I’m just back from a quick emergency run to the supermarket for nappies (and the ingredients to make Nigella’s cranberry studded mincemeat and some fresh food, because we’ve been kind of missing that around here recently), it was cold (I walk everywhere as I don’t drive) but to paraphrase Neil Gaiman badly, ‘when it’s very cold you start to look forward to 0C as being positively balmy’. He didn’t say that exactly, but I got the gist of it I think, of course it’s not as cold here in London as it is where ever Neil Gaiman lives over in the States, but the temperatures have been extreme (for London) recently, so to go out, at night, even with snow still on the ground and not feel ice bitten to the core, is rather nice. So I have a new found appreciation for 0C.
The Christmas holidays have started here, yesterday me and the kids went shopping, it was meant to be a quick trip, just the bank to pay in a cheque, McDs and the supermarket (where I forgot the nappies, hence the trip out tonight) but I forgot after just a term of being able to go out shopping whenever I want to (in school hours) and to be able to put on my coat, pick up my bag and just go and even better, if I want to, be back within an hour, that trying to get my kids to go shopping is like extracting teeth and trying to get my kids to go home again is even worse. So we went to the bank, went to McDs, went to see the Christmas bears (that move and sing) and then for the first ever Christmas Girl Lacer’s reading was good enough to be able to read the sign that is there every year with the Christmas bears ‘Visit Santa on the Third Floor’ (I had, ahem, neglected to tell the kids about this opportunity in previous years as they always visit Santa at the school fair and I think one visit to Santa a year is enough) but now Girl Lacer could read the sign, of course she wanted to go, so we went, with me in Super Scrooge mode “I’m not paying for a present, you can just go and say hello and if there’s a queue, we’re not queuing”. We get to the third floor, Santa’s domain is set down a corridor, that looks remarkably free of queue, so we enter through the doorway, turn a corner and of course, there’s the long queue, but we queue up anyway (because I’m soft really and not that Scrooge like) and we queue for a long time. Once we got to see Santa it was quite good, the school certainly doesn’t have animatronic deer (there is only so much you can do with Swedish tank camouflage netting, as good as it is, which is what the school uses for its grotto). Boy Lacer reiterated that he wanted (and he was quite specific about the toy bit as opposed to a real one) a toy Gruffalo, I think Santa’s organised enough for that one.
So after all that today was a pyjama day and I’ve been hand-quilting a quilt for Boy Lacer, so if I have to do running stitch in green embroidery thread around another patchwork square again I will scream, oh dear I have four more squares to do. I should however finish it tonight and good daylight permitting be able to blog about it tomorrow. It’s a Christmas present from me (as opposed to Santa) to Boy Lacer (Boy Lacer was banned from the bedroom whilst I was quilting, not that that particularly bothered him as he’s been glued to Rollercoaster Tycoon all day), but I can blog about it as Boy Lacer doesn’t read this blog. He is however quite a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s blog, as he likes Neil Gaiman’s pet pictures, he was looking at pictures of Neil Gaiman’s cats the other day and pointed to one and I explained (from what I had just read) that the particular cat Boy Lacer was looking at was a very grumpy cat, to which Boy Lacer leapt straight up and ran to his collection of books, as Boy Lacer also has a book about a grumpy cat. I think Boy Lacer thinks there is an answer to every problem you can think of, in a book, somewhere and he may well be right, in the case of Boy Lacer’s book about a grumpy cat, the grumpy cat is followed around by a pesky kitten who he then has to rescue and they become friends and the grumpy cat isn’t so grumpy any more. Boy Lacer then looked from book back to the computer screen and the picture of Neil Gaiman’s grumpy cat and mumbled something about the grumpy cat on the computer needed to go and find a kitten. Which leads me to the final thing I’m going to ramble on about tonight and it was actually something retweeted by Neil Gaiman today*, you see I am pretty sure Boy Lacer’s grumpy cat book was a Booktrust book, it’s one of both kids’ favourite stories and even if I’m wrong and the grumpy cat book wasn’t a Booktrust book (although I am 95% sure it was), the kids have a number of other Booktrust books I know for sure were Booktrust books, in particular ‘You Choose’ and ‘Shark in a Park’ that they adore just as much. You Choose, I have to admit, I hate that book because I’ve had to read it so often but it has the fairly unique format of asking the child on each page questions like ‘what house would you live in?’ or ‘what would you eat?’ and the reader gets to chose from a page crammed full of Nick Sharratt illustrations and Boy Lacer and Girl Lacer love it and from the number of well worn copies I’ve seen grasped eagerly in the mitts of other people’s children, any small child loves that book. Just as I defy any small child not to love another Nick Sharratt illustrated book, the Shark in a Park, I’d swear both my kids could recite that book off my heart and it was such a popular book the children even performed it at nursery when Boy Lacer was there, complete with hand painted scenery to match the book, painted by one of the mums. So there’s an example of two, very probably three well loved books, books loved not just by my children but I think any children who get’s their hands on them and all thanks to Booktrust for distributing them to children for free. So I was very sad to see the retweet from Neil Gaiman this morning from Booktrust saying that the Government had cut funding to Booktrust by 100% in England, once again it feels like nothing is safe or sacred. Ok, with my kids they drown in books to be honest, they have literal book avalanches in their room, so the Booktrust Bookstart scheme is not particularly aimed at them (and they’re now both too old for it anyway). We are not made of money (far from it), but I had a very bookish childhood and it was instinctive for me to prioritise books for my children but what about all the children where the Booktrust books were very possibly some of the very few books they were getting that they could call their own (as opposed to books from schools and libraries and hey the government is closing down libraries to), what about them? Fair enough, I realise money is tight but instead of cutting all the money just like that, what about a reduction so that Booktrust are still able to target the families that really need those books? Books are, I’m not even sure I can put down in words how important books are, specially in the hands of small children that are just getting introduced to the wonderful, useful, mind expanding world that is books, books are just vital. It may start with how to make a grumpy cat less grumpy but it’s a journey that once started and started well, goes on and on and on and thanks to the government’s actions, that may just be for some children a journey that is cut short (and then how much money is the government going to have to spend later trying to boost attainment in the now older child? It doesn’t make sense, like a lot of what the government does).
*Disclaimer – I do not cyberstalk Neil Gaiman.