Just pictures – no explanation
A piercing scream rent the air, a blood curdling cry that penetrated Jennifer’s brain and shattered what was left of her nerves. Instinctively she covered her ears and prayed for silence. For a moment there was blissful silence as the victim drew breath.
‘But I wanted to open my banana myself’ cried the little boy.
For the umpteenth time that day Julia wondered why on earth her brother Gerald thought she would enjoy looking after her great nephews for a few hours. What had possessed her to agree?
With her nerves already torn to shreds she had absent mindedly started to unpeel the fifth and last banana of the bunch. The two boys had constantly pleaded hunger since lunch and had not believed she had no Monster Munch or Peppa Pig yoghurts in her house.
One more hour to go, how to distract them…
Across the floor were strewn the toys they had brought from home, quickly abandoned after fierce arguments as to who owned which Lego figures. Drawing had resulted in a nasty stabbing, obviously a mistake to sharpen the pencils. The cat had been a distraction for a few seconds until it fled to hide under her bed.
There was always the last resort, television, totally against her principles turning them into zombies staring at a screen, but needs must. However, when she looked in the Radio Times she could find no young children’s programmes, what was the matter with the BBC, what happened to Blue Peter?
The doorbell rang at last.
‘Is that Grandad?’
Julia looked at her watch, a few minutes early, supposing it wasn’t Gerald, but the window cleaner coming for his money or her new curtains being delivered…
If it was not Gerald she was going to scream…
We had our second, proper Christmas on Tuesday 28th as Team H felt well enough to drive 180 miles on Monday and had negative results. People still get coughs, colds and winter lurgies nothing to do with Covid. It would have been a waste of totally rearranging and child proofing the house if they couldn’t have come at all! With my son and daughter-in-law living with me it has tripled ( octupled? ) the amount of equipment needing protection from three and six year old boys, not to mention the mountain of Christmas presents they had given each other.
A favourite children’s present, sent by Nanna in Spain via Amazon, turned out to be very popular. Seasick Sam is a game, along the same idea as Buckaroo, but they just liked playing with Sam. You see how much food you can stuff in his mouth before he is sick. We five adults had Secret Santa with all presents to be bought locally or in charity shops and we all came up with a great selection.
Writing did not take a back seat as six year old wanted to write his own Frightened Freddy Lego story and being six it revolved around vomiting, with Seaside Sam having a starring role and toilets. We took lots of screen shots and edited the pictures on the computer. When I suggested we start writing the story he said ‘I think I’ll make the story longer…’ who would be an editor!
The next day we edited more photos and whittled them down to 33. Then he narrated and I typed, no easy task with someone who bounces around like Tigger the whole time, whilst leaning on my desk… We printed it out and sent the photos to his mother’s ipad in time for the deadline of going home .
CHRISTMAS EVE – THAT GREAT BRITISH TRADITION; A CLIFF TOP WALK IN THE RAIN FOLLOWED BY MULLED WINE AND LUNCH AT THE BEACH HUT.
THE OTHER GREAT CHRISTMAS EVE TRADITION IS THE MORNING PHONE CALL… WHICH STARTS WITH ‘BAD NEWS..’ AMIDST ALL THE COVID TESTING, BOOSTING AND WAITING TO BE TRICKED BY THE PM INTO A LAST MINUTE LOCKDOWN, THERE ARE OTHER WINTER LURGIES LURKING. NOW WE ARE DEFERRING CHRISTMAS FOR A FEW DAYS UNTIL TEAM H HAVE NEGATIVE PCR RESULTS AND FEEL BETTER.
IT’S STILL RAINING BUT WE’VE HAD A GOOD DAY, GOOD LUNCH, FACETIMED, WATCHED ‘ARTHUR CHRISTMAS’ AND EVERYBODY GOT MORE LEGO…
I HOPE YOU ALL HAD A PLEASANT DAY WHATEVER YOU PLANNED OR HAD TO REARRANGE…
I’m sure we would all agree that the best YouTube videos are of Lego people and even on the big screen, wouldn’t you rather watch a blockbuster Lego Movie than one with real people in? But many people would be surprised to learn that Legoland is where some of the greatest writers get their inspiration.
My family are all Lego mad; you never grow out of Lego, you just spend more and more money on it, but it was only this year, after many hints that I got some Lego. You do not need to take the popular Bachelor of Arts in Lego Literature and Creative Danish at the University of Legoland to enrich your writing with inspiring plot lines and character development.
One of my lockdown birthday presents from Team H was a firefighter’s set, aged 4 plus. I just about managed to meet the challenge of building it on Facetime. There is a fire engine, a firefighter, a BBQ on fire and a Lego boy with a complex character – you can turn his head to have a scared face or a relieved face. How did the fire start? What happened next? Fearless Frank the Firefighter and Frightened Freddy became a short story. Then Team AK sent me a boat set, age 7 plus, a real challenge. A boat, two scuba divers, a sword fish and a treasure chest. I built a landing stage and it wasn’t long before the hapless Frightened Freddy was standing precariously on the edge of the water… Frightened Freddy Falls In became the sequel…
I had also ordered myself a lockdown present of a big yellow box of bricks and bits – ages 0-99 so it should last me a while.
If you have had writers’ block during the pandemic, you need the world’s most famous plastic blocks.
Are you inspired by Lego or has Lego taken over your house?
Lonely in Lockdown? No need to be, the new Minister for Fun, when interviewed today, said there was no need for people to be lonely in Lockdown just because they are not allowed to see real people, they can make new friends. You can make new friends out of anything and on the government website you can see some suggestions – here is a sneak preview.
Still stuck for ideas? There is always Lego.
Lockdown Three has none of the drama of Lockdown One, though it is more cutting edge than Lockdown Two when schools were open and we thought we still had Christmas to look forward to. In an echo of the brilliant dramatic twist twixt lockdowns when Christmas was cancelled at the last moment, because Covid 19 reneged on its promise to give us five days off, the director instituted a brilliant scene from Downing Street in which the PM closes all schools, not the day before, but the very day after they started the new term ( a sentence nearly as long as lockdown ).
Lockdown Three promises to be longer than Lockdown Two, but with the same advantage of covering winter months, so people will be glad to huddle indoors. Are we prepared? I think it would have been more dramatic if we could be like the French and fill in forms to produce to show we have a good reason to be out. We are allowed out for exercise, to get immunised and to buy food and some people might actually have to go out to work… My freezer now has one drawer full of sliced apple from the tree in my garden; it thrived during last spring and summer’s sunny lockdowns, with no desire to leave home. Another drawer is devoted to the Christmas feast postponed till Chreastersummermas. I still have enough room for regular rations.
As my first winter being a widow it seems apt for normal life to be suspended, not that I would wish a pandemic on the rest of the world merely to take the pressure off me deciding anything. While half the population, from politicians to front line services, are busier than ever, the other half may be shielding or out of work, life curtailed to the banal or at least a gentler pace. There are plenty of positives; new hobbies, putting your CD collection in alphabetical order, having cooking fun. Gardening may have taken a back seat, but you can fill your home with pot plants and cut flowers; perhaps your family will not be able to find you in the jungle when at last they can visit.
There are new experiences for most of us. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra tomorrow starts its second series of digital, livestreamed concerts. You can buy tickets for individual concerts or the whole season on line. We had a camera club zoom party and I won the Bingo; no need to go out on a cold night with plates of food, or clear up afterwards. Every Saturday night I join in a Zoom quiz; a window on the outside world.
If you get bored you can always order yourself more presents from Amazon ( yes I know we shouldn’t, but we all use them because you can find what you want, or even things you didn’t know you wanted, and it always arrives ). Nearly everyone in my family from four to forties is obsessed with Lego ( Lego is certainly not just for children ) and after many hints I was given my first Lego set – Lego Architecture mini London. It was tiny, fiddly, fun and addictive; a total change from blogging and writing. I have ordered myself a big box of Lego bricks and bits so I can make my own creations.
My little real Christmas tree in the front garden has been undecorated, but today I had a Glastonburyish idea; I am going to leave it there and tie a ribbon on every day till we’re out of lockdown.
Today’s window peeps into one of the most famous Christmas stories. A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in 1843. It recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.
The story has been filmed or inspired films many times and as you are probably busy getting ready for Christmas, why not watch this five minute Lego version?
‘How was your Christmas?’
As you go back to work, or your classes, clubs and groups resume, that is the question you can’t avoid. Mother Nature is no respecter of Christmas or New Year, nor is Lady Luck. Volcanoes blow up, oceans swell and man made disasters occur, so making a drama of your turkey exploding ( yes that did happen to a friend’s family ) is rather pathetic, but everyone has Christmas and New Year tales to tell.
We had our Christmas early; Christmas is a date where nothing happens in your home unless you make it. Ours was great fun and the participants could disperse for another Christmas and more presents. But out in the further reaches of the family universe another Christmas has gone by with a rift unhealed, though thanks to technology most of the family are always connected…
A year ago our joint present to ourselves was an ipad so we could abandon Skype and do Facetime; everyone else was already ‘on Apple’. I Facetimed with my mother and sister in Australia and the connection kept unconnecting and reconnecting. Considering what a technical marvel it is in the first place it doesn’t take us long to get frustrated when it doesn’t work. We Facetimed Canada and they were upside down and so were we. On Saturday three of us Facetimed Australia and talked to four people and two dogs, picture and sound were perfect.
Presents: Secret Santa for seven adults was a success; it had been decided to use a website that secretly allotted the anonymous givers and receivers. My parcel included a stuff your own teddy, complete with birth certificate and heart – age 8 plus. We make photo books every Christmas for the pre-readers. Three year old’s was ‘Choclate Moose Comes to Stay’, but it was his thirty three year old uncle who was more engrossed in the book. You are never too old for Lego it seems, Lego caters for big boys and girls with Creator Expert and a red double decker bus and camper van were among the creations in progress that appeared on Family Facebook.
Traditions: There are many treats to choose from over the season. At our local garden centre you can visit two live reindeer for free; they look a bit bored in their pen, probably missing the rest of the herd grazing on the pastures of Dorset. You can also book in advance and pay a lot to visit Father Christmas’s grotto, passing giant singing penguins on the way.
Baby and three year old went to their local ‘country house’ to visit the magic elf forest. This involved getting on the elf train ( a decorated truck ) and visiting Father Christmas at the top of a tower. They were the last ones to visit him and when they came back down, the elf train had left, they could have been lost in the magic elf forest forever! But that was not their only meeting with Santa. We were astonished when pictures came through the ether on Christmas Eve afternoon of Real Father Christmas sitting in their living room… An older tradition is the pantomime; the little ones were taken to their town’s lovely old theatre on Boxing Day to see Jack And The Beanstalk, the three year old was mesmerised.
With Christmas being done and dusted in our house I was able to indulge in that Christmas Eve tradition, watching Carols from Kings on television. Even if people don’t go to church themselves they expect the real meaning of Christmas to still be celebrated in wonderful cathedrals with angelic choir boys. Later in the evening we watched a year inside Saint Paul’s Cathedral with lots of quirky adults and dear little choir boys in their boarding school.
Walks: on Christmas morning we went down to the beach, along with many others, but were surprised to see some stripping down for a dip in the sea, they didn’t stay in long, but the solitary surfer in shorts, no wetsuit, stayed in a good while.
Yesterday, on New Years Day, the sun at last came out and the beach was as packed as a summer’s day for the final tradition of the festive season – a walk. A brisk walk was difficult on the crowded promenade and there were long queues for the cafes, but that’s all part of the tradition.