I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Zach: Up front and articulate

I’ll post the second, concluding, half of Little Miss Monoglot on Monday. Nobody takes blogs seriously at weekends or, at least, not Tone Deaf.

So here’s something different: RR in church but not for a funeral. On Friday I drove grandson Zach to his school’s harvest festival. I did my bit, bellowing Come Ye Thankful People Come, sometimes as a bass, sometimes a tenor. Some words have ever-so-slightly pagan echoes:

Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown

followed by

Give his angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast

ending with

All be safely gathered in
Free from sorrow, free from sin
There for ever purified.

Zach (bottom of pointy line) acted as narrator during the inexplicable insertion into the proceedings of Little Red Hen. Asked why he got this job he said offhandedly, “Because I’m the best reader in the class.” Not boasting, simply stating a fact.

Back home he got chance to prove this. For homework he had to read aloud The Big Stink by Sheila Lavelle. I asked him what level this represented given several hardish words (bean casserole, gold medallist, traction engine) all gabbled away at high speed. It seems it is hors cat├ęgorie. Zach is six.

NOTE Following the appearance of the German short story Lucy suggested perhaps I “get” Germany more than I “get” France. It’s quite possible; I suspect I’m more detached about the former. Anyway Monoglot is about France and I’d welcome a confirmation of this from anyone who has read both. But don’t break a leg.


  1. The Zachster is six already?! And a confident reader. I would have enjoyed listening to his interpretation of the Little Red Hen at the Harvest Festival.

    Oh I think you definitely "get" your German characters. Comparing would be unfair though, because I can count on one hand the number of French people I've known and I have never been to France. I certainly feel a natural flow in the conversations in both stories.

  2. It is brave of you to tackle the German and the French background to your stories. Not being in a position to judge how accurately you reflect the respective cultures I have simply taken them as read. Which is a tribute to your imagination, skill and research. Some people might say: stick to what you know. Not I. The stories have an essential human truth, which I wouldn't challenge. You have avoided stereotypes of course.

  3. Congrats to Zach for his performance!

    Caroline and her classmates have divided and subdivided their class into "best at.." categories since the first grade. When they run out of school subjects, they start in on personal skills, so while someone might be best at math, another shines as "best at Star Wars impersonations." They all also know exactly who is the tallest, who the shortest, and where they fit in that order.

  4. RW (zS): I suppose one of my hopes was that you in particular might recognise a German flavour in what I wrote - mainly from what I included (eg, cardboard shoes in the East (not literally but some kind of cheap leather substutute), the physical realisation of Frau Gruber, the jumped-up nature of Schultheiss delighted to find himself a boss - even if only a mini-boss - in the West). The trouble is I know you are kind-hearted and therefore not naturally equipped as a critic.

    Joe: Avoiding stereotypes. It helps if you choose a foreign location and/or character and merely pick out the details that go with it or him/her. Frau Gruber was a gift, in this sense, since I doubt I've ever noticed anyone in the UK with this job.

    Julia: Is this an official set-up sanctioned by the teachers? If so they're a good deal more flexible than most of the teachers I've met. A few years ago the idea of competition in schools (on the sports field as well as the classroom) was thought to be deleterious to children's well-being and as a result the concept of everyone getting a prize was launched. There were predictable noises from the conservatives. This is a far more useful, stronger solution since it supports the idea that a class consists of individuals rather than high- or low-scoring "pupils".

    I hope you are working very very hard with Democrats Overseas. Mitt - what kind of a name is that?

  5. Caroline says that the teacher knows nothing about the rankings. Apparently they discuss these things on the playground.

    Voter deadlines loom, so yesterday was my last big day of local work - we helped four study abroad programs with their ballots and the embassy sent them off by FedEx this morning. After registering 650 or so people, and helping scads of study abroad students figure out the administrative mysteries of absentee ballots, I was glad to see those votes go out!