Thursday 17 December 2009

Bloody Mary

I was hit with a real sense of nostalgia today when a few of the boys in Year 5 (9-10 year olds) told me of their fab new game.

‘It’s called Bloody Mary,’ one boy said. ‘We do it in the toilets. You stand in front of the mirror, then turn three times and say “Bloody Mary,” for each turn. If you do it right, you see Bloody Mary in the mirror and get scratches right down your back.’

‘Have any of you done it?’

One replied, ‘Yeah! I did.’

‘Did it work?’

He checked his mates’ faces before answering. ‘Not yet.’

The reason for my nostalgia was twofold. When I was at school we had a game just like this. We told each other that if we said the Lord’s Prayer backwards, while looking in a mirror, we’d see the face of the devil. It was a kind of a rite of passage. Most of us of were too scared to do it. Those who did... well, we never knew whether to believe what they said they saw, but the plain fact that they had done it made them somehow different. Not just a little bit braver, but wiser. They’d gone through something and come out the other side. And it felt like they had the upper hand.

Twenty six years later, I wrote that all down. That seed of an idea, the idea that boys need to face their own fears to gain maturity, grew into my very first novel: CLASH.

So if people ever ask where ideas come from, in my case, it’s the daft things I did - or was too scared to do - as a kid.

Colin Mulhern

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