As I was steadily breast stroking my way up and down the swimming pool this evening (2 kilometres, since you ask), my mind was turning over various plot and character ideas for a book I’d love to write. An Edinburgh Book Festival event yesterday with Neil Gaiman may have helped spur me on a little with getting on with an idea that’s been forming.
After about 40 lengths, and thinking about character names at this point, I began to think of characters from childrens’ books I’d read in the 80s, and how those characters were so well fleshed out that even now I can remember them as clearly as when I read them first.
I always envied the Famous Five, the Walker and Blackett children from Swallows and Amazons, and the Pevensie children from CS Lewis’ Narnia novels. They lived in an age where it was perfectly acceptable for children to leave the house after breakfast armed only with a bag of fish paste sandwiches, some biscuits and a bottle of ginger beer, and not return till tea time. I particularly envied Julian from the Famous Five. He was tall, handsome, blonde, and got to go discovering secret tunnels to castles on islands.*
Anyway, this all set me thinking. The characters are so clear, I know what they’re all doing now.
Julian started work at the BBC as a Blue Peter presenter. He married a champion show jumper, and they have three blonde children, and live on a stud farm in Norfolk. Julian is currently presenting Countryfile on BBC1.
George lives in North London with her partner Isabel, who she married last year in a civil partnership. George works as a trade unions spokesperson and has frequently appeared on Question Time.
Anne became a primary school teacher in Ottery St Mary, and married a farmer. After her second child, she decided not to return to teaching, and now runs a tea room from a converted hay barn. Anne can usually be found at the tea room in a sensible corduroy skirt, sensible shoes and an alice band.
Dick went into banking. After making his first few millions in the 1990s, he invested in a number of dotcom startups and was declared bankrupt in 2007. He now lives as a recluse in the flat above Anne’s tea rooms and spends his time trying to come up with ideas to pitch on Dragons’ Den. **
* Unfortunately I turned out more like Adrian Mole. Average height, dark hair, glasses and rather geeky. All this I could cope with (and to be honest Harry Potter has perhaps helped rehabilitate average height, dark haired bespectacled geeks), but Adrian Mole found himself working in the government on great crested newts – and what did I have to do recently? Answer questions from the public about how the Scottish Government is helping Great Crested Newts. Time for a new job, or maybe I should read what Sue Townsend has in store for me next…
** Timmy died of old age and was buried in the Blue Peter garden. His remains are to be exhumed when the BBC moves Blue Peter to Manchester and reinterred in Pøets Corner in Westminster Abbey.