As if Book Week Scotland wasn’t providing enough literary excitement in one week, I also went along to the official launch of the 26 Children’s Winters exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh, appropriately on the 26th of November.
I recently joined 26, which is a diverse group of people who share a love of words and I was lucky to be chosen as one of 26 writers to respond to Museum objects in the form of sestudes (62 words). The sestudes are now displayed alongside the objects to explore the memories and emotions that the objects evoke.
If you can’t make it along to the exhibition, there’s a virtual online advent calendar revealing a new object and sestude each day in the countdown to Christmas. You can also read what the 26 writers thought about the winter objects they were given for this project here.
The Museum of Childhood is working with the charity It’s Good 2 Give in the development of this project, hosting a workshop for the children and families supported by the charity. It’s easy to understand why I’m delighted to be involved and it was a real thrill so see my words on display with my object.
Here’s my response to the sledge that inspired my sestude.
I was chuffed to bits to be assigned a beautiful antique wooden sledge. I love scouring salvage yards and charity shops for vintage bric a brac and my collection has everything from a carpet beater to a chamber pot. But my interest in items with a past isn’t because I grew up surrounded by antiques.
My childhood home was modern and fashionable with the latest geometric wallpaper, macramé house plant holders and a smoked glass coffee table. This era of mass-produced merchandise meant that childhood toys were predominantly plastic; I took pride in my Sindy doll’s outfits, lusted after my best pal’s Space Hopper and spent hours clicking together two acrylic balls called Clackers.
The sledge bore no resemblance to anything I’d ever played on and that’s what inspired my 62 words. I doubted that many children would remember owning a sledge as ornate and skilfully crafted. Most folk wouldn’t have memories like a scene from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’; they would remember using a cheap substitute for a fancy sledge. The ‘voice’ of my sestude uses urban Scots to shine a mirror on a childhood winter, which more accurately reflects the experience of many rather than a few.
My sestude for 26 Children’s Winters.
A Sledge for Snobs
Only posh folk in the aulden days hud a fancy yin like that. Roond oor bit maist weans used a bin bag or tea tray but ah took the lid aff ma maw’s twin tub washing machine tae sledge. It didnae look as braw as that wooden yin but it worked jist as guid and it couldnae half wheech doon the brae.
Click here to watch a clip from STV news on the exhibition featuring some of the writers.
You can also buy a book featuring all 26 sestudes for £5 in aid of charity – it would make a great stocking filler!
What’re your favourite childhood memories of winter?