PATCHING, TAILORING and even EDITING! by Enid Richemont
I am a compulsive editor, especially of picture book texts which really have to be spot-on perfect, so from time to time I check over the ones that haven't flown, to find out why, and to see if they can be improved. If I haven't checked them for ages, I feel I'm coming at them from a different place - as a very picky reader. I was once passionate about the concept, but now I'm reading it cold, with all passion spent, and I can see its flaws, often glaring, but once upon a time I was in love with this story, so can it be rescued?
At present I've been re-acquainting myself with my "Little Bad King", partly because it slots into current politics, which won't interest its intended age group one whit, except for the themes of fairness, greed, and nasty people getting their come-uppance in amusing ways, none of which is age exclusive. This is how it starts:
ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS A LITTLE BAD KING.
HE WAS MEAN. HE WAS GREEDY, AND (SSSSH! SECRET!)
HE LOOKED JUST LIKE A ROLY-POLY PUDDING.
(This is where we see the real king, and he's not very pretty!)
ALL OVER TOWN, THERE WERE PICTURES OF THE KING.
HE WAS BIG. HE WAS SPLENDID.
THERE WAS EVEN A STATUE.
(This is where we see the hype - bulging muscles etc etc)
And, of course, the king will get his come-uppance via an imaginative tailor, and a small boy who just doesn't believe the hype. NB That legal declaration about book characters having no resemblance or connection with anyone living or dead, well I can think of at least three little bad kings, but that's just coincidence, isn't it?
I recently watched a disurbing programme about how to become a dictator (my secret ambition), and learnt about publicity, which I hadn't considered the first time round, so I gave my Little Bad King false images, and even a statue - great to illustrate!
So why the sewing pics? Well, many decades ago, I bought, for £3 in a charity shop, a jacket I became wed to. The fabrics it was made from were quite cheap - the kind of linings you put into a man's jacket, shiny and with a 'shot' effect - two different colours interwoven so they became glazes. Such a shame they're nearly always invisible. A light padding, a zip, two pockets and a simple mandarin collar - also a perfect fit, and the colours so subtle and shimmering. I wore it and wore it, and it was hugely admired, but tailor's lining fabric isn't meant to be long-lasting, and it began to fray. Repair - aka darning - wasn't possible, so I began to patch. Finding fabrics which would blend into original seemed almost impossible, until I began looking at ribbons, which with their built-in selvedge edges and slight glitter, proved perfect.
There is only so long you can get away with this, though, and every year I wonder if this might be the final farewell. This year I resigned myself - IT WOULD HAVE TO GO! But as with much-loved books and much-edited manuscripts, I couldn't do it. We have a small local shop specialising in expensive interior design stuff which also sells ribbons. Well I went, and I looked - I wasn't going to BUY anything, was I? The rest is history.