As you read this I am probably on a train to That London, wearing an inappropriate prom dress and feeling like have just ingested several bowls of porridge and fear. Or possibly (if you are late riser) I will be weeping in corner of Unicorn Theatre having got overexcited at presence of a Python (Monty variety, not snake, though snake less intimidating) and been unable to speak. In very, very improbable scenario, I will be wooping with joy having won Roald Dahl Funny Prize.
This is about as likely as me being cast as in next series of Gossip Girl (travesty, would make excellent kooky English midget. Much more interesting than Liz Hurley), as am not very woopy sort of person, plus shortlist hideously brilliant. Shortlist is also interesting as this year is very girl-heavy. Which is yah book sucks to tedious old men who annually dig out the “women just aren’t funny” routine at the same time as their Dickensian Christmas decorations.
And I was thinking maybe it was just in the olden days (by which I mean 1970s, when we still wore cross-your-heart bras, listened to Showaddywaddy and thought avocados were exotic) when women didn’t play for laughs. But then I remembered what I was reading back then (I was too young for cross-your-heart bras; more thermal vests and criminal cable knit jumpers) and it wasn’t just Charlie, and Danny and Fantastic Mr Fox. The books that would frequently reduce myself, my brother, and often my parents to sobs of laughter were the tales of a belligerent raven called Mortimer, with a habit of eating staircases and hunting for diamonds in the back of cabs.
The Arabel’s Raven series by Joan Aiken is one of the reasons I write books, and why I write funny books, and proof that women have always been funny. Just that maybe not so many people were listening.
So today, whether I win or not, I shall raise a glass to Joan. Both me and Penny Dreadful owe her a huge debt. And if you’re at a loose end, you could root around your bookshelves or the library for The Escaped Black Mamba (the best Mortimer book ever). Oh, and wish me luck…