Minister of the Month – Paul Emsley
Name: Paul Emsley
Volunteer role: Shopkeeper at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, mostly.
Favourite story and why:
Stig of the Dump by Clive King is glorious, as is Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, but so are If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino and Orlando by Virginia Woolf, so I’m going for a mash up of those, but with bits of Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut and Wuthering Heights by by Emily Brontë mixed in.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a freelance copywriter with a grown-up child who doesn’t need help with homework anymore. I LOVE homework – especially when it’s someone else’s.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?
I read about the Ministry years ago, but after a dozen visits to the website, I still couldn’t quite figure out what it was. I knew I’d love it, so I figured I should take a look.
Were you nervous about anything before starting?
YES, everything! But only for about the first three minutes. Training was so well thought out and inspired so much confidence I felt instantly at home – and couldn’t wait to get started. I was surrounded by an amazing team who supported me every step of the way. I can honestly say I’ve genuinely loved every minute of it.
What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?
I knew I’d enjoy mentoring – and being involved in a Workshop is a fantastic experience. But I’m always amazed to see how genuinely weird an afternoon in Hoxton Street Monster Supplies can be. Bafflement, hilarity, utter deadpan seriousness – it’s impossible to guess how a customer will react to an invisible cat or a box of Cubed Earwax. It’s a special place. And then there’s the pricing gun.
What has been the best experience of volunteering?
Seeing a child’s wonder when they see their words in print is a tremendous privilege. But nothing, I’d like to repeat this, nothing, beats the thrill of shooting a tin of Creeping Dread with a perfectly placed ‘Best Before’ label.
Has volunteering changed anything in your life?
I’ve gained some brilliant new skills, met some wonderful new people and had some truly bizarre experiences.
Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words:
Really, really cool.
What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?
You’ll love it. Pop in for an induction. It’s so much more fun and so much rewarding than you’d ever think.