The Luckiest Kids in the World....
...are at this moment thinking about their week at Ted Hughes' house in Lumb Bank, or maybe that should be on Lumb Bank. It's in Yorkshire, a very beautiful part of Yorkshire (is there any other sort?) about a five minute drive from the Hebden Bridge train station. And then a ten minute walk down a very steep and icy hill -- if you haven't remembered to bring your 4 x 4. The kids (twenty or so between 12 and 18) spent five days on an Arvon Creative Writing course -- sleeping in the converted barn, cooking enormous communal meals, sitting around a big roaring open fire and writing stories and poetry.
Their wise and sensitive tutors, Tim Pears (novelist) and Leanne O'Sullivan (poet), were there to talk about their work, and about writing, and about living and thinking.
Lucky me. I joined for one night to partake of a wonderful meal and talk about my work. The kids asked the best questions. Some showed me their poems and stories. I was gratuitously rude about fan fiction (sorry Alex). And then I retired to my perfectly tiny monastic room in the beautiful old house overlooking the breathtaking valley under the sparkling stars. Too many adjectives, Meg. And yet, somehow, not enough.
The next morning, with the sky still pink from sunrise, I set off up the icy hill on foot accompanied by a delightful entourage of kids and teachers, all of whom had more puff than I did. I kept stopping to 'admire the view', but no one was fooled.
From the window of the train home, I saw two hares standing in the middle of an empty snowy field. They might have been waving at me. And I read a very beautiful poem that one of the kids had written for me that morning.
At a time of cutbacks, book shortages and library closures, what price can you put on an experience like that?
For me, anyway.