Happy Back to the Future Day feat. 2015 is boring

I was born in 1995, not 1989, so I’ve only had 20 years to get ready for Back to the Future day… or 10 years or so if you consider that until my parents showed my brother and I the films, we hadn’t a clue what a DeLorean was. It still flipping crept up though! Like I swear ten minutes ago it was 2006 and I was planning to make a functional hover board in time for this very day… the only things I’ve made since then have been acceptable grades and a Twitter account.

Still, you lot in your 30s upwards have no excuse. Where are the hover boards in the mass market? Why don’t my shoelaces ties themselves up? Why can’t my microwave rehydrate pizza?  And, most importantly, why the fuck is there no holographic Jaws 19? On reflection I shouldn’t complain too much, having seen the Jaws sequels they did do, and we’re getting Star Wars soon, which makes up for it all… In fact, with The Force Awakens, Bush versus Clinton, Jurassic Park, and Terminator, there’s probably not a lot of point bemoaning the lack of self-tying laces, because aside from letting the gays get married and Universal growing a sense of humour, shit doesn’t seem to have changed for 30 years.

And on that note, I have to go write an article about Halloween. Enjoy today, snowflakes, because when you show your grandchildren the trilogy they’re going to freak out that you were alive in 2015…

Assorted Jewellery Business

I can’t believe it’s been three days since my last post and I’ve got the itch to write you all again. I’m still not sure what I want to say, either in terms of blogging generally or right now, so maybe the itch is really just the desire to anything that isn’t vacuuming.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but Ruby and I are doing a craft fair next Saturday, and next week I have new – and scary – work on which I don’t want to talk about yet in case it falls flat and I look flaky… it’s awkward when you mention a new project to people that ends soon after starting; I always feel like it makes me come across as incapable of sticking things out, or like I was talking myself up in the first place. So come back in six months and I’ll tell you why I’m nervous! I can talk about the craft fair though – and if you’re in Southend next Saturday, you should come and say hi. I’m selling ye olde stationery and accessories, and Ruby her brooches. I’m biased because I know her, but aren’t these the cutest things:

Happily, Ruby has a proper job alongside her knack for drawing on shrink-wrap plastic, so she is at the fair as a general arty person, as opposed to my professional-arty-person-who-will-therefore-be-hoping-to-make-much-monies. We’re both hoping people turn up.

I’ve just remembered something else I haven’t mentioned and should brag about: the other week I did an interview with the wonderfully-haired Jess at Jicsi’s Jewellery, which was great fun and made me want to scratch the ole’ blog itch even more. Maybe I could get into interviewing cynics, what do you reckon?

Review: ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’, Judith Kerr

Polite notice/potential spoiler alert: this one might make you sniffle. And, um, it’s about a Jewish family in the 1930s. But not quite like how you’d think.

In 2013 I was lucky enough to go to the Hay Festival and attend an interview – which was more of a conversation – between two of the most prominent writers my childhood, Judith Kerr and Michael Morpurgo. I learnt that Michael Morpurgo failed his 11+, that Prince Philip read Mog and that Judith Kerr is not, as I’d assumed, born-and-bred English. She was born in Berlin, where her father, Alfred Kerr, was a big deal in literary circles. He saw the writing on the wall and spoke out against Hitler before a lot of people did… He was also Jewish, so his name was on the top of a list the Nazi party published stating who they would shoot should they come to power. He moved his family to Switzerland in 1933, just before the Nazis were elected.

I wouldn’t normally add so much background to a fiction novel – and you certainly don’t need to know it to read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit because the novel is, technically, a children’s book. It’s funny, it’s easy to read and its main character, Anna, is a little bit like every seven-year-old who lives with her brother and their parents. The whole story takes place before 1939 – war isn’t really mentioned – and the plot concentrates on Anna’s experience leaving Berlin for Switzerland. Then her experience leaving Switzerland for Paris, then Paris for London. First and foremost it’s a children’s book, about children and aimed at them. But it’s also an autobiography; Judith Kerr writes in the notes that she wrote it to help her own children learn about her childhood.

Course, reading When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit as an adult, in the same week Syrian children were drowning in the Mediterranean, it was surreal to realise that Anna and her family were some of the first refugees of the Second World War. It also made me want to cry my eyes out, because Anna is almost completely unaware of what’s going on outside of her little world; anti-Semitism, the probability of war and the realities of seeking refuge in a foreign country aren’t such bold themes as they would be in an ‘adult’ novel. That’s what makes it so poignant (and a little bit ironic). Finishing the book made me want to find anyone who opposes helping the current refugee crisis and throw them into a dingy off the coast of Greece. This novel is historical, but it also couldn’t be more current.

WHSPR

I got to meet Judith Kerr at Hay, and at the time I didn’t realise how lucky I was to meet her and to see her interviewed. Mog the Forgetful Cat and The Tiger Who Came to Tea are classic children’s stories, but it’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit that you should make your children read as soon as they’re old enough to get through a prose novel. Then you should borrow it off them. (If you buy it, try to get hold of the Essential Modern Classics edition; there are notes from Morpurgo and Kerr plus a bit of historical background.)

I’m off to read the next book in the series. There are two more, obviously… there’s the war to get to yet. I’m just glad I know Anna has a happy ending.

You can support my work every time I review a book using Patreon.

Looking Forward

I’ve got this really strange sensation of wanting to write a blog while not having a clue what to write about. There’s that feeling in my stomach saying ‘take a break from regular work and write a blog saying hey’, which is not a feeling to be ignored, but I’m genuinely stuck for a topic. I’ve considered National Writer’s Month but I don’t actually like the concept and I don’t want to spend 500 words bitching, and I’ve considered freelancing (I do like the concept, but I think I’d be bitching about that too), and a retrospective about how this time last year I was out in Greece. But do I want to look back at something in the past, or look forward? Tonight is Once Upon a Time night, so I want to look forward, to something I’m looking forward to.

I just noticed how tautological that phrase is, which makes me want to use it more. Anyway, maybe I’ll settle for saying hey, how are you? The weather here is grey, which matches my jumper, and I’m in two minds about walking into town to collect a book and craft fair supplies. On the one hand: fresh air, a new book and more supplies. On the other: it will probably rain, I have more pressing things to do and I’m going into town tomorrow anyway. Maybe I’ll meet myself halfway and walk to the post box… my office is feeling claustrophobic this afternoon but if I try to work from any other room I’ll probably just end up watching Once Upon a Time and forgetting I have a job.

Tempting. I realised something a moment ago: this post feels a lot like I imagine my Patreon letters to be. I’ve not had any takers on there yet (and this isn’t a hint, although you can feel free to take it as one) and the thing I’m looking forward to most is – hopefully – getting patrons who choose the letter tier, so I can write to them saying hello. To be honest I will probably discuss the weather in some capacity in every one, but I am looking forward to one day writing to people. I like to think that if I’m ever a novelist who gets sent fan art and letters, I’ll reply to those too. So I guess I am looking forward, and to something I’m looking forward to!

The English language, holy shit. No wonder most of us use emojis.