Writing skills

Daughter three is developing journalistic tendencies. At a recent Festival we attended she took out a clipboard. Daughter three always seems to have a clipboard handy for such occasions. She started writing notes at the various debates she insisted on being taken to. I was sitting beside her, also taking notes, and I rather think hers were better and, in any event, more legible. My handwriting has gone to pot since the advent of the computer and my shorthand has very much developed its own shorthand since my days in journalism classes. So much so that I sometimes find it fairly hard to read back myself and I invented it.

Daughter three also decided to write a book review on a book on my desk, the only book that might appeal to her. I’m not sure she is really into 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again. It was about a book called Min’s Move. It tells the story of a family who are moving abroad. Daughter three was really captured by the story. She loved the illustrations, but mainly the idea of travelling and learning about new places. She could totally imagine, though, the fears that a small child would have moving abroad. She wrote about how it was good to be able to read about such experiences and know that you weren’t alone in your fears. It was good for adults too, she thought, “because then they might know what to say to their kids about moving after reading the book and that it will be fine”. Inspired by the book, daughter three is now very much into the idea of her family moving abroad.

It’s something my partner, who is Spanish, would be quite keen to do too, given the current state of social services to which he has devoted the last 20 years or so. Ideally, he would like to live in Ibiza and spend every morning “fishing”, ie lounging about in the sun. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are too many jobs in Ibiza and his fishing skills have probably not been that honed in deepest Essex. He is also stuck with a partner who feels slightly adrift if she lives anywhere that is not within walking distance of a newsagent. The older two kids are not so keen to move either – daughter two because, apart from being still on bed rest following the gymnastics incident and demanding gourmet lunches every day, she is worried about tidal waves and the like, and daughter one because it would probably require too much effort on her part. She assures me that she will be leaving for Japan soon, though, having done one class in business Japanese.

Only son likes being at home. He is, however, joining daughter three in writerly enthusiasm. The other day I was standing outside his class when I noticed the wooden hut in the playground. It was covering in green pen. Someone had written mat, dad, mum and at up one side. I thought to myself that that looked fairly familiar, given that only son spells these words out regularly in the air. Sure enough, under ‘at’ was only son’s signature. I walked round the hut. The same green pen was all over the window sill, with all the numbers up to 12. Oh dear. I went to inform the teacher in case he got into trouble later. “He told us about it already,” she said, smiling, as I explained he was a little bit overenthusiastic about learning his letters. He has written his name on all his shoes, across the front, and there are labels literally everywhere in our house. At least we know who everything belongs to, which may come in useful if we ever do move. And who knows, maybe we won’t have to make any decisions about moving because UKIP will make them for us.

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