A Ministry of Stories? Hidden behind the facade of a Monster Supplies shop? It sounds like something out of JK Rowling crossed with Roald Dahl, but it’s actually true – there is now a Ministry of Stories in London and several more across the Atlantic, and they sound like the most magical places.
It all started with inspirational American author Dave Eggers, who wanted to encourage children to write. He and his team began hosting writing workshops and mentoring programmes in an old shop, but the condition of the lease meant they had to sell something. In a stroke of genius they decided to sell Pirate Supplies. Soon there were more of these surreal places cropping up in America, getting children involved in being creative, and this inspired UK author Nick Hornby to bring the idea to London in the form of the Ministry of Stories.
So what’s our own Ministry of Stories like? Well, you can visit the website at www.ministryofstories.org to find out more about it. The website is great; it has an official, government feel about it combined with a sense of wacky adventure. They are just starting up so need volunteers and donations (items as well as cash – see the list on the site). The shop part sells amazing stuff children will love like pots of ‘human snot’ and jars of Mortal Terror.
Could this be the start of a whole range of surreal outlets concealing creative enterprises? I’m looking forward to seeing a Pick ‘n’ Mix Plot Store with a secret attic for collaborative writers, and a Shop of Lost Memories fronting a photography exhibition. Or how about a Weather Supermarket where you can fill your trolley with sunshine for your holiday before going on to study the science of the real thing in a backroom filled with sand and deckchairs?
Congratulations to everyone at the Ministry on a marvellous endeavour. And to all those children who visit and benefit from the workshops and mentoring – I envy you.