Funny girl

You know some weeks, everything goes a bit pants, and you end up sniveling into a cherry coke and packet of minstrels while watching The Princess Diaries and cursing boys/mothers/small children with a tendency to poo in inappropriate places? Well, this was not one of those weeks. Because, after 41 years of ceaseless toil (baffling my brother with Crack-A-Joke books and boring my parents and friends by reciting endless lines from Blackadder) I have been declared officially FUNNY. Not by my mother (I do not meet any of her many and varied criteria, including not being Penelope Keith), but by some Very Important People in charge of a Very Important Prize, named after a Very Important Man i.e. Roald Dahl.

Yes, peeps, I am actually factually on the shortlist for the Roald Dahl prize, or rather Penny Dreadful is, who is quite a lot funnier than me, as well as slightly (but only slightly) shorter, and slightly (but only slightly) more prone to spilling Ribena.

Which, like I KNOW. I cried real tears when I found out (in the household cleaner aisle at Morrison’s – though I don’t suppose it is the first time someone has wept in front of a display of Vanish Oxy-Action). Not just because it is massive honour to be called funny (with a capital F), but because once upon a time (1979 to be precise) a geeky little bookworm in a cable knit jumper and corduroy skirt left sleepy (aka dull) Saffron Walden and went all the way to That Big London to a Puffin Club Convention (like chess club, but with worse hair) and met an old man who wrote funny books, books she liked a lot.

That girl was me. The man was Roald Dahl. I’m a bit bigger now (not much, but enough), I’ve given up the nylon jumpers, and my hair is less mental, but the way I feel about Roald Dahl is the same. He is the reason I write funny books. Possibly the reason I write at all. So, frankly, sobbing in a supermarket was pretty good going really. In fact I might just start again now…

About Joanna Nadin

A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature. I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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