My real name is Gertrude Googelheimer and I am seven thousand three hundred and sixty five years old. I live in a large mansion high on a hill overlooking a frozen lake of milk and I love to eat chocolate frogs for breakfast.
That was the sort of story I used to tell the children in my class at school when I was teaching (seven-year-olds) and they loved it. When I was walking around on duty in the freezing playground, they’d come up and ask Miss Googelheimer questions and we had quite a persona developing.
When I got engaged to P and they all wanted to know what he looked like, I pinned a picture of Yoda behind my desk and told them he was my fiancé. We had a great story going there too. I think when they met the real P he was a bit of a disappointment.
That’s why I love writing for kids. They still have such wonderful imaginations. They can still forget everything that’s real and roll with another idea, suspend all belief and have fun. Adults, in the main, have forgotten how to do that. If I stood up in front of a group of grown-ups and told them my real name was Gertrude Googelheimer, they’d probably have me put away.
I have another story brewing in my head and it’s really bugging me. I have a character. I can see him as plain as day, but I haven’t the faintest idea what his story is. I wish I could bounce him off a group of kids and see what unfolds. Instead I’m having to ‘interview’ him myself.
I’m doing it at work, which is pretty boring at the moment. We’re trying to re-cover all the old books, because we can’t afford new ones – but it’s mind-bogglingly brain-deadening work. I sit folding and sticking plastic while I ask this character questions about himself. Don’t worry, I don’t do it out loud…though that might make life a little more interesting. I suspect those others in the asylum might be good at suspending belief too.