If you’re wondering why it has all been a little quiet around here lately, it’s because I have been shipwrecked!! Not literally, of course, but I have been writer in residence for a couple of weeks in the fascinating Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth. They approached me a while back to ask if I’d be interested in teaching creative writing to school groups in the museum, and being a huge fan of all things maritime, I said yes.
The museum is an incredible place, and really worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s also a little… smelly, as the building used to be a fish curing factory (as in, they were preserved, not as in they were sick and they came here to get better). Even though it hasn’t been used for years, it’s still a bit like getting whacked round the face by a wet herring when you walk in the door. But you soon get used to it, and there really is so much to see and do here.
As for my role, the creative writing sessions were all about shipwrecks in the 19th Century, so I didn’t want to be Alexander Gordon Smith, the modern writer. Instead, I donned a top hat and some incredibly hairy mutton chop sideburns (called Hercules and Charles) and became Thaddeus Sampson Ulysses Meriwether, Esquire, the world famous newspaper reporter. Well, he likes to think he’s world famous, but in actual fact he’s slightly rubbish and desperate for the world to take him seriously. It was quite good fun pretending to be somebody else for a couple of weeks, and I’m a little sad to hand Thaddeus over to the freelancers who will be running my session from now on. I got quite attached to the bumbling Victorian gentleman!
And I’m not sure what happened to Hercules and Charles, they escaped before I could get them back in their cage…
The school groups were all brilliant, and did amazing work. The kids were aged from 6-9, so quite a bit younger than the ones I usually work with, but the ideas they came up with for their shipwreck stories were amazing! I think my favourite suggestion had to be the giant clumsy chicken monster wearing a bra, pants and a hat which accidentally sunk the ship while it was out for its morning swim. Genius!! Thanks to all the classes who took part in my session, you were fantastic. And a huge thanks too to John, Liam, Gary and everybody else at the museum for making Thaddeus feel so welcome! All in all, it was an amazing two weeks.
But I won’t miss that smell…
Oh, and I put together some resources for the sessions and I’ll post some of them up here soon in case any of you want to use them for your writing.
Until then, this is the remarkably renowned, incredibly talented, much loved, almost royal, beautifully coiffured and behatted, ever modest Victorian reporter Thaddeus Sampson Ulysses Meriwether, Esquire, saying farewell and good day!