Those Literary Influences in Full

One of the things about being a published author (did I mention I’ve got a book coming out at all?) is that people ask you about the writers who inspired you growing up. I had a pretty bookish childhood; I was one of those kids adults used to complain always had their nose in a book. But despite having access to an extensive library of the cream of 20th century children’s literature, if I’m honest when I think back to what I enjoyed reading as a child there’s always one book that stands out above all the rest:

copy of the Puffin Joke Book

I remembered it falling apart even as I had it as a child, so I had assumed it had long got lost along the way as my parents moved from country to country over the years. But I did grow up in a family where discarding books is a powerful taboo (it took me three house moves in as many years before I could bring myself to get rid of any books at all) and jokes are our common currency, and so amazingly it has survived

I was equally amazed at the warmth with which Twitter (at least those of us on Twitter of a certain age) greeted the sight of it. And how many could remember some of its more offbeat jokes after many many years. Such as this one which has lived with me ever since, in all its unresolved weirdness.

What is the difference between a duck? One of its legs is both the same

I loved this joke as a child and I love it now, but I also remember never being quite sure why it was funny, only that it was. And that in a family where we all had our ‘own’ jokes this one was mine. It has also struck me that (to the frustration of some who have read Hare House and wanted the ending tied up a little more neatly than I was willing to do) it might just be where I got the idea that some things are stronger if they’re left a little unresolved.

So perhaps it was a literary influence after all …


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