This week I heard hundreds of kids from primary schools in Hackney singing together at the borough's annual youth music festival. It so happens that this year one of the songs chosen months ago was Michael Jackson's ABC. Whatever you think of the strange, sad, ruined boy-man that MJ became it was incredibly moving to listen to these beautiful children and remember the bouncing child star of the Jackson 5.
In the middle of the song all the children started laughing - that's because one of the amazingly talented conductors leapt off the podium to do a moonwalk, then tripped up as she jumped back on...and managed to recover in time to cue the next section of the song.
Hackney's where my son goes to school - he was one of the singers - and he's had a great week thanks to the people who run the borough's schools . First he was picked to represent his school at the Personal Best competition, which brought together pupils from schools all over Hackney to compete in a mini Olympic games, trying out Olympic and Paralympic events. Everyone came home in fab purple T shirts proclaiming Hackney as the Olympic borough for 2012. And then came this fantastic music event, which involves a tremendous amount of planning, co-ordinating and rehearsal.
I enjoyed the concert for another reason altogether. My main character - sometimes called Joe, sometimes Ty - grows up in Hackney and was a pupil at a RC school there. So I was scanning the room for a boy who could be the young Ty, aged about 9, five years before my book begins. I found one at last - not singing a note, looking around for his friend, pulling a plaster on and off his arm and completely ignoring the teacher who was trying to encourage him to join in. It was like recognising a long lost friend - although I felt a little guilty about what I'd imagined would be in store for him.
I tried to post a video with this, but it didn't want to upload...sorry!