Thursday, July 04, 2013

Author visit to Penketh High School, my old stomping ground!

I spent yesterday at Penketh High School, scene of my formative teenage years and many bouts of bad haircuts, bogging acne and body odour. It occurred to me as I pulled up that it was 30 years ago since I'd first attended the school. More shocking was the fact that a handful of teachers who had taught me were still there (I'm mentioning no names to protect the innocent). I was speaking with Years 7 and 8 in the morning, 11-13 year olds, while after lunch I got to talk to the Year 6 pupils from Penketh's numerous feeder schools who were there for the day.

As school visits go, this was a bit of a treat for me. If I'd had an author or artist visit me when I was there back in the day, it would've had a profound effect upon my fragile little mind. It would've shown me that one CAN make a living in creative industries, that art and media aren't simply bits of extra-curricular fluff. Sadly, I never got any advice as a lad that supported my desire to pursue a living in the arts. To now be back at my old high school and have the opportunity to enthuse about what I do for a living (which, let's face it, certainly beats a 'proper job') was a real honour. If what I had to say struck a chord with just one student who was in the room, then that's a job well done. If at the very least the lads and lasses were entertained by my wobbling gob then that also puts a big Cheshire Cat smile on my fat face.

I also got to meet the rather marvellous Mr Hughes, headmaster of the school. You may better know him from his various appearances on morning television and viral tweets. I actually introduced him to Tony Higginson from Formby Books as 'Gangnam Head'. If you watch the video, all will make sense, I'm sure. Smashing chap.

Massive thankingyous to ALL who were there yesterday, especially Ian Farrar for coordinating the whole enchilada, and Jon Kay for taking care of technical requirements (and providing good gossip) first thing in the morning. Most of all, thanks to all the students from Years 6 through 8 who endured my anecdotes, animations and arty doodles. You were great, every one of you, even the lad at the back who thought that Frostie The Snowman was a fair answer to the question: "Name me an entirely computer generated movie." I know. I don't know what he was thinking either.

"Can I have your name please, sir?" That's what the lady at Starbucks asked yesterday. Naturally, I happily obliged, and this is what came back. That's not even an attempt at a real name. She may as well have just put a random collection of consonants together. I tried to make it easier on an earlier visit to a Starbucks, having had my name repeatedly misspelled by them. When they asked for my name I replied: "Spartacus", garnering a chorus of guffaws from others in the queue. Humourless 'barista' replied: "Can you spell that please?"

Meh. The worst misspelling of my name is unrepeatable on here, and it featured on the front of my 'Frankenstein's Cat' picture book. No. I'm not even going there...

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