A muse full of windows

Write 5, 50 or 500 words. See where any of these prompts take you!

In Play School, the long-running children’s TV series on the BBC (and in other parts of the English speaking world), viewers were asked: What window are we going to go through today? The choice was between the Arched window, the Round window or the Square window. Which window do you want to go through today? Why?

In one window there’s a boy sitting.
He’s been sent to bed—too early,
in his opinion, so he sits at the window—

from “Before the Storm” by Lousie Glück

What does the boy see? Why was he sent to bed? Who sees the boy?

The modern English word derives from the Norse vindauga – literally wind eye. The Old English was eagþyrl, (eye-hole). The common word in many other languages derives from the Latin fenestra, from the Greek phainein (to show) or from an unknown Etruscan word.

adapted from Etymology Online and The Etymology Nerd

What do the different names tell you about the way people think? What other names could be given to this architectural feature in a future community? In another part of the world? In the first house-building society to use them?

In 1965 The Hollies asked: Look through any window. What do you see?

Have the protagonist, or another character from your Work in Progress, look through a window. What do they see?

Girl at a window

What is happening in the picture? Why is she there? What does she see?

Image credits: Both pictures are my own. The featured image shows the shape of the windows used in Play School as I remember them from 50+ years ago.


  1. Great to receive these prompts by email, John. This got me thinking about a story with a voyeur. Thank you.

  2. The Play School windows gave me a bit of stream-of-conscious inspiration for my morning pages today. When I was young enough to appreciate Play School, the challenge to guess “Which window shall we go through today?” was almost always followed by the square or the round window. Why? According to the BBC’s trivia page for the programme, the choice of window was governed by the (rough) shape of the things the programme would be featuring that day.

    If it was balloons or wheels, a trip through the round window was in store. If boxes or houses, the square window. Only arched things like fountains and er…arches gave the cue for the arched window, leading to it appearing least of all.

    So this morning I tried to make a list of things that could have featured in the programme through the arched window:
    Churches, castles, aircraft hangers, viaducts, aqueducts, the Arc de Triomphe, the Marble Arch, the Golden Arches of the MacDonald franchise (OK probably not on the BBC), fountains, umbrellas, the arch in the rain made by a wiper on a windshield, rainbows, the arch of a bite taken out of a sandwich, the arch of a foot, the arch of a nose, the arch of an eyebrow, the zygomatic arch of a cheek bone, the arches and whorls of a fingerprint, seashells and snails’ shells, a surfing wave breaking, the curves, arches and scrolls of musical instruments (violins and guitars, tubas and trombones)…

    I’m sure there are more. And writing that list, I found myself thinking of related memories and stories. How about you?

  3. Arched things: my first thought was the stems of various flowers weighed over at their tips by rain – at present we have fuchsia everywhere -it seems to particularly like the Orkney climate, and we regularly have to cut it back when it taps at the upstairs loo window. This morning, weighed down with water droplets its elegant arched stems would make a wonderful introduction to your arched window, John.
    https://pensaroundtheworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/IMG_0761.jpg https://pensaroundtheworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/IMG_0761.jpg

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