Much of the summer of 2013 was spent working on the prospectus for Haileybury (or more properly Haileybury Imperial and Service College), a leading co-ed private school in Hertfordshire. Its alumni include former Prime Minister Clement Atlee, author Rudyard Kipling, and more recently, Batman film director Christopher Nolan.

We were drafted in by design company hat-trick to provide words around the theme of a 'day in the life' of the college, quite a radical approach for an institution of this kind. In reality, the times of the day became pegs on which to hang different aspects of the school, from its emphasis on 'co-curricular' activities, to the benefits of boarding, to its impressive facilities. Underlying all this was the idea of promoting a broad, joined-up education, which offered more than just academic excellence.

To the letter... publicity poster for the fictitious 'Dig It Festival', calligraphy by Ann Bowen
It’s been a while since I took part in a collaborative project with 26, the writer’s group I co-founded with seven others ten years ago. ‘26 Words’, was a kind of reprise of ‘26 Posters’, one of our very first efforts, which randomly paired writers with designers, gave them a letter of the alphabet and asked them to go off and produce a poster together. Back then I got editorial design legend Derek Birdsall and the letter I. Both wonderful.

This time round 26 writers were paired with 26 lettering artists from the crafts-based lettering association Letter Exchange. I was teamed with the hugely talented calligrapher Ann Bowen and given the letter D, but there was also a twist this time. In a slightly shamanistic ceremony held in the basement of the Betsy Trotwood pub in Clerkenwell, we were asked to stick a knife into a dictionary to pick out a word starting with our given letter. In our case, the tip of knife pointed to ‘dig’.