Tuesday 31 July 2012

Read, read, read - William Faulkner

The Olympic Games are on.  In case you hadn’t noticed. I don’t feel I can blog without mentioning them. 

I don’t have a television, so I’m not watching them.  But I do like to catch up with events over the Internet.  There’s something really exciting about following big sporting events.  Makes me want to be sporty.  And I am so not. 

But thankfully, I am not alone in my dreams.  I heard a radio programme today discussing the merits of the Games which are inspiring nations of youngsters to take up sport. How wonderful is that? 

Now all the world needs is a literary Olympics.  Seriously.  Imagine the most talented wordsmiths coming together from across the globe to show their wares.  Imagine 24-hour discussions of the finest writing ever.  Imagine a nation of youngsters inspired to read. 

Not just books competing with one another.  But poetry, plays, scripts.  Letters.  Whatever would get people reading.  Even comic strips.  Yes, even comic strips.  I used to read comics as a youngster.  Not very cool ones, I might add.  Bunty, Mandy, Judy.  Girls' stuff.  But my sister and I loved them.  My mum would buy them for us every Friday.  With a bar of chocolate into the bargain.  She was so good to us.  A nice light read after a long week.  And let’s not forget that the comics kept us quiet for a good couple of hours too.  Good for everyone. 

Here in France comic strips are big business.  This may be the case elsewhere too.  I just don't think I've ever paid attention.  It's a whole new world for me.
Shops, clubs, even festivals are devoted to them.  And adults here love them too.  It’s popular practice to litter conversations with references - if not direct quotes - from comic strips. Very annoying when you’re not in on the joke. But a great cultural richness. Pop into a bookshop here during the lunch break and see rows of business men in suits engrossed in a comic strip annual of choice.  It's a stunning picture.  The boy in them plain to see.  
But maybe comic strips are not just for children.  Indeed, evidence tells me the contrary.  And let's face it, the limitation to children is all in my head. All the more reason we need these Olympics.  To break down the barriers. To take away the prejudices. To experience new perspectives on reading. 
Just like London 2012, a literary Olympics would have something for everyone.  Nations sharing their treasures to inspire us all.  We need nations to read.  We want children to read.  The literary Olympics is my suggestion.  What's yours?  

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