A birthday message from The Chief

Posted by Kirsty Telford on 19th November 2020

The following message is from The Chief, Ministry of Stories’ enigmatic and ellusive editor, who has been part of  our Story Making workshops since day one.

Yes. Hello. The Chief here. Rob, the Ministry’s Chief Executive, rudely interrupted me from my Phone Boxes of London jigsaw puzzle to ask if I might write a few celebratory words. 10th Birthday I hear? Well yes, I have been here the longest, and yes, I have seen it all. So I suppose I am the most qualified to set the record straight.

And as a matter of fact I do remember when those buffoons first arrived. Ben with his ‘enthusiasm’, Lucy with her ‘bright ideas’, and the other one, Nick, with all of his ‘useful words’. I was just tucking into my second tinned rice pudding of the morning when, hurrrrrumph, they came crashing through the door with all their talk of children and stories!

I’ve never heard such piffle piffle. Everybody knows children can’t write stories.

And then, hot on their heels they arrived. An army of volunteers, and the children, with their small faces and optimism. Nearly knocked me off my bean bag.

Now as you know, I’ve never been a fan of children, what with their feet and rucksacks and jibber jabber. Full of sweets, but short on ideas. Never a story to tell. And NEVER any help when my printing machine is on the blink. But they kept coming. 10,000 of them to be exact. Week after flipping week. Brimming with confidence and laughing. Enjoying themselves. Learning even.  Sometimes they came with their schools; other times they came in their holidays. Sometimes they came on holiday from their schools – carrying their teachers on their backs, a clipboard and a sandwich. Some of them came every week. First with their brothers and sisters, next with their cousins and neighbours. And some of them have stuck around for years.

They go on to ‘great things’ I hear. Writing books, making films, publishing newspapers. University. Being happy.

But let us be clear. Children are not real authors. They are not wordsmiths. They are not language tinkerers. They do not have great ideas, and they most certainly don’t know their way around an imagination.

It is NOT ok for children to publish recipe books, travel guides, newspapers or poetry, as they have done at Ministry of Stories.

The fact that they were allowed to make a Long Player with ‘professional musicians’ in 2013 is a disgrace.

And when they decided to declare their independence and establish their own republic in 2012, it was frankly embarrassing.

The next bright idea I hear they are hatching is ‘Poetry in Unexpected Places’: tying poems to dogs and leaving messages at bus stops. It has to stop!

And don’t get me started on this Rob with all his new fangled ideas about working with schools and Writing Labs. I ask you!

I can’t open my hatch for party poppers and balloons round here. And some bright spark overordered on sugar dusted bogies so we’re having to eat our way out of those too.

But Happy Birthday Ministry of Stories – there, I said it. Now back to it, these bananas won’t peel themselves.

Let’s see if you’ve got another 10 years in you.



NEXT PAGE: We can be weird here