Notes From The UK (Part 2)

Here’s a story I like to tell from the trip: I visited one prep school that was the fanciest school I have ever seen in my life. It was a castle. Not figuratively. Literally. It was built for a 15th-century Earl. (The picture above is not a stock photo. I took it before my talk.) So anyway…

I did my normal talk. And after my talk, I always ask if anyone has questions and I usually chat to kids for about 15-20 minutes about stuff. This is actually my favorite part because it lets me see the world from their perspective.

But this time I finished and said “Any questions?” And there was total silence. Nothing. Nada. Not one question. I’d never experience that, so I sort of asked “Ummm…how come?”

And one of the kids told me, “Well, we’ve got golfing after this so we want to get going.”

Now then. I immediately started telling this story to my friends just to illustrate how wildly preppy this prep school was. And people would laugh and marvel at how the other half live.

But one thing I didn’t mention (because you never mess with a good anecdote) is that the kids were really nice. Really nice. They didn’t have questions, but when I was signing books (before they hit the links), they surrounded me, wanting to chat on a personal level. When I told them I was from San Francisco, one boy from Mexico was really eager to tell me about the times he’s visited San Francisco with his family. They all wanted to make a connection.

And that’s the larger picture. No matter what school I’ve been to the kids have been uniformly awesome. Some have been excited to see me. Some haven’t. Some have laughed at my corny jokes. Some haven’t. Some are happy to be out of the class. Some are miserable to just be in school at all.

But when the talk is done, and they’re filing out of the gym/lecture room/theater, a little group of students always stays behind to talk to me. Because they want to ask more questions or tell me their own ideas for books or ask how to they can be a writer too.

No matter what school or circumstance they’re from (and I didn’t just visit fancy prep schools, I went to some schools where the headmaster was painstakingly counting out milk money to make sure every student was covered), kids want to expand their horizons as far as they can imagine. Because at that age, their horizons are limitless. And I’m glad I could help them on their journey.