The very last youngster to arrive at the Summer Reading Challenge before I clock off at 5 p.m. has a most appropriate story to relate.
It's about the residents of a town
called Snottington (cue many giggles) who are all suffering from a particularly nasty cold. This is appropriate because I am pretty sure I, too, have a cold coming on. I keep sneezing, my nose is running, my head is aching - I would fit in beautifully among
the Worthy Souls of Snottington.
Help appears to be at hand when the hero of the story sets off to visit his friend, who just happens to be a dragon, to obtain a spell for warding off colds. It sounds a bit
like my annual flu jab - though I don't share this with the tot sitting opposite me at the a Record Breakers Desk. I doubt it would add anything to her understanding of the story which is, I must say, excellent.
Although the dragon, like my GP, was quite happy to dispense the spell (flu jab) it did not come with cast iron guarantees. Again, the resemblance to the flu jab is quite uncanny. The effectiveness of the spell, in any case, remains in doubt as it was
lost somewhere between the dragon's den and the town of Snottington. The exact circumstances of the loss are clouded in mystery as my little story-teller glosses over this bit of the tale. This is not necessarily a bad thing when there is a long queue of children,
clutching their latest "reads" and rehearsing with their parents what they are going to tell us scary people in the red tee-shirts. "So what happened at the very end of the book?" we ask, artlessly, as the assiduous reader in front of us takes us through chapters
1 to 5 virtually verbatim.
Anyway, back to the story - where did I leave off? Oh, yes, the lost spell. You might think that the folks of Snottington are destined to suffer for ever, quite unable to live Happily
Ever After as in all the best stories. But, no, someone comes up with a a Grand Wheeze (if you'll excuse the pun) and everyone in the town is issued with (i) a pair of woolly socks; (ii) a warm blanket; and (iii) a bowl of hot, heartening soup. Old fashioned
remedies hold the answer to all Snottington's woes.
I am thinking that, when I get home, I will try out the Sock-Blanket-Soup remedy for myself. After all the alternative - a dragon's spell - will involve
me in first finding a dragon. It is possible that I could enlist the help of my Welsh Boys who do have the advantage of living in Dragon's Country.
If I need anything to stop me feeling sorry for myself, it's
the unfolding tragedy which is the aftermath of the horrendous Shoreham Airshow crash on Saturday. Nobody who lives in this area can fail to be stricken by the news of those who have died and the plight of those families who have lost loved ones. Almost all
of us who live round here will have travelled many times along the A27, the road where the Hawker Hunter aircraft crashed - and will be thinking "it could have been us." Only three of those killed have been named so far - it is all too horribly possible, everyone
is thinking, that others may be known to us.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters and her family had planned a day out at the Air show on Sunday. I'd even suggested, looking at the weather forecast, that the
Saturday might be a better day for an air show. Thank goodness they had other ideas.
A friend and former colleague of mine is the Police Superintendent who, strain etched on her face, fronted the first press
conference on the tragedy. On the radio this morning the photographer who captured the picture which appears on front pages everywhere, recounted his eye-witness account, his voice raw with emotion. I admired the way presenter Neil Pringle departed from his
role of dispassionate reporter to suggest, gently, that perhaps he should seek some professional advice to help him cope.
Such dreadful events hit home. It seems as if the whole area is in shock and
thinking of those who died and those who will spend the rest of their lives without them.
No magic spell is going to ease that amount of pain.