I am aware that we are all limbering up to Great British Bake Off semi final time, but I must just report on something that has happened that is almost as exciting, well, in the Boo household anyway.
At the weekend, the children picked up an events brochure for Leicester and got very excited because our favourite poet, John Hegley would be performing.
I knew he was coming to Leicester this week to do a book signing, but it was during the school day, so I had decided not to mention it to the children because they would be disappointed that they would not be allowed to go. When they told me about the reading I thought that this was what they were referring to.
It turns out that they weren’t. As well as signing his book at Waterstones, he was also being the grand finale act of a literature festival on Monday night at Leicester’s Guild Hall.
I rang up to see if there were any tickets left. I was fairly despondent about the prospect, but as it turned out there were enough tickets for me, Andrea, and the children. We were overjoyed.
Last night we set out on our odyssey into the dreary night, to be entertained with poems aplenty.
It was worth all the rushing about, and travelling and parking, and plodding through the freezing streets in the Autumnal gloom.
It was ace.
Not only were there tons of readings from his new poetry book; ‘Peace, Love & Potatoes’, but there were also drawings of D.H. Lawrence with a tortoise and some potatoes, a storming rendition of Luton Bungalow, which is one of my all time favourite Hegley numbers, and a wicked rendition of Oscar’s favourite: ‘I am a Guillemot’. There were new songs too.
And Tallulah had the singular honour of being asked to imitate a trumpet no less than five separate times.
Which is not to be sneezed at, or indeed, trumpeted over.
It was about two and a half hours of the greatest fun I’ve ever had in a Tudor Guild Hall, including the time I slipped on a icy puddle in 1979 and had to be taken to the Tudor first aid room to have my wound staunched.
At the interval there was a competition to come up with a poem related to the picture of D.H. Lawrence (don’t ask) taped to the lectern. We all joined in with gusto, and nearly everyone in the audience submitted something, including the children.
To my utter delight, all three of the children’s poems were picked to be in the final half dozen, which John Hegley himself read out.
But it was Oscar’s that was the winning entry.
It was a simple poem:
I love potatoes and tortoises.
I love rainbows.
I like John Hegley.
This was accompanied by a picture of John, balancing a potato in each hand, and standing next to a rainbow that looked like a fig roll.
It might not sound like much, but I swear to you that when he read it out, it sounded exactly like the poetry it was, and nobody begrudged my boy his prize.
Oscar’s prize was a hand designed voucher by John, which entitled him to a signed and dedicated copy of his new book from Waterstones at the book signing today.
We were all over the moon.
This morning we went to see Oscar’s teacher and the headmistress, who both absolutely agreed that it was quite important to let Oscar take a couple of hours out of school this afternoon so I could take him to claim his prize.
So, that is what we did.
Mr. Hegley was a total legend. He greeted Oscar very solemnly and made sure that Oscar knew how much he liked his poem. Apparently he had given the other poems to the lady in charge of the festival, so she could take pictures of them, and put them on the website, but he had kept Oscar’s poem and drawing to take home with him.
Oscar was so proud I actually thought he would burst.
I was fairly bursty myself.
They went to chose Oscar’s book and dedication, and then, after signing some books for other people, and doing a reading and some songs, John Hegley and Oscar settled down for a colouring session, filling in some of the illustrations in the books.
I watched them working peacefully away, on opposite sides of the table. Occasionally one of them would look up and appraise the other’s work, and nod. I heard Mr. Hegley say: ‘Nice space hopper work there, Oscar.’
It was epic.
In the truest sense of the word.