Literary critic


The ancient Egypt work continues. This half term’s focus: creating an Egyptian costume. I’m thinking minimal clothing and maximum eyeliner. My costume-making skills have gone into overdrive since Halloween is also approaching. Only son wants to be some sort of ghost clown thing. Daughter three wants to go as a ghost version of herself which seems a very good idea to me since it only involves coating her in vaseline and throwing some flour at her.

Autumn half term always clashes with a particularly busy time work wise. It would be good to have some sort of balance, but work life balance is not always perfectly balanced. It can tilt in any particular direction at any particular time.

For now I am typing away to the strains of Lady Gaga Just Dance. Daughter one and only son are doing a challenge. Only son is winning. The kittens are showing a lot of interest in the Wii remotes. An ill daughter three is croaking along from the sofa.

I’ve been trying to encourage only son to do some reading for half term. I’m not having much success. I’m particularly keen to get him off Diary of a Wimpy Kid since he has read every single book at least 10 times. Ditto Horrid Henry. In fact he has read Horrid Henry so thoroughly that he can quote bits and provide a literary analysis of them.

“The problem with Horrid Henry, mum, is that it is full of sub-optimal clauses. Plus the author just keeps writing ‘Horrid Henry says’ all the time. She could use other words like stammers,” he informed me the other day. Who’d be a children’s writer with critics like that? Tough crowd. I’ve told him to write an alternative ‘better’ version. He is not showing much enthusiasm. “I don’t want to be a writer like you, mum,” he says. “I want a low-stress job.”

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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