The little lad who has just arrived at the Record Breakers desk in our local library settles himself comfortably in the chair opposite me and produces a type-written piece of paper bearing the details of the three books
he has read so far for the Summer Reading Challenge. Apparently his grandmother wrote it out for him.
I sometimes wonder if I have this grandparent-business wrong. Should I turn myself into a Tiger Grandmother
and ensure that my Truly Tremendous Ten always get everything right? It would mean changing the habits of a lifetime - my Foursome will remember (possibly with regret) that I wasn't the type of mother who corrected their homework before they handed it in.
And, before you say anything, it wasn't laziness, honestly it wasn't; just a general feeling that they needed to make their own mistakes and, hopefully, learn from them. I was nevertheless always around to offer drinks, slices of toast and whatever else might
help them make it through the Homework Hours.
One of the stories the little lad reads me from his crib sheet is the tale of Romulus and Remus. What does he think it would be like, I ask him, being brought
up by wolves? What would he eat, for example? He looks at me pityingly. The same as now, he tells me. He must have seen my puzzled expression because he explains that wolves are meat eaters. Lamb would almost certainly be on the menu most nights. Though probably
not roasted with rosemary and served with mint sauce. Not unless they were extremely refined wolves..
Another lad regales me with the adventures of Gulliver in Lilliput, describing with a certain relish the
events when Our Hero extinguished a burning fire (thereby saving a castle from ruin) - by weeing on it. No rewards for guessing what was my young reader's favourite part of the story.
Yet another lad has borrowed
and read a book on The Planets. He can't wait to tell me the facts he has learnt - like, did you know that the Earth could fit into Jupiter over 1300 times over? Whereas only 764 Earths could fit into Saturn. Read and learn, that's what the Summer Reading
Challenge is all about and, because I do like the Daily Blog to come over all educational every so often, I am happy to pass these interesting statistics on to you. Just in case they come in useful one day. Or even if they don't.
Poppy, my fellow volunteer on the desk today, has signed up for four hours today. That's a long time, I say, admiringly. She has already totted up thirteen hours, without today's marathon session - next week she and her friend will
be putting in a whole day, from 9 till 5. If she carries on this way, I tell her, she may be Top Volunteer, come the celebration event at the end of September. Me? I'll be happy if I surpass last year's total of 16 hours. I shall be sure to let you know, successful
Well over 700 children have registered for the Challenge at our library so far and we are still busily signing up new recruits. Will we make it to the Magic Thousand, I wonder? That would make
us record breakers in our own right which would be Quite Amazingly Appropriate.
At 12 o'clock, I bid Poppy farewell and head off to the other end of town to meet Mr B, who has been at the chiropodist. We decide
to have lunch out while we are about it then trot along to Timpson's so Mr B can have his photo taken for an application form we are filling out. Mr Timpson (well, it probably isn't him, in the flesh, but I am entitled to a little poetic licence in the interests
of this blog) says Mr B will need to take his specs off and gaze solemnly into the camera without the merest hint of a grin if the resultant photos are to be deemed acceptable to grace a passport. I say we need photos that look more like The Real Thing. We
have to find someone who has known Mr B for at least two years and will be willing to sign a declaration that the picture is a True Likeness. Something that can never be said for a passport photo in my opinion. Mr Timpson gives a Be-It-On-Your-Own-Head shrug
and obeys our instructions.
It's all about appearances, don't you think? One day Gulliver appeared enormous to the Lilliputians, another day it was his turn to feel insignificant alongside the Brobdingnagians.
Then again, from what I remember of the pictures I have seen of the planets, I can't imagine over 1300 Earths fitting inside Jupiter. Appearances can, indeed, be deceptive. Moreover while I am prepared to accept that Mother Wolf served up tasty meals of lamb,
I am quite sure Romulus and Remus never sampled anything as delicious as the Barnsley chops Mr B and I enjoyed for dinner tonight.
There is no arguing, however, that Mr B's photograph is a True Likeness of
the Man Himself. In this case, at least, with thanks to Mr Timpson, Appearances Do Not Lie.