I’ve created a monster. Not a staple-browed, ham-fisted, bolty-necked ‘friend’ you understand. Oh no, happily we’re talking metaphors here. I’ve actually created a job for myself which has completely run me over and is snowballing downhill with my arms and legs protruding from within.
About a twelve years ago, I innocently offered my services as a visiting writer to schools, thinking young people might be interested in hearing from someone who’s been ‘at the type-face’ for a while, earning money from writing funny.
I’ve now run workshops at more than 600 schools from opposite ends of the spectrum; from small private schools with their own string of ponies in the stable block, to huge razor-wired comprehensives, and everything in-between. Both here and abroad.
And my findings? Wait for it. Nearly everyone can write.
I’ve been writing for the last twenty odd years – originally as a stand-up comedian, then for just about every medium there is; GQ, The Sunday Times, Radio 4, Channel 4…I was e...
Talking’s great. No really, it’s fab. It’s all the rage. We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving as human beings, improving ways to more effectively communicate with each other and express ourselves in a meaningful way.
But now – it seems to me – the whole communication thing is, in some ways, devolving. Over the last twelve years I’ve been running creative writing workshops with young people, specialising in the tricky art of humour. I’ve visited over six hundred schools, all over the country, and the sessions often culminate in the pupils sharing their work with their peers by reading it out in front of the class. The proof of the pudding is in the reading. Y’know, if laughter occurs, it’s funny.
However, increasingly, when I ask for volunteers to read out their work, the body language of the entire class changes. Eyes are downcast, and the floor suddenly becomes hugely interesting. Ask an individual to stand up and read and they recoil like a salted slug. It’s only natural...