Cautionary Tales

James Proclaims (4)

As the parent of a small child, I’m not unfamiliar with a children’s story or two. My daughter has a voracious appetite for literature. I mean quite literally, as I’ll often find her nibbling on a book.

Although she does appear to be growing out of that phase and enjoying books for their content too.

And I like reading them to her.

To be honest, I’m increasingly becoming a fan of books that are aimed at younger people. They have a lot of advantages over the books I normally read.

For starters, there are significantly fewer words, which means that when I pick one up and start reading it, I generally do always finish. This, alas, is not always the case for the books that are aimed at someone of my age.

Also there are pictures. It’s so much easier and more fun to read a book with pictures in it. Why does that stop when you get older?

Mainly though, I like books aimed at little children, because they are, for the most part, hugely entertaining.

Some make me laugh out loud.

Check out the ‘Oi Frog’ series of books by Kes Gray and Jim Field and I guarantee you will laugh multiple times.

Other favourites (of mine, though my daughter generally likes them too) would have to include ‘Wonkey Donkey’, ‘There’s a Monster in your Book’ and ‘Superworm’.

It occurs to me, however, that some of the books that I read with my daughter might have a slightly irresponsible message in these corona-times.

So I’ve taken the liberty of updating some of the ‘classics’ in order to make them more compliant with a world of social-distancing and ‘self-isolation’.

We’re Not Going On A Bear Hunt

bear hunt

We’re not going on a bear hunt
We’re not going to catch a big one
What a beautiful day
We’re quite scared

Uh Uh! Government Advice!
Alarming, disarming government advice!
We can’t go over it
We can’t go under it
Oh no!
We’ll just have to stay in and self-isolate!

The Tiger Who Didn’t Come To Tea

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Once there was a little girl called Sophie, and she was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen.

Suddenly there was a ring at the door.

Sophie’s mummy said, “I wonder who that can be,

It can’t be the milkman because demands for that service have resulted in them refusing to accept new customers.

And it can’t be the boy from the grocer because you can’t book a home delivery slot for love nor money

And it can’t be Daddy because he isn’t a key-worker, so he’s already at home.

We’d better open the door and see.”

Sophie opened the door, and there was a big, furry, stripy tiger. The tiger said, “Excuse me, but I’m very hungry. Do you think I could have tea with you?”

Sophie’s mummy said, “I’m sorry, but due to the government’s policy on social-distancing, we can’t have anyone around for tea.”

The tiger nodded and said, “of course, I completely understand.”

And he left.

The Socially Responsible Gruffalo

gruffalo

A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good
But because the fox was adhering to advice on social-distancing, he didn’t interact with the mouse and instead returned promptly to his underground house.

And the same thing happened with the owl and the snake.
So the mouse didn’t meet anyone
Until he happened upon the Gruffalo

But the Gruffalo and the mouse also adhered to social-distancing etiquette
So they didn’t speak to each other.
And both also promptly returned to their homes
Once they’d had their daily allocation of exercise.

 

 

Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 4 – I Read A Book A Week (But Never Dostoyevsky…)

James Proclaims (4)

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Here we are then at part 4 of my miniseries on stuff I used to be able to claim I did, but now I don’t really do.

And this one is on reading.

Books that is.

Because I used to read a lot of them and now I don’t.

Although, contrary to the suggestion in the title of this post, I never used to read a book a week. That was a little nod to one of my favourite sit-coms, ‘The Office’ (original UK version, although I am very much a fan of the US version too).

The comment about Dostoyevsky is a nod to the same episode, although it is true that I’ve never read any Dostoyevsky.

Judge me not though, for I can point to a great many worthy authors that I have read, thus proving my intellect. For I have read (and in some cases enjoyed) works by Dickens, Hardy, multiple Brontes, Stendhal, Flaubert, and numerous other authors that appear in the ‘Classics’ section of your local bookshop.

But don’t be too impressed, I’ve also read everything Dan Brown ever wrote, so I’m clearly not averse to an ‘easy read’ either.

In fact, my parents used to joke that I’d read anything I could get my hands on, even a cereal box if there was nothing else available. And in truth I have read some pretty good cereal boxes in my time. The Frosties box of summer 1987 stands out as a particularly good one, although the Coco Pops of autumn 1991 would run it close.

I jest of course, for while these days, as all sensible consumers should, I read the ingredients of cereal boxes to make sure that nothing contained therein is going to slowly kill me over time, I wouldn’t read a cereal box for entertainment purposes. Jars of Marmite on the other hand…

But I digress, for my parents made that observation about my reading habits (or one of them did and I’m not quite sure which of them to blame…) because as a child I did read a lot.

It might make me sound like quite a worthy child but I’m not sure that I was. It was the eighties and there wasn’t really much else to do. Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 4 – I Read A Book A Week (But Never Dostoyevsky…)

Badge Of Honour

James Proclaims (4)
A few weeks ago I got a letter from my local household recycling centre. I wasn’t expecting them to write to me. I’ve always had a very functional relationship with the place.

If I have stuff I want to get rid of, I drive there and hurl the offending items into one of the designated areas (‘miscellaneous junk mail’ into the ‘Paper and Card’ section, ‘grass cuttings’ into the ‘Garden Waste’ section, ‘broken kettle’ into the ‘Small Appliances’ section etc. – it’s all very clearly marked out and every unwanted article can be united with other uncherished and malfunctioning items of a similar ilk).

I am a big fan of the service provided by my local recycling centre. I have more than my fair share of accumulated junk to dispose of and three years after moving into our current abode, Mrs Proclaims and I are still coming across various boxes and bags containing items that we’d both long forgotten. Indeed, we are often perplexed to discover things that we were certain we’d already thrown out. Continue reading Badge Of Honour

R Is For Reading

James Proclaims (4)

cooltext178532079403590

R is for Reading and also for reading.

When it is written with a capital ‘R’and pronounced as ‘redding’ it’s a town in Berkshire and the place where I live.

When it’s written with a lower case ‘r’ (or uppercase if it’s at the beginning of a sentence) and pronounced ‘reeding’ then it’s the act of decoding the written word. Continue reading R Is For Reading

Reading in Reading

James Proclaims (4)

penguin-835742_1280

I’m writing this from inside a library. Not just any library but an actual university library. Where people come to study.

In fact it’s the main library of the University of Reading. The University of Reading is so-called because it is in the town of Reading in Berkshire, England, rather than because it is a high level academic institution dedicated to the cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning.

You can study things other than reading at Reading although it is possibly ironic that the first assignment for my MA was on the topic of dyslexia.

I have come to study something else today.

I haven’t studied in a library for years. I’m not entirely sure how to do it. Continue reading Reading in Reading