then everybody would be very clever indeed. So the next time that you are planning on going to school, why not say a big thank you to Mr. Gove for making it a better place to be?
We have been playing a game between the two of us called ‘Not my Nappy’. Although neither of us have actually mentioned the game by name or acknowledged its existence, the instructions are fairly simple and consistent all over the world.
Two players are in a room when a sound or smell signals the start of the game. The two players then spend the opening few seconds pretending that nothing has happened until one player makes a move and nominates the other to acknowledge the situation and do something about it. This leads to stage 2 of the game – negotiations. Here the two players bid and counter bid as to why they should not have to deal with the problem before them. Suggestions and pleas of tiredness, cleanliness and turn-taking are all permitted.It is here that female players of the game may wish to use their trump card – the birth. If this is played, there is only ever one outcome. However, once used, the card cannot be used again for a further 24 hours.
Once negotiations are complete stage 3 can begin. Here the nominated player must decide how to approach the sticky (or runny) situation. The nominator can now relax in comfort to become observer and coach, offering advice as to how they would approach it and how they think it should be done. The active player can either choose to follow or ignore this advice for later in the game.
The game now slips into a timed challenge. Once the first button is undone on the baby’s sleepsuit, the clock starts. A steady hand is needed here. Think Buckaroo and Operation. The active player must remove the dirty nappy, clean the area and replace the clothing before anything else occurs. If successful, the nominated player will lift the baby like a trophy to celebrate and refer back to the ignoring of the other player’s advice as being a major factor in their achievement. Play then passes to the other player even if the game starts again just 2 or 3 seconds later.
Yet even the most experienced players can find difficulties in concluding this part of the game. Insufficient materials (missing or wrong sized nappies / lack of wipes etc) heighten the tension of the player and the excitement of the observer and clumsy or nervous moves may lead to the incorrect matching of buttons to their holes. However, should the baby begin to urinate at any point during the changing then there is no way back. Such instances require not only a full clothing change of the baby but, inevitably, the help of the other player. At this point, even if the end result is a clean and changed baby, the nominated player must accept defeat and be prepared for a thorough investigation into what went wrong and a second helping of the original advice.
For extra fun, try playing the game late at night in a dimly-lit room.
Although 2 and a half years have passed since our first son was born I have been transported back in time this week through the familar scent of our newborn’s full nappies. I have heard somewhere before that certain smells can trigger memories in people’s minds and that odour has certainly stirred images of sleepness nights, fumbling with buttons of sleepsuits in the dark and conversations with my wife about a) how could something so small produce so much waste and b) if he’s only been drinking milk then where has this revolting mess come from?
Having lived in Devon on and off for the last 16 years, until yesterday I had never visited Crealy Adventure Park. I’d been missing out. It was so enjoyable that we went again today and will probably be going again before the week is out.
There once was a teacher from Devon
Who wrote poems since he was just 3
They oft’ didn’t rhyme
But that didn’t matter
Because he knew all of the dates that Mr. Gove wanted him to and didn’t ask any questions
I’ve often wondered how people get started with blogging. What was the thing that first inspired them or drove them to blog and then keep on going? I guess I’m about to find out.
I have blogged before but this feels different. I think this time I might just stick around.