Friday, December 25, 2009

The Dancing day is here

On this  Day of all days, I remember Max Fargus telling the housegroup that met in the home of Joan Priestley and Jean Wright, that the Incarnation was for him the most special of all times.
Here in Multicultural, Secular, New Age  and exciting Brighton where everything goes, no-one is excluded ,wear what you like, no shock Brighton, the baby thing , stable thing , virgin thing, magi thing actually has a unique resonance .
I have just read again Luke 1 and 2. It is in this place the most ordinary of stories. That is the Genius of the Incarnation.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Age guidance

My 10 years as a bookseller , 40 as a teacher, 35 as a mother and 60 as a bibliophile give me the right to have an informed opinion about the Publishers Association's idea , also they say informed , and researched, to embed Age Guildance on the cover of Books marketed for Children.
I can see the future
  • 10 yr old children will be guilt ridden for reading Owl Babies for 5 yr olds (   ISBN-10: 0744531675)
  • 3 yr olds will have inflated egos because they know Old MacDonald Had  a Farm (ISBN-10: 0859536629) by heart when it is for 4 yr olds
  • 12 yr olds will not dare read Cops and Robbers (Allen Ahlberg)  ISBN-10: 0140565841
  • The North/South Divide  will be replaced by those who have read Shadowmancer and those who have read Wormwood 
  • 8 year olds will be putting brown paper covers on 'How I live now'
  • Teenagers will be re-catagorized into sub groups
  1. Teenage single Mums
  2. D I N KY s under 20 in own flat 
  3. DINKY s under 20 living with her Mum
  4. Earnest Oxbridge  Hopefuls
  5. Oxbridge Hopefuls
  6. Earnest Gap year to Asia 
  7. Earnest Gap year to Australia
  8. Earnest Gap year going to work in Next for a year
  9. Gap Year
  10. 18 yr old  at College doing Media Studies
  11. 18 yr old at College doing Bricklaying
  12. 18 yr old at College doing nothing
  13. Young Sun readers
  14. Underclass
  15. 14 yr old gang group member hanging around Mills Metro every evening
  16. 15 yr old gang     group member hanging around Filey Bus Station every evening
  17. 16-18 yr old young people with Saturday jobs, still living at home, going to football/Sea Scouts
  18. 13-16 yr old young people doing their homework and looking forward to being a Lifeguard on Filey Beach in the Summer as soon as they are old enough
  19. Young musicians  who  hope their band will become famous
  20. 10-12 yr olds who look 15

 I can imagine all the Shelf talkers and dumpbins  Wrays will have to get . I can envisage the Data bases with their fields increased a hundred fold as books are re grouped and written.  There will be Childcare for teenage Mums (Aged 16), Childcare for Young Mums in their own flats(Aged 18), Vampire novels for 13 yr olds, Vampire Novels  for 14 yr olds Vampire Novels for Parents, It will be a logistics nightmare.

When I was teaching 8/9 yr olds in Battersea in 1968 I read  the class 'The Magicians Nephew' and 'The Lion the witch and the wardrobe' (C S Lewis) and a mixed ability class had little  difficulty understanding the language. I read 'Danny Fox'(David Thomson) to 5yr olds in Surrey in 1987, 'Danny Champion of the world'(Roald Dahl) to 10yr olds , 'The Hobbit ' (Tolkien) and 'The Horse and his boy'(CS Lewis) to 8yr olds in Wimbledon in 1970. I read 'Silly Verse for kids' (Spike Milligan) to every child I ever taught, also 'He wishes for the clothes of Heaven '(Yeats) and most of the poems in Verse and Worse, (ed Silcock).
When I taught yr 6  in 2005-7 in Bridlington they could not understand the language of the Hobbit, or C S Lewis. My (Bright) English set enjoyed the Lemony Snicket novels. My 8yr old class in 2003 enjoyed Danny Fox, and my Special needs children aged 11 (Behavioural difficulties) lapped up Ahlbergs 'Cops and Robbers(over and over again), and 'Fantastic Mr Fox ' has been enjoyed by all age groups.
There is no such thing as the right age to read a book. A child alone will try a book and read on if they like it. A class group need something pitched  at the Group , but I have never believed that pitching at the less able learners gave the best' value ' to the group.   We  read Eothen by Kingslake , and A tale of two Cities aged 11, I don't think that would happen in yr 7 now, but I like to think Alex Rider Novels, Michael Morpurgo, Malorie Blackman, Paul Gallicos 'Snow Goose' would at least be interesting , and they may be read mostly between the ages of 8 and 14, but I would never put an age on them.
I read all the Steinbeck Novels when I was a teenager (13-16), I read them all again (21-25) , I am reading them again (63) . I get a different joy each time.
I think everyone should read 'Cold Comfort farm '. I finished it last night at about midnight. I simply could not put it down. I realised that when I read it last (when I was about 15) although I loved the story, most of the 'send ups' were lost on me. Similarly I love reading what children are reading . Chris our Filey Librarian keeps me informed. My son,has discovered the joys of reading in the last few years. His told me to read  Larklight. I loved it so much, and yet it is in the Childrens section of my local large Bookstore.My son is 31.
It has always been OK for children to Access 'Adult 'Non Fiction  '. Sometimes I prefer the Non fiction from the Childrens Section. The catagories Adult and Children will do for me.
Where I will put the graphic Novel of Franz Kafka's 'The Trial ' I know not, probably put a brown paper cover on it or hide it at the back of a shelf somewhere, as I do with books I don't want anyone to read! Everyone should at least look at the Graphic Novels  , and the Manga  comic books. Are they for adults? Are they for Children? I will promote anything that popularises the written word,of FICTION  which is for EVERYONE . I even think we should all have a copy of the Manga Bible, Ive given mine away already, must get another one.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Rex Whistler in Pickering

Seven of us in Filey Parish went to a conference in Pickering last Saturday. It was a grand day out. I love a change of scenery ,a trip to somewhere near but not familiar enough to be commonplace. I hadn't been to Pickering this year. The Organic shop used to pull us with its feel good to the environment ,don't eat chemicals attraction. I now think that to drive 20 miles to get apples and veg for 2 on a regular basis is not actually helping our carbon footprint , now I know what that means. So until my helpful, friendly and personable local greengrocer gets some organic apples we tread the pray against harm and wash the fruit thoroughly path.Of course we tell all our summer visitors to go to Pickering.  It is a delightful day out from here,castle, railway, junk shops, wall paintings , Beck Isle Museum, Pottery and great shops.
Our day Conference was on Pastoral Prayer Training. The speaker was excellent, BUT the HALL was fantastic. When I asked the organiser how much the hall had cost , I could see the cogs in his mind whirring. I wasnt going to ask him to justify his expenses at all, I simply thought the VENUE was great. It had everything
  • Comfy upright chairs
  • decent crockery
  • Pristine loos
  • Interesting and Charming Community Millenium Tapestry
  • Lots of free parking around (in winter!)
  • a beautiful feel
  • a view of Pickering Beck through the vast  picture windows
I kept thinking during the lunch break, What can I hire this hall for? Too far for party for grandchildren, or BeverleyMothers  90th birthday,maybe ok for Parish Away day! I will store the info in one of the reservoirs of my memory.
One thing however rankled.

It is awful, it spoils the room, DOES ANYONE LIKE IT, if so COMMENTS PLEASE.