November 11, 2013
Coventry: St John Fisher Primary School and Teachers’ Evening
Thursday saw us heading off to Coventry with Jasmine. We’d never been there before and I’d heard that the city had been severely bombed during the war. Isobel, from the Library Service met us at the station and being a local, explained a lot about what happened. Coventry had been a manufacturing hub for the car industry prior to the war but during that time manufacturing turned to engine building for planes. The Nazis learned about this and in one night wiped out most of the city. Hence many of the most beautiful buildings are gone and there is quite a bit of 1950s architecture. Apparently Coventry’s claim to fame was having the first modern mall in Britain.
We arrived at St John Fisher Catholic Primary School and were immediately made feel very welcome. The children filed into the hall and I have to say they were incredibly quiet and extremely well behaved. Another school brought a dozen students over to join in (I must apologise for forgetting the second school’s name). I had a ball with the group. The drama went down a treat and afterwards I was thrilled with the number of children who bought books – particularly many of the boys. I asked one of the little guys who his favourite author was and he told me it was Roald Dahl. I said he was one of my favourites too. Then the boy looked at me and said, ‘but I think I might have found a new favourite.’ He’s destined to be a little heartbreaker!
After the school visit we headed over to meet Alex who is in charge of the education section at RHUK. There was a meeting of teachers and librarians and beloved British author, Jamila Gavin and uber talented Richard Collingridge – the illustrator of Jamila’s new book Blackberry Blue were going to have a conversation with Joy Court, the director of the local libraries. Cartoonist Neill Cameron was presenting too. I was keen to go along to this and see how things happen in the UK. Alex was kind enough to introduce me to the group. Both talks were very interesting and afterwards the teachers and librarians were thrilled to have their books signed.
We had a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants and it was great to have an opportunity to get to know Jamila and Richard a little better as well as Alex and Jasmine and Lindsay who is interning with Random House at the moment. Isobel joined us too and it was great to hear more about Coventry and her job with the library service. Neill had to dash off to get the train to Newcastle so we didn’t actually get to meet him.
We headed for the train and arrived back in the city about 10.30pm. I couldn’t believe the amount of traffic in London at that time of night and there was some major problem around Trafalgar Square so we arrived back at the flat after 11pm. We had to pack before bed as Friday heralded an early start.