Friday, 22 June 2012


Oh dear. Between a cricked neck and a stinking cold I'm very 'bear with the sniffles' today.
Poor, poor, POOR me.
I'm really extremely a bit ill you know?
Thank goodness we still have some fizzy raspberry vitamin C tablets in the house from making frobscottle and some of the new Lindt 'intense' toasted coconut flavour dark chocolate. A medicinal combination.

In my current near-death state I'm not sure what to make of the news that Bill has decided to recite 'The Jumblies' for the school talent competition next week. He will be wearing a sieve.
On the one hand I'm obviously delighted at his appreciation of Nonsense and can't help feeling it may serve him better than last year's scratch improvised song/dance routine with the boys; 'Bum, Bum, Hi Karate' which inexplicably failed to make it past class auditions. But his decision comes a mere week after the Dread Michael Gove announced the plan to force all children to learn poetry off by heart from the age of 5 for The Good Of Their Mortal Souls. Have I inadvertently given birth to Gove's Love (or Loave) Child?


Let's not pursue that horrific thought and turn our faces to the sun instead (even if only virtual again today sigh). This year is after all the 200th anniversary of Edward Lear's birth and I'm all in favour of Jumblies, Pobbles, Yonghy Bonghy Bos and Quangle Wangles spreading their joy without prescription or conscription across every classroom in the land. Everybody NEEDS Nonsense. especially when they have a cold.

We were all fortunate enough to attend the British Library's event in honour of Lear a month or so ago and hear Michael Rosen, Roger McGough and musician Ben Glasstone pay tribute to the great man by reading and singing his and their own poems and songs. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't really read any to the boys before that point so they went to it pretty 'cold'. They came back again chanting 'Far and few, far and few are the lands where the Jumblies live...' and haven't really stopped since. Infectious stuff nonsense.

We have a rather old and musty compendium volume in the house but I thought it was worth seeking out picture book versions where individual poems could have a bit more space to be appreciated. Better 5 and 7 year old eye candy; Eddie at least is not sophisticated enough yet to properly unpick the wonders of Lear's own illustrations. There are disappointingly few out there but from the library we found Ian Beck's illustrated 'The Jumblies' and 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat'. The former alas is currently out of print, but only just- so your own library would be likely to have a copy should you fancy a go. They make a nice companion to an original Lear, allowing them to be read as a picture book rather than requiring solely a listening ear. Nonsense for beginners if you like. I could do with more like them.

Eased in this way, Bill took the full compendium, must and all to bed last night and emerged by my pillow this morning making up his own limericks and worrying about the fate of the Yonghy Bonghy Bo; 'He's not actually real is he Mum? So I don't really need to be sad do I?'

Michael Gove would be delighted. I'm taking to my bed.

'The Jumblies' by Edward Lear, illustrated by Ian Beck, pub. by Transworld isbn 0-385-60117-4