The Book Fall

Coinciding with the quiet period at work, I am trying to make amends regarding the paucity of updates on this web site so far this year.  I have always been acutely aware that the website will always play second fiddle (well fourth or fifth fiddle, or second oboe; whatever the orchestral hierarchical equivalent is) to family life and actually creating the memories in the first place.  Nevertheless, I am also acutely aware that many of you enjoy reading about our family life which makes the effort of these updates a little easier.

The end of the academic year is looming into view, so as Éowyn leaves year 1 and Amélie says goodbye to pre-school there are all the end of year activities to enjoy.  The most important of these was the Hollywood Première screening of the film that Éowyn’s after school drama club have been working on for the past term.

Magna Carta Arts Centre in Staines presented the first showing of ‘The Book Fall’ and myself and Éowyn had tickets for the showing; poor Mommy elected to stay behind and look after Amélie and Ezra.  The Sense Theatre had sent out a letter encouraging parents and pupils alike to dress up to try to bring a sense of glamour to the proceedings.  They had laid a red carpet and there was popcorn.  Unfortunately not everyone took it in that spirit.  I was only one of three dads that I could see in a suit and the only one wearing a tie.  The majority of the children had dressed up though, which was nice to see.

The premise of the film is that a school teacher challenges her pupils to read as many books as they can over the summer holiday, a prize given to the pupil that reads the most books.  There are two groups of pupils the swotty, nerdy types who are challenging each other as to how many books they will read, and the non-swotty types who think that reading is boring.  To try to convince the non-swotty types that reading books is fun, the swotty pupils read to the non-scotty pupils and as they begin to read so those sections of the books are acted out by other children.  The books that were filmed were children classics, modern books like Mr Stink to the real classic like The Hobbit, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 5 Children and It, Oliver Twist and, the book that Éowyn was in, Naughty Amelia Jane by Enid Blyton.

I am not sure how many schools were involved in total but it was a nice idea.  Each group of children could concentrate on a small section of the film which acted as a stand alone play within the overall narrative.  Considering the time constraints, the lack of budget and the fact that it was probably the first time that the majority of the children, had ever acted yet alone acted in front of a video camera I think we have to praise Sense Theatre.  Unfortunately with so many children the 2 hour running time only allowed most children a couple of lines and, if I am being honest, at times it was quite painful.  Nevertheless the children were very excited to see themselves on the big screen and Éowyn’s eyes lit up when she saw herself.

Now I can understand that 2 hours is a lot of film to watch especially when you are only there to see perhaps 20 seconds, the 20 seconds that your child is on-screen, however it is the height of bad manners to whoop and holler while your child is on-screen and then disturb everyone as you leave immediately your child’s last lines have been uttered.  This wasn’t just a select few, out of an audience of close to 250 less than 25 remained at the end.  However, if any of you are desperate to see the complete film we purchased the DVD.  I don’t think that I’ll be sitting through the entirety again, although if Éowyn ever becomes a famous actress it will be come part of the archive video footage.

With the end of the academic year looming into view there is one eye on the next.  To prepare for the next step in their educational progress both girls had an opportunity to spend a morning in their new classes.  For Éowyn, that is a new teacher at a new site but with the same classmates; for Amélie however it is full-time education, at a new school with a completely new set of classmates.  Amélie’s teacher, Miss Snow, seems very friendly but her biggest challenge will be to make new friends.  Fortunately our friend’s girl, Natalie, will not only be at the same school but in the same class.  Therefore Amélie will have one friend in the class.

Unusually Amélie was upset the night before, so we sat down to talk to her thinking that the thought of going to the big school was disturbing her.  It developed that it wasn’t the thought of going to big school per se that was upsetting her but the fact that she wanted to take a packed lunch.  She takes a packed lunch to nursery but every child in full-time education up to the age of 7 is entitled to free school meals in the UK.  Therefore, Amélie (and Éowyn) will both enjoy free school meals this coming school year.

We convinced her to try her school dinner and we would then think about it for when she goes to school in September.  To her credit she happily went to school the next morning.  When we picked her up that afternoon we asked her what she thought of her new school.  She was full of praise saying it was the best day ever and that the best thing was the school dinner which was sausage and mash.  One less thing to worry about!

Sometimes fate gives opportunities at exactly the right time.  Last week was Natalie’s birthday and she had a party at Spelthorne gym.  Since Natalie goes to the nursery at Amélie’s new school many of the pupils and Natalie’s friends will be in her class.  Therefore, it was a good opportunity for Amélie to get to know some of her new classmates, as well as have fun at Spelthorne gym (and it is fun) and celebrate Natalie’s birthday.  It was good to sit and observe Amélie and from watching our second daughter I don’t think that she will have any problems making friends.

The end of school party at Éowyn’s school was slightly unusual, for they had invited Festival Circus to put on a show (3 showings of the same show!) in a big top on the school playing field.  I took the day off work and took the girls while Lucinda stayed behind looking after Ezra and her child-minding ward.  The show was excellent , not completely polished but that was part of the charm. The girls were enthralled and both had different favourites: Éowyn the gymnastic displays on the ropes and Amélie the girl who could simultaneously hula 10 hula hoops.

Lucinda is now on the P.T.A. and as soon as her working day was over she headed over to the school (we had already returned to look after Ezra) to help sell refreshments and tidy up.  The early indications are that it was roaring success and all had a good time.  Hopefully this is the start of turning the school around at least in terms of uniting the P.T.A. and staff into a common goal.

It seems that this write up is all about the girls so it is only fair to regale a couple of stories of our son.  He is on the whole very well-behaved but he does have a couple of cheeky habits.  One is jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed, a game he calls 4,5,6.  Not sure what happened to 1,2,3 but he stands at one end of the bed and shouts 4,5,6 before launching himself forward.  Not something that we want to encourage but it is quite amusing.

He other little quirk that he has at the moment is the nicknames that he has given the girls.  Éowyn he calls ‘A’ (pronounced as the capital – Ay), which is understandable as that is the first syllable of her name.  Therefore if Éowyn is called ‘A’ what do you think Amélie’s nickname is?  ‘Bay’.  So it is ‘Goodnight Ay, goodnight Bay‘ before he totters off to bed.

I will bid you adieu and leave you with the photos, there are plenty of the circus on our Flickr pages if you are interested.

Peace and love