Coming up with ideas isn't the hard part, it's making them work - Ian McMillan

At this time of lockdown when lots of my work has, as they say, fallen off a cliff, I decided to ransack my memory and see if any of the writing-based money-making schemes I’ve come up with over the years might be revived to help me earn a bob or two.

Ian McMillan is finding solace in humour in these uncertain times.

Having trawled them from my mind’s depths and examined them in detail, I can safely say that I won’t be buying the island next to Richard Branson’s just yet.

The first idea, from sometime in the mid-1980s, was The Edible Line of Poetry. The idea came to me when I was running a writing workshop in a library and somebody had baked some scones for us to chomp on in the tea break. They were all laid out in a row along a table and suddenly I thought that you could write a word on each of ten scones so that you made a line of poetry.

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To use a well-known example, you could write ‘‘I wandered lonely as a cloud that walked on high’’ in icing on top of the scones, a word at a time, and then as you ate them the line would, to use a literary term, get redrafted.

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As ever with this kind of idea the devil is in the detail and try as I might I couldn’t come up with a line that worked. I tried The Tastier The Scone The Tastier Tasty Taste, which, if you ate one scone at a time, went through Tastier The Scone The Tastier Tasty via The Scone The Tastier, ending up at Scone The. Back to the drawing board! Mind you, I still think it’s a good idea if I could only think of a good line. Any suggestions? We can go halves on that island.

There were so many other ideas in those days; me and my mate John Turner came up with a wheeze we called The Poetry Waiters where people could order a poem with their meal in a restaurant. We even had letterheads done, but there were no takers.

I was going to make a living by entering slogan competitions because I figured that, as a writer, I was good with words and I’d be able to come up with enough winning lines to keep me in comfort for the rest of my life. I subscribed to a newsletter that kept me informed of the closing dates and the rules of dozens of these competitions each month and I got to work. I entered hundreds of them and I won nothing.

No, I tell a lie: I won 50 Superman Lunch bags once and I gave them to the kids to take their sandwiches to school in.

I reckon I’ll revive The Poetry Waiters. Oh, I can’t: all the restaurants are shut!

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