My first school visit of 2012 was a curious one: I travelled to Lady Lumleys secondary school in canny Pickering to take part in a special project for gifted and talented youngsters called Oxygen. There were 30 students (Y6 and Y7) from this and other schools, and each one had formulated a testing question with which to pummell me as I sat down for a refreshing Q&A session.
‘Have you had any setbacks and how have they affected you?’ said one.
‘What challenges do you face as an author?’
‘Do your future plans reflect your personality?’
That last one was a killer and I needed more time than I had so I mumbled something incoherent and moved on. The kids were alert, thoughtful, prepared, knowledgeable and smart: they gave me quite a grilling. I was massively impressed too when they each went round and summarised what they’d got from the morning. I was never that tuned in when I was 12…
Thanks to Janet Walton, Kate Day, Lorraine Phippen, Barry Hymer and the other organisers.