As I watch the setting sun,
I see the shadows getting long.
Shadows are like memories of the day we’ve had.
Some shadows happy, some are sad:
The things we did, the people we met,
The ice cream van, the girl at the vet.
I’m very little and my shadow is short.
Yesterday is far away
And I don’t remember before today.
But when I climb on Grandad’s knee,
It’s funny how much more I see.
Grandad’s long shadow shows all sorts of things:
People and places,
And long ago faces.
He shows them to me in photos and books.
And in the pictures I’m surprised to see
Some of the children look like me!
Grandmas and aunties on a trip to the zoo,
And my grandad’s grandad, and his grandad too.
Grandad can tell me about long ago;
His friends, his toys and the things he did.
But Grandad is old and forgets things today,
Like his glasses and the things I say.
So I help him find the things he forgets
And he helps me meet the people he met.
He shares them in the stories he tells.
And when my shadow’s longer, I’ll share them as well.
You can hear this as well as my short story Poppy’s Day read by Falklands War veteran Simon Weston at www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/radio
You thought Prokofiev’s famous Dance of the Knights was all about Lord Sugar and his apprentices didn’t you? No? Men in ballet tights? Or maybe if you’re a Star Trek fan, Romulans in ballet tights?
Well before you start parading round singing “Romulans and Capulets” let me put you straight because no no no. As the lovely people at CBeebies Radio, a lot of children under the age of 6, Robert the Robot and I all know, this piece of music is, in fact, all about a grumpy marmalade cat and a teeny tiny mouse… in the rain.
Did you see the CBeebies Prom on television on August 25th? (still on BBC i-player) Those lovely people have an extra special treat for you to freely download at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/prom/radio/cbeebies-prom-extra Your little ones (and you) can do-si-do and round up imaginary cattle on imaginary horses, thanks to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra’s special recording of Aaron Copland’s Hoedown before settling down to hear their recording of Prokofiev’s famous march and Robert The Robot’s beautiful telling of a story it inspired me to write; a thrilling tale of life and death excitement in the back garden: “Past the pond, round the rockery; round the rockery, past the pond.”
Hear the cat “Slink and prow-wl,
And pounce and grow-wl…” in the music.
And can you hear the young mouse showing off?
“I’m so fast,
The orange thing
With clawy paws
Won’t catch me!…”
While overhead a blackbird cries in alarm “Run! Run! Run! Run!”
Goodness I had fun writing this story. I hope that you and your younglings have fun listening to it.
My short story Poppy’s Day is available as a free download from CBeebies Radio today and for the next seven days. Read by Falklands War veteran, Simon Weston, and beautifully produced by John Leagas, the story marks the centenary of the First World War and introduces little listeners to bravery and the importance of remembering.
I’ve just read the BBC press release, which says “is as powerful as it is poignant, a reminder about how important it is to remember not just the events of history, but the people.” So that’s me feeling smug for the rest of the day.
Follow the link above and if you don’t see a big picture of some poppies to click on. Click on ‘Get This Week’s Podcasts’ and then again on ‘Download Radio Podcast’ and then on ‘CBeebies:Poppy’s Day’.
Tabled by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash, in brief, these amendments will:
-Replace the complex restrictions on the hours children can perform at different ages, which were different for theatre and broadcast, with a simpler, single set of limits subject to age group (0-4, 5-10, 11-16).
-Repeal the limit on the nature of the daily performances that a child can be licensed to take part in.
-Remove the requirement for medical certificates. These could still be requested by the local authority if, for example, there was cause for concern about a child’s health, but would not be a requirement.
I liked it.
I liked having all my travel arrangements made for me.
I liked getting caught up in a motorcade with blue lights flashing and outriders. An excellent way to get through Istanbul traffic as long as the the driver pulls back when the outriders start getting twitchy.
I liked five star accommodation.
I liked my Turkish Bath.
But who takes calls on the loo? I hope I’m never that esteemed.
And if you’ll forgive the unfortunate juxtaposition here, I liked delivering my paper. If I wasn’t already full enough of my own self importance, they gave me two TWO interpreters: one into Turkish and the other Sign Language.
And published my speech in a REAL BOOK OF CLEVER THINGS BY CLEVER PEOPLE.
AND I very much liked getting caught up in the Deputy Prime Minister’s procession when we all went to dinner. Top Tip: secret service people are not very secret and they don’t make good dinner conversation.
Another top tip: if you mention politics to a politician, be prepared for facial expressions that can only be described as ‘inscrutable’. Try as I might, I couldn’t scrute the Deputy Prime Minister. I later learned I’d been mentioned in despatches and in a good way, but you’d never have scruted that at the time.
I’ve just remembered a brilliant thing someone said last Saturday. Rather fascinated by bees at the moment. As is everyone apparently. Hating to follow the herd, I can smugly say that I’m not interested in keeping them because it’s trendy – my big sister inherited a hive and I like being like her.
Whatever, the lovely ancient apiarist in Stroud market, advised me to wait a few years “When there will be lots of second hand equipment for sale as the herd move on. First it was chickens…” he said.
Then he said something else, and this is why I am writing before I forget it and fill my silly head with other chattery nonsense.
He said, “My primary school teacher taught me to keep bees.”
“Oh,” I gushed, picturing an Edwardian lady filling her country diary with bee keeping notes and thinking ‘how quaint, he must have grown up with Laurie Lee’.
The elderly bee keeper clearly knew I was filling my head with bucollocks (that’s rustic nonsense) so added, “She taught me to read.”
She taught me to read.
Once upon a seabed, there lived a sponge. Giving a home to lots of tiny creatures, it felt happy and important wafting in the waters. Then along came a net, which scooped it up and dumped it onto a boat with lots of wriggling fish. Some big hairy hands had picked it out. But instead of throwing it back into the sea, the big hairy hands left it on deck in the sun. The boat sailed home and now the sponge was miles away from its home, snatched from its family and friends, all dried out and very grumpy.
“I don’t deserve this! Why me?” thought the grumpy sponge. “Thing’s can’t possibly get worse.” He heard some sloshing and thought, “Ah good, at least I can soak up some water.” But it wasn’t water: he suddenly found himself dunked in vinegar! Vinegar! Somebody said it was wine but it tasted horrid. All the little houses where the tiny creatures had lived filled up and the sponge felt horribly tingly, like being stung by a thousand sea anemones, which he was once, when he’d made a rude remark about their tentacles.
“I don’t deserve this! Why me?” hiccupped the grumpy sponge. “Things can’t possibly get worse.” But then they stuck him on a stick! He’d once been poked by an inquisitive swordfish, and been very cross about it. But at least the swordfish hadn’t hoiked him into the air and waved him about! The sponge didn’t like air at the best of times. Now he was swaying to and fro, this way and that, as he was raised higher and higher, dripping vinegar.
“I don’t deserve this! Why me?” swooned the grumpy sponge. “Things can’t possibly get worse.” But then he came face to face with a man nailed onto some bits of a tree. This man had been snatched from his family and friends, poked and pierced and now been hoiked into the air.
The people below pushed the sponge up to the man’s lips for him to take a drink. The man’s face was full of pain and pressure, as if he’d been stung by a hundred thousand sea anemones, poked by all the swordfishes in the sea and had the weight of all the water in the world pressing down on him. But the sponge saw that this man wasn’t angry or even grumpy, even though he was in agony. In fact this man was full of love: love for the people that had snatched him away, or had laughed at him, even the ones that had hoiked him into the air. Despite the pain and pressure, this man’s face was full of love for everyone.
As the sponge was lowered, he didn’t feel grumpy anymore. When he had touched this man’s lips, he’d been kissed by the greatest love in the world. “I don’t deserve this! Why me?”
Happy Easter everyone.
A Warning to Little Shrews
Winston the cat
Is big, black and fat.
But his mew is so cute,
You’d never guess he’s a brute
Who likes to kill rats
And other tom cats.
He curls on the chair
With a warm sleepy stare.
But when you think he’s at rest,
He’s at his cruel, vicious best.
So little shrew beware:
Winston knows that you’re there.
He’s watching you peep
And feel safe and then creep
To the fridg- Bam! goes his paw
As he strikes with his claw
And sinks his teeth deep
And eats even your squeap!
Please note: ‘Squeap’ is the sound a shrew makes as it disappears in one big gollop into a big black fat cat. There’s no time for squealing and or squeaking – the k gets swallowed. Trust me.
Very pleased to see the artwork and my blurb for the DVD for Ajani’s Great Ape Adventures. This was such a great project to work on.
Supported by a whole host of international conservation charities, the three films that make up Ajani’s Great Ape Adventures are designed to teach young people across Africa about our close relatives the apes and how important it is to keep them and their habitat safe: not just for the apes but for the young people and their real families too. With poverty so often the consequence as well as the cause of habitat loss and species extinction, it is vital that solutions that benefit people as well as animals are found.
That all sounds far too heavy to put on a young one’s shoulders. But these stories, like any good educational tool, are fun and exciting with a feel good factor that will encourage rather than condemn. And they offer simple, practical and doable solutions that will help, not hinder local people to thrive.
I was brought in to work on the narration. Originating with Dutch filmmakers, the English version needed colloquializing so that it felt more in keeping with the characters. It was great fun and because I was working off of the rough cuts rather than the script, it was perhaps more akin to editing than writing. I loved watching the children’s performances and the footage of the chimps and gorillas is wonderful. And there is a poop fight. Of which I wholeheartedly approve.
I wish the Dutch makers of the films, Nature for Kids, every success with this project and hope I can work with them again in the future.
Today I shall mostly be… Oh please don’t expect me to do this kind of bloggy nonsense. Allow me some dignity. Dignity! Ha have you seen my photos? I think the only thing I should say on this most auspicious occasion is:
Check out Sarah Bird Ltd.
My thanks to Sarah for holding my hand during this online birthing process. It has not been too messy and we didn’t need any pain relief. Although if we’d had the option of gas and air, I for one would always take it.