Saturday, 23 April 2016

Fear for Ears

What is the first thing you think about when you're packing for a long weekend at a Book Festival? It's ears, isn't it? I mean, my best prop is my ears. Not my ears, of course, but those ears, the ears that belong to my character around whom and which my story is based. 

Got it now? 

Good. (Here's Raymond modelling the ears so you get a clearer picture.)

So I find my ears in their sensible box. Then I decide I can't really pack the sensible box because it's too big and because, when I add several copies of my book, papers, other props, clothes, mosquito repellent, sun cream, sunglasses, etc etc I know my case is too heavy and bulky. 

Ok, so no box. And if the ears get crushed, I'll have to make up another story.

But the ears don't get squashed. Of course they don't. They were made by Kinnetia Isidore, costume maker par excellence, and they are built to last! Almost....

The thing about the ears is that once I put them on I can face a crowd of children and not feel daunted. With the ears on I can talk in different voices. I can adapt my voice for different ages to understand. I can read out parts of my book without having to look at the book.  And I usually let the kids have a close look at the ears and touch them. They feel the sequin scales. They marvel at the flap of material that hides the blue gobstopper (wooden button), and they sometimes try them on. I like to think that if they remember nothing else about me or my talk or even my book, they will remember the ears.

I was haunted by my ears when I was little. Big Ears was a nickname that one of my sisters gave me. How sweet of her!  Probably her revenge for something I did to her at some point. But nonetheless when you're a teenager the last thing you want is ears that stick out. Thankfully now I've turned that to an advantage. And an even bigger advantage comes from the fact that I have a dent in my left ear. Unequal ears? Yeah, sure! Perfect for a dragon who wants to keep a spare gobstopper handy and has no pockets to safeguard it.

But even so, I'm a little cautious. I carry the ears with me everywhere I go. I'm frightened someone might sit of them and break the headband. I'm frightened someone might steal them. I'm terrified I'll leave them in one of the rooms in the library and they'll be swept up inside a pile of discarded paper clippings from the many craft activities and consigned to a rubbish dump.

Oh, stop being paranoid.

Well, maybe there are other things I'll be fearful for when I next do a long weekend at a Book Festival? 

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