Yikes. 62 words exactly, inspired by a Roald Dahl classic. No pressure. But copywriter Julian Abel seems unflustered. Old women in gloves seem more of a concern. But he’s over that now. Surely. Anyway, he agreed to answer our questions…
What object are you writing about and what were your first thoughts when we told you?
The Witches’ by Roald Dahl. My first thoughts were of being affected by the book as a boy. We’d moved to London after living in New York for a few years. I used to take the old Routemaster 82 bus to school every day and remember feeling particularly paranoid and frightened of old women. Especially those with gloves and facial hair.
What lost object from your own childhood would you like to own again, and why?
I got a sky blue mountain bike for my 13th birthday. Leaving it outside Our Price record store one day, a homeless guy mumbled, “Our Price, more like their F**@! price!”. As I walked in a kid swiped my bike. I chased him screaming “stop him”, but he careened around the corner and was gone. I was inconsolable for a week.
Hop into my time machine and it will take you back to one specific hour of your childhood – where and when do you want to go, and why?
I loved baseball when I lived in New York and saw some Yankee games with my conservative English father, in his Burgundy corduroys and knitted sweater. After a couple of games I forced him into jeans and a Yankee hat to blend in. I loved the atmosphere, the cheering, the hot dogs, and most of all spending time with my dad. It’s the happiest I remember being as a child.
Can you surprise me with one unusual fact about your childhood?
By the age of ten I had moved from Paris, Toronto to New York – with about 13 schools dotted in between. My girlfriend calls me a Mongrel. Although I prefer the description a Belgian waiter once used – minestrone soup.
What’s the earliest thing you can remember writing?
A letter to my parents from summer camp pleading to come home. It went along the lines of “the bed is hard, the cabin is dark and the meat is fatty.” My older brother also wrote a letter. Although his sounded more like a B&B review on Trip Advisor.