Welcome to the collection of stories I have written to share with others – first with my own grand daughters [Katie and Emily] and then with family and friends.
The stories were written over a ten year period and they grow in complexity as my girls grew up.
My own father was a wonderful story teller. His bedtime stories always involved a few original characters – of them, Paul Pixie, was obviously a version of me. My father would always open the story telling session with a simple question: do you want a good one or a bad one this time? A good one was a story in which Paul Pixie did good things and was suitably rewarded. Of course these stories were terribly dull and were rarely called for. No, Dad, give us a bad one, my brothers and I would say. A bad one saw Paul Pixie fall from grace – and suffer a fitting punishment. I think I learned a lot about story telling from my father.
I made sure that my own sons, Gordon and Lachlan, had the same rich experiences with story telling that I did as a child. We would begin with Dad and the two little boys crowded on to one of their beds, reading a chapter of a book by C S Lewis or Raold Dahl. Then the lights would go out and I would tell a story in the quiet intimacy of the darkness. I learned later in schools that few children – and very few boys – could recall an experience like this when they had their father’s undivided attention and shared something so precious. Such an experience costs nothing but it delivers a richness that is priceless. There’s something about the magic of the story in the darkness, in the physical intimacy of the proximity that touches us at the heart of our being.
Most of these stories began in the same way: not as stories to be read but tales to be shared in the darkness. As you will find, I have borrowed from other story tellers. The villain of many of these stories is Dudley Dursley, that wonderful creation of J K Rowling whom every child has encountered in one form or another. I don’t own Dudley and I hope that Ms Rowling will forgive my using some of her universe in mine. Sherlock Holmes also makes an appearance here with all the iconography which attends him.
In my defence, I can claim that I am consciously working in a Post Modern syntax, using a literary style that is sometimes called bricolage: at least, that’s the term used by Claude Levi-Strauss. In colloquial French, the bricoleur is the handyman or “do it yourself” man who works in an unstructured, almost naive way. Another meaning, I believe, is even closer to the mark, in that of beachcomber. Like the beachcomber, the bricoleur artist collects things – often things that appear to have little relationship to one another. These disparate things are assembled in a way such that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s a fascinating idea and if any reader is interested, they might start with one of the simpler stories [such as the first Pirate story] and trawl through the various pieces: a bit of Worzle Gummidge here, a fragment of a Disney movie there, a character from a BBC children’s cartoon and even bits of the evening news bulletin. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether the whole truly does amount to more.
I hope you enjoy reading the stories. Grandparents, I hope that you enjoy making them distinctly yours and sharing them with your own grandchildren.