A ‘Freewrite’ is a writing exercise designed to see what the subconscious throws up: to write freely without editing, planning etc. There are many variations. I use this one when I lead writing workshops, I ask participants to give 10 random words (which we add in roughly one-minute intervals) and also a half-sentence to begin with. Words: Fire, platypus, death, mountain, beans, magic, unicorn, rocket, fairy, sleep, pitch.

The football pitch was wet. The boys and I sat on the coach, our heads resting against the cool window pan longing for the world outside. It wasn't just wet, it was waterlogged, each blade of grass drowning in its watery grave, its thirst every quenched. Some prayed for fire, that a furnace would descende and dry up the ground for the game to begin. The goal keeper, from the back of the bus explained how a platypus would make a great goalie given the weather conditions and coach explained this was the death of masculinity; in his day, they played through rain storms, they hiked mountains to find flat turf closer to the gods and there, they defied the laws of humanity and gravity. The striker wondered out loud if magic beans would grow to mountain tops, if destiny was built into the language of football at all and the mascot, dressed as a unicorn explained he was made of the stuff, he could make crowds cheer, dance to his every whim, he was magic itself. The boy jeered and dared him to dance the pitch dry with his magic and he rocketed out of the coach to the pitch and danced and danced.

Later, the boys claimed when the skies opened up and lightning struck the unicorn mascot, it threw him up in the air and his white suit burst into flames and fire like a fairy in flight and the others who were asleep woke up and shook their heads in disbelief.