Noses

Although noses are widely thought to have been invented in 1979 by Monty Python, for the Big Nose scene in The Life of Brian, they actually date back to 490BC.
That’s when a Greek runner named Pheidippedes attached one to stop sweat dripping from his sweaty forehead into his mouth en route to proclaim a victory at the Battle of Marathon. Although he thought it a good idea at the time, he promptly collapsed and died after delivering the message. Oops. Many people blamed his use of the nose. The result was that they never really took off back then.
It was only 2,469 years later, following the success of Monty Python’s film, that they came into popular use. Now, now most people have one, just like a smart phone. In fact, it’s strange to think that they were only widely adopted 6 years after Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first call on a handheld mobile phone.
Personally, I find them very handy – probably for much the same reason as Pheidippedes. They keep sweat out of my mouth during a post-run stretch against a wall.

Well that was a LOT of fun!

World Book Day is always a mad dash around numerous locations. This year was no exception.

First stop was Mossneuk Primary School in East Kilbride, where almost 500 P1-7s will soon be embarking on creating their own book.  So we talked about how writers write and explored the dark art of editing.

When I ask pupils what editing involves, the first answer is usually, ‘spelling and punctuation’. That’s usually the last thing an editor concentrates on, so I was delighted that the first person with their hand up talked about editors deciding if a story was interesting or made sense.

I left Mossneuk behind and headed for Greenock. (Lunchless. Oh how I suffer for my art! Please send all food parcels to… Of course, I should have done what hilarious Young Adult author Kirkland Ciccone does. He has a rider for his visits: a packet of ginger nuts. Still, we learn from our mistakes (or from what the scales say after too many packets of ginger nuts!).

Awaiting me at King’s Oak Primary School in Greenock were: a) P4-7 and their teachers, b) some parents (always good to see parents at an author visit) and c) Mr IT, the head teacher. Mr IT came up with a neat solution to their projector needing a VGA input and my laptop only having HDMI. However, infinitely more impressive, is that he told he controls his own PowerPoint presentations from his WATCH. Surely that means he’s actually Q from James Bond. ‘Being a head teacher’ is merely cover.

King’s Oak were fab. The Pupil’s Voice group had organised everything, with the support of Mrs Bowles (hello). When I say they’d organised everything, they’d even made sure there was a Lee in Mrs Bowles class! So my fictional Lee was able to shake hands with a real Lee. (Sort of.)

Inverclyde Libraries were also along for my visit, complete with The Case of Wonders. That’s a case of library books to you and me. The two fabulous librarians with the case are trying to take over the world one library card at a time. I’d watch out for them!

That all done, I dashed home and edited a book until 0115. Because I’m like that. And because it was World Book Day. But mainly because a print deadline was looming.

Thanks to everyone who made it such a special day.

Knowetop Primary School

At the end of this week I’ll be visiting Knowetop Primary School in Motherwell. It’s a big school – 500 pupils for starters. (Also available as a main course?) That’s a lot of broccoli squished into the floor after lunchtimes. Or a lot of cake in the staff room. (Must almost be that everyday is somebody’s birthday.)

I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone. But there is a degree of irony about my visit. You see, Knowetop is next to Fir Park – Motherwell FC’s ground. I’m nominally a Motherwell supporter, but I’ve never been to their ground (as I had to confess to Motherwell fan and presenter/comedian Tam Cowan when introducing him at Tidelines Book Festival). So visiting Knowetop will be the closest I’ve been to the hallowed turf.

You might well ask why I am a supposed Motherwell fan  given that I was born in Edinburgh and did all of my primary schooling there before we moved west? Simple: one of my primary classmates lived next to Motherwell player Willie Pettigrew, who went on to play for Scotland, and managed to get me his autograph. That was reason enough for me. (Until then I’d been a St Johnstone fan…for the equally tenuous reason that I passed their ground – Muirton Park as it was then – once a year en route from Edinburgh to Kinguissie.)

Muirhead Primary, Troon

Happily I’ve never before arrived at a school to find pupils sprinting away from me. But that was what happened when I turned up at Muirhead Primary in Troon. Why?

They had a good excuse. It was sports day. And they were running the relay…not running away from me. They certainly had a glorious day for it. Sun screen all round.

I met loads of wonderful people at the school – pupils, parents, teachers (the Deputy Head, Mrs Bell, has the same name as a friend of mine from secondary school, but we soon established that she’s not the same person) and the head teacher, whose portrait you can see on this post.

(She actually does look like her portrait, so well done to whoever drew it.)

A big thank you to everyone for making me so welcome. With luck, it won’t be too long before I’m back.