Seriously funny

I’m so glad to see ‘This Book Is Funny‘ gathering momentum and support. It shouldn’t need to be argued that funny books are just as important as serious ones, or that the well crafted ones deserve to be equally lauded. Funny isn’t just important; funny is vital. There’s nothing wrong with a book about farts, as long as it’s a good one.

Sometimes people ask me if I have a particular person in mind when I write. Yes and no.

I write to amuse: myself, families, kids – anybody and everybody. My personal tastes veer towards the popular (I’ve no qualms about sticking a bit of Coldplay on or sitting in front of Strictly). I hope in turn the work I create has very broad appeal.

I write for a boy I’ll call Teddy. Teddy was in my class at primary school. He was playful, cheeky, a little bit naughty and a great deal distracted. This drove our teacher nuts. He often told Teddy off for one thing or another, I suppose it was usually fair enough. Then one day, he pulled Teddy up to the front of class and asked him why he hadn’t done his homework, again.

I guess this time Teddy had had enough. He said, ‘I’ll show you why I haven’t done it. It’s because of this.’ And he lifted up his shirt for all of us to see.

He was covered in bruises. Absolutely plastered in them. Front and back. All carefully placed where you’d never see them unless he chose to show you.

I remember it so clearly. Teddy fighting back the tears, his fierce defiance and bravery. The look on our teacher’s face.

Life can be unbearable. For some of us, only for brief periods. For others, constantly. When I spend time in schools, I try and make everybody laugh because I know that there’s absolutely no way of knowing what any of those kids might be going through at home. Hopefully never anything so bad as Teddy, but there are a million other things that can make a child anxious, sad or fearful.

Their parents’ money worries. A house move. A poorly pet. Your mum being in hospital having her bowel removed so that she can never fart again…

Seriously. I cannot physically fart any more. That’s tough, let me tell you. So bring on the books that are funny. Make us smile! Make us laugh! Make us LOL until our sides ache and the tears run down our faces, because real life doesn’t always provide enough joy.

Wherever he is now, I hope that at least Teddy’s adult life has been filled with laughter.