You know the rules – the kids come home from school and end up following the same routine.
Shoes at the door, a drink for their thirsty bodies along with something to eat to stave off the hunger pangs before tea, all school letters (even the crumpled up and ‘lunch’ covered ones) to be passed/shoved at you will fall to the floor in sheer defiance of the time slot known as ‘Homework’.
Silence (sometimes!) descends on the house for this feast of all things Oxford Reading Tree. This can take half an hour, an hour or even two hours. If their tired wee brains are not functioning then there isn’t much more you can do. You can tell they hate you right now. No words have passed their lips but you can tell. Mother’s intuition or possibly I’m sending them some PMT vibes and it’s bouncing back of them with reckless abandon.Eager to slap me in the face and say I DON’T LIKE HOMEWORK TODAY MUM. I sigh with defeat.
You start to breathe like a dragon as you coerce them into reading ONE. MORE. PAGE. Wee C usually blows a fuse at this stage as unknown to me I have asked for a pint of his blood or perhaps three of his brand new adult teeth in payment for not having to do any more. I give up.
The chanting of compound words and ‘the snake is in the grass’ songs fill up the vacuum above their studious heads as I slowly make my way through the reams of letters sent home from school. I think of a t-shirt slogan from Wee C’s collection that says ‘Homework kills trees!’ and I smile – ironic isn’t it.
I notice a letter about book week. Would I like to read to the class? Why yes, I do believe I would. Form filled in. Bosh.
To my delight I get a call the next day. Lovely Mrs B, it would be great if you could come in and read to the P4’s. Why thank you Miss A – pleasure is all mine. No, really, it is. Stop that. The to-ing and fro-ing between us goes on in my head long after she has hung up. I am weird.
I spend a few nights pondering on what it is that I will read to the feisty 8 and 9 year olds slouching in their chairs with near teenage angst. This age group is not a genre that I normally write for so I flick the channels on the TV to try to find something I like or maybe stumble across some inspirational dialogue between the days depressing news and the marmite that is Fashion Police.
I head to the film section and nothing short of an epiphany clears my mind and fills me with awe. The name’s Potter, Harry Potter.
I whoop with delight and watch the first ever Harry all the way through. I had found my muse. My decision is made. I will be reading Harry Potter & The philosopher’s Stone to the unsuspecting P4’s in a few days time.
I still can’t believe it is Fifteen years old though. Hermione, Harry and Ron look about five…little did they know then that it was the start of a legendary story and the prompting of the masses to sit in cafes waiting for a Harry to come along and change their lives too.
I test out the waters on my own eight year old. ‘Yeh Mum, that sounds cool’. Cool it is then. Harry Potter Wardie style – a sight to behold I think.
I have known most of the kids in Wee N’s class for over four years now so to liven it up a bit I thought I would do things a bit differently and get them to re-enact a scene from the book while I read aloud to the class. Sounds easy doesn’t it, only problem was I wasn’t allowed to rehearse with my budding actors and they had concerned questions regarding the lack of time to learn their lines when I turned up on the day. ‘Just go with it’ I was told – so they had no lines to learn. My voice would be the only thing they would be hearing. Yikes!
I chose the scene where Harry and Ron are in their train carriage heading to Hogwarts, getting to know each other, eating sweets, playing with Scabbers the rat and chilling out together as eager young wizards do of an evening. Hermione introduces herself to them both and the rest, as they say, is history. For all you Potter fans out there, the film differs slightly from the book at this point in the story. As it’s book week, I stuck to the literary version – sadly Hermione did not fix Harry’s glasses with a spell after all.
The only slight issue had been that I wasn’t prepared/allowed to take a live rat into the class, so I borrowed one of those wind up gerbils for our pretend Scabbers. It was the wrong colour but it worked well. I already had a Hogwarts dressing up costume so my Hermione was sorted for essential glad rags and that also gave my Ron his wand. My Harry had face-painted glasses on and the sweets that they devoured in the railway carriage were proper Jelly Beans rather than bogies and snails, as portrayed in the film. My nervous young actors did me proud and we brought to life a very short scene from an amazing film. The class were enthralled and you could hear a pin drop as they were all perfectly well-behaved watching our impromptu performance.
Their inspirational feedback and genuine enthusiasm made me re-think my writing. Maybe writing for nearly young adults would be a genre I could perhaps have a go at after all.
On my return home I penned some chapter drafts of my own story and I’ll consider where it might take me as I fill in the gaps. I’m steering clear of vampires and wizards as I think the world has had enough of them. You never know what I might come up with and where it will take me.
A mere muggle that I am.
Thank you JK.