Monday, March 23, 2015

World Book Day Week - if you see what I mean - day 5, Friday 6th March: Rickmansworth 

I've been hopeful about this one. The deputy head, who's been my contact while organising the visit, has been consistently on the ball: answering emails promptly, providing a timetable for the day, but also sending me email enquiries of her own checking what I need, including me in a school-wide survey of people's favourite books, and generally being engaged and aware. She has also taken firm orders (in substantial numbers) for copies of my books well in advance so that I've been able to order them in to be delivered direct from the warehouse to the school. So plenty of sales and no lugging a heavy suitcase on a succession of trains. This is very good.

My train journey is trouble free and I arrive in good time. It's a C of E school: there's a certain amount of god-related stuff knocking about in the reception area to tip off my finely honed detective skills, though arguably the 'St' at the start of the name might perhaps have given an inkling too. I give a 45 minute talk/assembly to pretty much the entire school. I think it's gone well. In the Q & A section the first boy I point to is in Year 1 and it turns out he doesn't have a question at all he just wants to say 'I really like your book'. Which is lovely. A little later I get my second favourite question I've ever been asked: 'How do you like being partially famous?' (I figure much later that my response should have been 'it's partially good').

Shortly after I run a (rather hurried) ghost story writing workshop. I'm relatively new to doing these but I've learned that the best approach seems to be talk very little, get the kids writing early on, don't interrupt them too much except to tell them how brilliant they are. The deputy head, another teacher (Miss E) and I roam from table to table offering encouragement then the resulting stories are read out at the end. The religious values of the school apparently have not curbed the pupils' enthusiasm for violence: there are a number of grisly deaths and one group has killed off Miss E to be the ghost in their story. But it all passes off well enough.

Before the children are dismissed to go to dinner they have to say their pre-dinner prayer. When I have one of the school dinners myself I realise this is merely a sensible precaution rather than any form of thanksgiving.

In the staff room later I overhear this exchange:

Male Colleague: So I hear some of your pupils killed you then, Miss E?
Miss E: Yes.
MC: Was that the group with [pupil's name] in?
Miss E: Yes.
MC: He really doesn't like you, does he?

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