Your character’s shopping list


This morning I dropped by my local corner shop and bought: a tin of dog food, two first class stamps and a chicken samosa.

The man serving me smiled. ‘Peckish?’ he asked. I hope he was referring to the samosa.

Shopping lists, shopping receipts… the things we mean to buy and the things we end up buying are hugely suggestive. Who doesn’t cast their eye over someone else’s scribbled reminders for ‘carpet stain remover’ and ‘bananas – very ripe’ or a recent favourite, ‘eggs, bathroom unblocker, Pims’, dropped on the zebra crossing in the car park at the Winchester branch of Sainsburys?

It puts me in mind of a wonderful poem written by a writing-group friend recently. If I say it was, essentially, a shopping list, I am doing a disservice to its playfulness, its cadences and rhythms.

I am always on the look-out for interesting writing exercises to inspire attendees who visit the Festival’s Writing Room on Saturday 18th June. So, this year, come and find a shopping list, or a receipt, and create a character based on what you imagine they are doing and thinking as they chew their pencil or wander along the aisles. All the lists and receipts will be ‘found’ and genuine – nothing made up. So if you happen to come across an interesting list or find yourself buying some intriguing items and saving the itemised receipt, do send them to me at Winchester Writers’ Festival, Masters Lodge, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR.

Who knows what a fellow writer’s imagination will make of it!

This year the Writers’ Room will be set up in St Edburga room 303. If you are attending the Festival on Saturday 18th June, do drop by for a quiet place to write or have a go at one of the writing prompts you’ll find there.

Judith Heneghan