Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Boundlessness And The Model Rabbit

This afternoon, some time between moulding a green Peter Rabbit out of Play-Doh and, colluding in his eventual demise by means of a poison carrot, Speckly Woo and I shared our thoughts on the world, as we see it, respectively.

For the most part, when we spend time together, I listen intently while she arrows me with sharp observations, such as the fact that I have black bits on some of my teeth (fillings) because I didn't brush well when I was little.

Currently, the home education support group has taken on the theme of daily life in Britain during WW2. Last Friday, she picked up on the plight of evacuees and was intrigued to learn that children were packed off to the safety of the countryside, to live with people they didn't know.

Just after Peter Rabbit had been despatched, having eaten my ill-proportioned, poisoned red carrot, Speckly Woo was deep in thought. She was rolling a tiny piece of Play-Doh between her fingers - a miracle pill, designed to bring Peter back to the land of brightly coloured misfits - when she suddenly made reference to the gas masks that evacuated children had to carry at all times. "They were to protect the little children from 'naughty smoke', Grandad," she said.

This prompted me to remember a question I had asked in childhood. Nothing unique, in that almost every child must wonder, if they don't actually ask, 'where does the sky end?' It was explained to me, that there was no end, which seemed a bit of a lame answer to a boy with a headful of Dan Dare. I was hoping there was an outer limit that my heroes headed for. Some place where they could tie up their space ships, get a couple of shots of cosmic 'red-eye' and catch forty winks before embarking on the next adventure.

For years, I wrestled with the concept of infinity. Okay, I could see space rolling out to way beyond the point where I could no longer see. But, the more I tried to imagine 'no end', my mind kept providing me with brick walls, fences and huge sheets of white. And beyond every one of these barriers was, of course, more space, until the next partition.

Whilst preoccupied with the conundrum of time and space, I had been - under instruction from Speckly Woo - almost unconsciously creating a crazy rabbit, with large eyes and an evil grin. "Where does this fit into the story?" I asked, handing the long-eared specimen over.

"You'll see, Grandad," came the sweet reply, "but first, I must cut his head off, to make sure he's safe."

Back to Earth, then.


  1. Wonderful glimpse into a world with grandchildren; I love the way a child's mind works.

  2. Your little Woo is delightfully precocious. I can't wait for grandkids.

  3. Fascinating -- those fresh observations. You're so lucky to have Speckly Woo.

  4. Aaah! Cosmic red-eye. I remember it well.
    Speckly Woo is a treasure and maybe a budding horror writer?

  5. Martin, dear man, every child should have a grandad like you.
    Much love to you and Speckly Woo.

  6. Naughty smoke - I love it! Speckly Woo has your gift with words.

  7. I love, love, love these conversations we share with our grandchildren! I'm glad to share my earth with little creatures like your gorgeous Speckly Woo.

    The topic of child evacuees has always fascinated me because my father was one of them. He and his brother were evacuated from Hastings to the countryside for three years. The couple who 'adopted' them became my Uncle John and Aunt Betty for the rest of their lives.

  8. That's the thing with kids. Big concepts one minute, then crash down to real life the next.

  9. Ahhh conversations with kids. Sounds like your Speckly Woo is a dandy. Your thoughts from childhood and your grandchilds words-reminded me of a story my parents tell about my older brother. When he was about 5 he asked them if he was a real boy or just a toy : )

  10. Marilyn - The little ones in our family, keep me sane.

    willow - She's a darling. And the twins are following nicely in her footsteps...in their own, individual ways.

    Vicki - There isn't a minute of the day when I don't count myself the luckiest grandfather.

    Lynne - She certainly shows no signs of being the squeamish type.

    Friko - Thank you. They are very easy to love.

    Teresa - She does have a gift for words and, she strings them together in coherent arguments, with frightening ease!

    Nana Jo - I agree. The conversations we have with our grandchildren are priceless.

    Fran - That's just it. They see everything so clearly at this age. Long may it continue.

    tipper - Speckly Woo is a 'dandy', alright. Thanks for dropping by. I'll have to tell our daughter what your older brother said when he was a small boy. Love it.

  11. Oh, Martin, I love it when you write about your grandchildren. What a wonderful grandfather you are. Some of my favorite freewheeling conversations with grandchildren have come when we were drawing or putting together a puzzle or playing with Play Doh. Something about having the fingers busy frees up the mind to dream.

  12. ""You'll see, Grandad," came the sweet reply, "but first, I must cut his head off, to make sure he's safe.""

    This may be the scariest line of prose I have ever read!

  13. Susan - Thank you. I'm constantly amazed at the power of a small child's imagination. The speed and complexity of plot changes is startling.

    sEAN - And I was sat right next to her!


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