Friday, 4 March 2011

World Book Week: Final Day: Pilgrims' School, Winchester

Into the cloistral charms of Winchester for my final talk at Pilgrims' Winchester, a beautiful school set right near to the Cathedral. One of its halls has an ancient timbered ceiling - you can well believe that Chaucerian monks, friars, merchants and other salty characters quaffed, prayed and quarrelled beneath those heavy, cobwebbed beams.

The entrance hall to the school has many sporting mementos - footballs and bats signed by sporting heroes; outside boys played in the cool sunlight.

The boys listened to two readings from The Liberators - my stalwart choice is the opening chapter, with its cliffhanger, deathly chase scenes and severed limbs; I also read to them the riot scene in Oxford Circus, when Strawbones Luther-Ross causes mayhem in the middle of the road. The questions were acute and perceptive - even the ones about squirrels. One boy asked me if I'd ever dreamed myself into one of my books - that really caught my imagination. I'm going to try tonight... it would be wonderful, would it not?

I left Pilgrims feeling extraordinarily happy - and also with wistful memories of my old school, Dorset House, which was the inspiration for my first novel, The Other Book.

Farewell to World Book Week then... until next year.

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