I’m not going to talk about the content of Michael’s lecture – that will be handled elsewhere, including on his own web site. The content was of course engaging and convincing.
Actually, I’m most impressed about his power to hold an audience. He started at six prompt. He spoke clearly and warmly, and kept us entertained as well as informed, continued for an hour and at no time did I ever feel that I’d had enough. Often I can listen to a lecture, find the content fascinating but be bored by the form – even at Salford where the seats are comfortable. This was not the case last night. When he stopped at seven, I wanted him to carry on. If anything, it was the questions which were tedious. Some were mere comments, confirming what he had said. Others were more affirmations of the questioner’s own beliefs. No one raised anything of note.
I felt a little overwhelmed. I’ve been in the same room as him several times and I’ve even been published in the same book. Would he remember that? Maybe. In the very first edition of Lines in the Sand, in which we both appear, Frances Lincoln managed to chop out the last third of my story. So that other writers would not believe me to be an idiot, Mary Hoffman, the editor, emailed the complete story to all the other writers and illustrators in the book. It’s probably, though, a case of I know him but he doesn’t know me. And of course he was the Children’s Laureate.
Yet it is unfair to him to be overwhelmed. He is human. He is pleasant. In addition he is focussed, he is charismatic and he communicates well. All good qualities for a Children’s Laureate?