Monthly Archives: February 2013

What happens next?

Yesterday – we asked the Story Adventurers “What happens next?”

The three main characters had broken through into the interior of a giant magical meteorite and were poised to go down a dark glittering tunnel.   The following comments are only a tiny sample of the answers they gave:

“Half way thought he tunnel they come to a huge wall. Tom tries to shrink it but his powers don’t work and the wall ends up growing and the sides of the tunnel crumble and they are trapped. Suddenly the meteorite beneath them blows up and they manage to escape from the remaining ruins of the tunnel. Unfortunately they have no idea where they are…they are lost.”

* A little trap door leading to a little cellar filled with meteorites to do with the elements – Earth, Fire, Wind and Water meteorites. This is why Jacob and Eric have been gifted with fire and water powers. Lilly, the mysterious girl might have a wind or earth power. The wind power would allow her to create a little whirlwind that shoots from her finger. The Earth power could allow people to make the ground shake or even force the plates under the ground to rise – a bit like an earthquake.

“There is a pile of rocks, orange ones for fire power, blue ones for water power, grey ones for shrinking power and a new undiscovered green one for the unknown power of plants were you are plants friends,you can make the plants do whatever you want and you can make them(the plants) grow as fast as you want.”

“They could also find an alien world”.

“Or a leprechaun that demands them to pass over their powers to him otherwise he won’t let them pass and if they give the powers he’ll use them to rule the world and make everybody his slave.”

“A big door leading to an alien spaceship with aliens inside with 7 and a half fingers on each side. To get into the spaceship you must put 7 and a half fingers with the correct fingerprint otherwise it won’t open. The aliens have one foot, with one big toe, they’re really fat and their stomach is their eyeball. The head is a square with triangle eyes that stick out and have legs that stretch. HIDEOUS!!!”

Comments close tomorrow morning – I anticipate an explosive, action packed, possibly gruesome episode of the Story Adventure next week.


Story Adventure day – Chapter 6

It’s Thursday morning – Story Adventure morning.  In an hour or so, Chapter 6 should have left my computer….


Here’s my already empty, second cup of coffee


Here are my pyjama legs ready for writing.


This is my screen, clicking over with even more suggestions from the story adventurers


And these are the printed off suggestions so far this week – suggestions about how to get into a castle (camouflage, ghosts, setting fire to the guards, dressing up as pensioners, shrinking each other), what Grandma might cook for dinner (cockroaches, fish flotation bladders, snot sprinkled coconut sundae) plus several play scripts – and then there are the other 74 pages of print outs and the spread sheet that so enormous, you’d need a football pitch to look at it properly.


And here was my idea of what might happen this week – no surprise – I haven’t actually looked at it since I started writing the chapter – because it bears no relationship to the suggestions – Ho hum and onwards….

P.E. Teachers – lovely or otherwise?


What did you think of your PE teacher?  Lovely? Encouraging? Fun? Or did he/she come from the generation that missed their vocation as shouting sergeant majors – teetering on the edge of sadism?

I had one of each. At secondary school, we had the lovely Rosie Finn – a delight – who taught us yoga, and laughed when you dropped the ball in netball.  She was in fact a basket of kittens, pretending to be a PE teacher – far too nice, far too lovely.  She would stick her toe in the swimming pool, declare it too cold and bring us all inside for a chat about boys and periods.  She was in fact, a human being.

I appreciated Rosie because before her, at my junior school, were the Misses O.  Twin sisters who ruled by shouting and whistling and barking at us – their whippet thin bodies wrapped in tiny red skirts barely covering old mottled skin.  They carried huge sports bags laden with lacrosse sticks and tennis racquets. They poked us with them instead of using our names, and their tyranny was especially obvious in the gym.

In those days we had to do these things called BAGA awards.  For the first stage you did:

Forward Roll

Backward Roll



Climb a rope.

I couldn’t climb the rope  Never did my feet get above that huge scratchy knot that dangled six inches from the gym floor and without climbing the rope, I wasn’t allowed to go on to the next stage – vaulting the horse.   The misses O never helped.  They just watched. So week after week I ran through the forward roll, backward roll, handstand, headstand thing – and stalled on the rope.

Everyone else – it seemed – could eventually climb the rope.  Every Monday, before lunch, I went through the same humiliating experience – alone at one end of the gym, while everyone else flew over the vaulting horse and swung somersaults on the bars.


Finally, one dismal Monday as I approached the end of what was then called the third form (yr6) Miss O, the nastier, asked me to demonstrate my technique.  Oh how they laughed.  How they scoffed – how they rolled around on the floor watching my embarrassment.

I vowed then, that I would avenge myself.

Sadly my plans to burn down the school were thwarted by living too far away, so it had to wait 40 years until I wrote Dear Scarlett – but I didn’t choose to make Scarlett like me.  Scarlett is physically competent – she can scale gym bars, swing from ropes, vault horses.  Instead I chose to make Mrs Gayton like the Misses O.  Mean, vindictive and humourless.

It’s been a great journey – digging into the painful past and re-examining the horrors of my pre-teenage years, but I have realized that I was not alone – that lots of other people had similar experiences, ones that mean we only have to hold a hockey stick to feel incompetent.

So I’d like the dedicate the character of Mrs Gayton to all those that ever had to suffer out there on the hockey fields in their little shell of fear, berated by a red faced teacher wielding a whistle and a bat, and I’d like to thank all those PE teachers that went the human way.  Like Rosie Finn.  To you, I am eternally grateful.  May you and your kind continue to flourish.