Tuesday, November 10, 2009

half a lifetime?

The editor at CBS Sunday Morning asked if I had any photos of my son Mike back at the period when I first had the idea for The Graveyard Book - late 1985. I looked. We really didn't have any. I wandered next door and asked Mary (his mum, my former wife and for these last five years my friend and next-door neighbour) if she had any photos from back then. "No," she said. Then, "Do you mean those transparencies? I have them in an envelope somewhere." She vanished and came back with a large manila envelope from a long time ago. "Here."

Half a lifetime ago -- literally -- I was nearly 25, and working for magazines. Henry Fikret, who photographed a lot of the interviews I did, volunteered to take some photos of me and my family, and he did.A week later the envelope arrived, and I realised that everything he shot was on colour transparencies -- like huge slides -- and I was never sure what do with them, other than being fairly sure I couldn't take them down to Boots the Chemist and have prints knocked out. So they stayed in their envelope, and they kept their secrets, and were forgotten.

Yesterday I had the transparencies scanned, and finally got to see lots of pictures I had never actually seen before of Holly as a baby, Mike at the time that I would have watched him riding his tricycle around the graveyard, and me... at exactly half my age: A young journalist who had sold a very small handful of short stories and two non-fiction books, with dreams of writing fiction and comics. At the time I was dressing in grey, but was getting tired of the way that you would buy something grey and take it home and discover that it was a blueish grey or a brownish grey, and wondering if I'd have the same problem if I just started to dress in black.

And half a lifetime on, it seemed like it might be good to put one up here. I checked, and Mary didn't mind. What odd clothes we wore back then. What big glasses. And look, my hair is practically normal.

So long ago, and it went like the blink of an eye.


Birthday wishes are flooding in from around the globe. I wish I could reply to everyone personally, but it would take the next 365 days... so thank you. Thank you all.

And a particular thank you to Garrison Keillor, who announced my birthday on NPR and who also told me that on my thirteenth birthday they burned Slaughterhouse 5, and that on my ninth birthday Sesame Street was born. The Writers Almanac is a marvellous thing.


In January I will be part of a free concert for all ages on January 16, 2010, at 7pm, in the World Financial Center Winter Garden, New York. I'll be the narrator for the performance of Peter and the Wolf, performed by the (whose website you should visit to get details).

Kissing is about spreading germs (and this is a good thing), a scientist says.

Alan Moore is leaping aboard the Underground magazine bandwagon. Following the success of IT and OZ, Alan's Dodgem Logic is coming out. There's a great interview with Alan at

(And enormous congratulations to Alan, who is now a grandfather, and to Leah and John, who are now parents, and Edward Alec Moore-Reppion, who is now, um, born. A Scorpio, like his grandfather and his whatever-exactly-I am, sort of honorary great-uncle or something. Not that we Scorpios believe in that sort of thing, of course.)

Again, thank you all for the birthday wishes...

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