The bus driver gives me a quizzical look. She is desperately trying, I can tell, to think who I remind her of, in my black and red striped jumper. As a bus driver, I do understand, you can’t afford to make assumptions
about your passengers in case you are (i) wrong or (ii) offend. Not that I would have been offended, not being too proud to accept that there are times when I might be seen to be going a little Over The Top. This morning is one of those occasions.
As I explained yesterday, today is the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge, which this year is on the theme of Mischief Makers, in celebration of the 80th anniversary
of The Beano, a comic much loved by many would-be trouble-makers seeking to emulate the Ace Mischief-Maker, Dennis. Formerly known as The Menace, but not any more in our politically-correct times.
If you happened to read yesterday’s Daily Blog (don’t worry if you didn’t, I won’t hold it against you) then you will remember that I was unsure whether or not to wear a curly black wig to add to my
overall Dennis Impression. I took a selfie of myself wearing my red and black striped top and curly wig to send to my close family to gather their opinions. If I thought that by doing this they might dissuade me, then I should have known better. The Middle
of the Darling Daughters, in particular, piled on the pressure by telling me that the Trio of Rampaging Rascals would be so proud of me if I did wear the wig.
still hadn’t made up my mind when it was time to catch the bus into town - so I decided to take the wig with me in a carrier bag so that I could sum up the situation when I reached the library and act accordingly. Had I produced the wig along with my
bus pass, the bus driver would have had her unspoken questions answered but I wasn’t that brave.
Once inside the library, however, it was a different matter.
Several members of staff were dressed up - there was a Bananaman, a rather fetching Minnie the Minx and another Dennis but without the hair. I therefore threw caution to the winds and embraced my Inner Dennis, half hoping that, should anybody I knew visit
the library that day, they wouldn’t recognise me.
Having said that it is one of the good things about reaching A Great Age, I have found - you don’t
mind so much if people think you are a Mad Old Bat. It is about the only thing I have in common with the Leader of the Free World, aka The Donald, though he takes it to far greater heights - and depths - than I.
My two fellow volunteers on the Mischief Makers Desk remember me from the days when they were littl’uns taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge themselves. I must have been, well, memorable
even in those days though I can’t think why that might have been. I mean I have never worn a black, curly wig before... Now they are old enough to volunteer to help other youngsters through the Challenge and I think that is a great credit to them.
It is one of the pleasures of volunteering with the SRC for me - chatting with my fellow volunteers, the majority of them young enough to be my grandchildren. Today we have
some excellent discussions, in between registering children for the Challenge, about our attitude to snakes and spiders, the new grading system for this year’s GCSEs, and various approaches to parenting. This latter debate was provoked by the appearance
of one youngster at our desk who had been sent along to the library to register alone, without an accompanying parent. When was a child old enough to be thus dispatched by his or her parent? Because registration is now on-line, we had to ask the girl concerned
if she could contact her Dad and ask him to meet her at the library. “He’s not too good at technology...” she said, doubtfully, when we explained why we needed her father’s input.
Not many of the children I registered this morning said they read The Beano so I introduced them to the main characters (Gnasher the dog was everyone’s favourite) and asked them if they thought I looked like Dennis.
Children are unfailingly honest but at the same time hate to disappoint; one after another they gazed at me through screwed up eyes and replied kindly: “A little bit...”
No such problems with the parents - especially the Dads. “Hiya, Dennis!” they greeted me, cheerily, for all the world as if I were an old, long-lost pal.
I am pleased to report back to my Trio of Rampaging Rascals that I wore my wig with pride...