“Umbrella” because the two components of this post are completely disparate but I’m going to lump them together ‘cos today is the day for writing about them both. The first part is a family oriented kiddie post, the second touches on the reading aloud of poetry. Take your pick, dear reader, or read ‘em both.
The eldest boy is celebrating his 8th birthday today. He came downstairs this morning to find the sofa stacked with presents – presents that his dad hastily wrapped last night while his mum suffered beneath the vicious malaise of a horrible cold. Every birthday / Christmas Karen and I always say “this time we’ll be more organized and get the presents wrapped early” and every time we play present wrapping chicken and wrap them at the very last minute.
Not that Ben minded. He’s had a good haul – loads of Lego (naturally), a Nintendo game, the ubiquitous Pokémon cards and a digital camera amongst the new treasures.
Tom’s reaction was very interesting. Last Christmas he still didn’t fully understand this “present opening malarkey” at all though had good fun shredding the discarded paper and cardboard.
Today however was very much a different kettle of fish. He seemed as excited by the presents as Ben was – lots of cooing and ooh-ing and a few attempts to eat the presents whilst still in their wrapping paper...
But once the gifts were unwrapped they were far more intriguing than the paper.
I sense a shift in consciousness here. Gone are the days when we could have palmed him off with an empty box or a bit of glittery paper... now he wants product! He’s joined the consumer race at last.
To help avoid any displays of jealousy or feelings of neglect we bought Tom a little present too. His current love is bus spotting whenever we are out and about in the car. He just loves them. Every time we point a bus out to him we elicit a shout of joy and the phrase: “Dus! Dus!” which is Tom’s pronunciation of the word “bus”.
Hence Tom’s present just had to be a big bright yellow Lego Duplo bus complete with passengers and luggage compartment which, if it has been opened and closed once, it has been opened and closed a hundred times already. He loves anything with a hinge does our Tom.
He has refused to let the damn thing go and has taken it into nursery with him. Woe betide the staff if they ever try and separate them...
Anyway the upshot is, I think Tom has decided he quite likes birthdays. Doesn’t matter if it’s his or not. Any birthday will do. Just as long as he acquires a bus.
Let’s hope I’m not having to negotiate with Midland Red when he turns 18...
And now for the poetry...
Janete over at Writer’s Blog has embedded a small movie into her latest post featuring photos she has taken during her travels. The soundtrack is Janete herself reading one of her amazing poems. It’s worth a click and a few minutes of your time savouring the experience.
What struck a chord with me was Janete’s comment about not liking her own voice. I expect most people feel the same way – possibly because we imagine our voices to sound somehow different to how they really are... sort of the same but different. The same but improved. Polished. Authoritative. Silkier. Movie star like.
It’s always depressing when you hear your voice played back to you and you realize you sound like a bin man from Walsall.
Not that Janete does, I hasten to add. I actually think she has a fabulous voice – really lovely – and it suits her poetry perfectly. Go and listen to it if you don’t believe me.
Mine, however, does. Or at least I think it does. About 15 years ago I had the opportunity to read out some of my poetry on a local radio programme broadcast by Coventry & Warwickshire BBC. It was to be pre-recorded and would be broadcast a week later... so, lucky me, I’d be able to listen to myself in the comfort of my own home.
For some reason, even though I’m Midlands born and bred, I had a fancy to sound like Ted Hughes. I loved his poetry and I loved to hear him reciting it. Such a rich, dark voice. And the Yorkshire accent lent his words an expressiveness and earthiness that added yet more depth and richness to a grasp of language that was already immeasurably deep and rich.
Oh to sound like that! I would have turned heads.
Now, don’t think for a minute that, when presented with the microphone, I launched into an awful cod-Yorkshire “ee bah gum it’s cold oop North int it” accent. I wasn’t that stupid. I’m not good at mimicking accents though can manage a passable Scots if I put my mind to it (but as my dad is part Scottish this is only right and proper).
I merely tried to speak clearly and authoritatively. With feeling and passion. With an ear for the words and the music of my poetry.
I swear to God I sounded like a Birmingham fish monger reading William Blake. Not a great mix.
It affected me so badly I didn’t write anything for nearly 12 months and, bar reading a 3rd prize winning poem at Warwick’s 2006 Warwick Words competition, have never read my work aloud again.
Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder but the ear has its part to play also.