26 Winters is Open

26WintersChocolatesI wrote a while ago about being asked to be part of the 26 Winters exhibition, which is being held this autumn and winter at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh.

The exhibition itself now open, with the online advent calendar revealing our objects from the collection from the 1 December onwards. My ‘object’ was in fact several – sugary, Christmassy treats from times past (indeed, some with white bloom, as my visit to the Museum over the summer to visit my objects revealed).

My blog about writing my sestude (a work of 62 words) is on the Museum’s website, and here:

I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. So when I found about my objects – Christmas chocolates and other sugary treats – my first reaction was to laugh out loud.

I followed that first reaction in trying to come up with my idea. I thought of over-indulgence and consumption. Eating too much, expressing love and gratitude through sugar.

Bah humbug.

Then I started to think about where all the ingredients for Christmas treats travel from. The Three Kings, and their journey to Bethlehem, bearing rich gifts from the east. That line from T S Eliot’s ‘The Journey of the Magi’ about the ‘silken girls bringing sherbet’. The long and sometimes very unpleasant colonial history of sugar and cocoa, the pathways of the goods, and the slaves.

Again, not terribly cheery.

So one light summer evening, I put on some Christmas music, and remembered lines from a different poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’:

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.

Straightaway, a different vision: a frothy, chocolatey Strictly Come Dancing. The sweets swirling merrily across the dance floor, light-hearted and fun.

But still, a little South American darkness crept in…

26 Winters

musuem-of-childhoodI’ve just heard that I’m going to be involved in an exciting project, which will take me both from summer into winter, and adulthood into childhood.

The writers’ collective 26 recently put out a call for contributors to a project in collaboration with Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood. 26 writers will each be allocated an object from the Museum’s collections, and asked to write a ‘sestude’ about it – a work consisting of 62 words. The objects – and our sestudes – will then be revealed in an online advent calendar in the lead-up to Christmas. This, alongside an exhibition in the museum, will raise money for the charity It’s Good 2 Give.

I’m already wondering about my object: will it be skittles? A hula hoop? Something more seasonal – a pair of ice skates?

And are hyphenated words counted as one word or two? By my reckoning, this blog is already nearly 150 words long, so I’m hoping a bit of hyphenation might help me sneak in an extra word or two. I expect our editors will be very strict, though, and something unpleasant* from the School Days section of the Museum will be used on me if I cheat.

You can follow what we’re getting up to on Twitter using the #26Winters hashtag.

*Apparently they have a cane and leather tawses.