Welcome to the Alphabetical World of Nigel Tetley
I am in love with the English language. I love everything about it. I love its grammatical simplicity, its rhythm, its effortless fluidity, the contours of its topography, its rich palette of colours, the way it actually feels in the mouth when you’re speaking it. I even love its alphabet. This love affair started when I was a child.
My earliest memory is that of writing out each of the twenty-six letters, over and over again, and each time being mesmerised at how the shape of each one exactly matched the sound that it made. That perfect correspondence is one that still bewitches me to this day. How is it that each letter looks like its sound? (If you haven’t ever noticed this before, go back and have a fresh look. You’re in for the shock of your life.)
Thanks to my genius mother, I was able to read by the time I was three. The discovery that you could actually combine these mysterious letters together to form words was magical to me. From that point onwards, my appetite was insatiable. I enjoyed the struggle of reading new stories. I enjoyed being read to. I enjoyed coming across new words so that I could unpack them, like perfectly wrapped presents. I remember being fascinated by newspapers simply because they were nothing but gigantic sheets of paper completely covered with words. What more could one ever want? I even enjoyed watching other people read them. (Weird, eh?) Looking back now, I realise that I have never enjoyed reading as much as I did then - which is why, I think, that I now write predominantly for that particular age group. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that what I am actually trying to do whenever I put pen to paper is to replicate the exhilaration of that golden time of discovery. How successfully I have done so is now for others to judge.