Random questions were thrown at me from the other children – why is writing so great? How do you get an imagination? How do you write a book?
For the imagination question I pointed outside the window and said: ‘Look at the High Street, imagine how it looked 300 hundred years ago when highwaymen roamed these parts and the Cockroad Gang met in the Blue Bowl (that got a lot of them bouncing in their seats). ‘Imagine how the street will look in 50 years’ time when hover cars glide up and down and bicycles have no wheels but a long strip allowing you to weave between the hover cars. (Several sci-fi fans got quite excited at this point). Now think about the subterranean world below us where the strange folk live.’
‘Zombies!’ shouted naughty boy number one.
‘Zombies in Bugattis!’ yelled his friend.
A nice little girl still in her Halloween costume from the night before asked me if the wolf from my book The Wolf from the Ridge was a friendly wolf. That started off a ‘favourite pets’ discussion.
‘Did you know,’ I told the children. ‘They say dogs are 97 per cent wolf and as dogs evolve they look a bit less like them? If you were to look at a photograph from a hundred years ago of a breed of dog it would look very different to now.’
‘A wolf? Really?’ Naughty boy number one sat bolt upright and grabbing his friend they ran off. Ah, well, I thought, I’ve lost a couple of my audience, and went on answering questions and helping the children to write their stories.
After about ten minutes back bounced the two boys with a book and a smartphone. ‘Look, Miss,’ said naughty boy number one. ‘Is that what you mean?’ He had a website up all about the evolution of dogs and had brought along a dog book they’d found as back-up.
All children have an imagination, but it needs a trigger to start it. Finding the right technique may not be easy but it’s certainly worth it.
And just to finish off – a mother of one of the children came up to me after the group had disbanded. ‘I wish I still had my imagination,' she said. 'I don’t know when I lost it. Probably when I was about their age.’ She gestured at two eight-year-olds feverishly colouring in their rainbow dog pictures.
Do we really lose our imagination or can it be lit up at any age? I like to hope we are all still capable of dreaming-up amazing things at any point in our lives.