Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Bedtime Story (27/6/2018)

I am the granddaughter of a Greek Cypriot immigrant to this country.  I am enormously proud of my mixed heritage and of the contribution my much-loved Paps made to Britain.  If there is one thing I think it is utterly vital to uphold, it is acceptance of the multicultural society we live in.  It is with that in mind, that I present you with this week's bedtime story.

Feel free to listen to me reading this week's story, by clicking here.

All The People In My Street

All of the people in my street,
Are the nicest folk you'll ever meet.
They don't all look or sound like me,
But there's nowhere else I'd want to be.

There's David, who drives a red Ferrari,
And Nisha, who's so pretty in her sari.
Old Mrs Peak lives alone with her cat,
But Sam next door lives with a guy called Matt.

Mr Shah's beard is ever so long.
Shanise teaches me Jamaican songs.
Shayla wears a scarf over her head.
Jakob bakes us Polish bread.

Some live in couples and some live alone,
But inside each house is a cosy home,
Where just like me, people live, laugh and love,
Regardless of which God they believe is above.

Some people are rich, others don't have much money,
But here's a fact I find ever so funny:
No matter their skin colour or family name,
Deep down, the folk on my street are all the same...

We all love our families as well as our friends.
We all fall asleep, when a busy day ends.
We all need to eat and drink to live,
And all of us each has something to give.

We learn from each other every day,
We listen to what everyone has to say.
We comfort each other, when someone is sad.
And when things go right, we all feel glad. 

Just because someone is different to you,
There's still a fact that will always be true:
We're all just people, living in the world,
Whether brown or white skinned, whether boy or girl.

Whatever someone believes, whoever they love,
They can all be happy, they can all find things tough.
Sometimes I think life would be ever so sweet,
If we could treat the whole world, like the friends on my street.


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Bedtime Story (20/6/2018)

I desperately need new bedroom curtains.  This has made me realise I'd actually like to re-paint my bedroom walls and that, in turn, inspired this week's story!

Annoyingly, I won't be painting my room any time soon - I haven't the time or the finances - but I have recorded this bedtime story for you to listen to as a podcast!

"What Colour Shall I Paint My Room?"

Maisie was very excited.  Now that her older sister had been given a bedroom of her own, it meant that Maisie had their old room all to herself.  Mum had promised her she could decorate it and today, they were off to the shops to buy paint.

The trouble was, Maisie wasn't exactly sure which colour she wanted to paint her room, yet.  Her sister, Sophia, had painted hers turquoise, which all cream furniture.  It was very pretty, but Maisie wanted her room to look different.

As they entered the DIY store, Maisie gasped at the shelves, piled high with tins of paint in all the colours of the rainbow.  "So," Mum said.  "What colour shall we paint your room?"

Maisie thought for a second.  "Green!"  She exclaimed.  "Just like the trees and the fields, outside.  I like green.  It'll make me feel like my room is in a forest!"

Mum headed to the selection of green paint.  "Which shade?"  She asked.

Maisie wrinkled her nose.  "Well, not that one," she said, pointing.  "That looks like something that comes out when you sneeze."

Sophia pulled a face.  "Charming!  What about this one?"

But Maisie wasn't keen on that shade, either.  She frowned at her sister.  "What colour shall I paint my room?"

Sophia shrugged.  "What other colours do you like?"

"Blue!"  Maisie grinned.  "Then my walls will be the colour of the sky.  And if it's rainy outside, I'll still have pretty blue in my room."

They headed to the selection of blue paints.

"Oh!"  Maisie gasped.  "But my bed covers are pink.  Does that go with blue walls, do you think?"

"I'm sure it will..." Mum began, but Maisie had already darted off to look at the pink paint selection, instead.

However, by the time Mum and Sophia caught up with her, Maisie had come up with another problem.  "Pink bedcovers and pink walls...  Isn't that too much pink?!  Perhaps I should go for purple, instead?"

And before anyone could say a word, Maisie had rushed off, again.

For what felt like ages, Maisie dashed from colour to colour.  She chose everything from red to grey, yellow to black.  But she still couldn't fully make up her mind.

"I really want to decorate my bedroom,"  Maisie sniffed.  "But I can't choose.  I like all the colours."

Sophia held up a mini pot of paint.  "Why don't we get a few of these and you can paint a little bit on the walls and see which you like best, once the patches are dry?"

Maisie frowned.  "But my walls are that strange, peachy colour.  The new colours might not show up, properly.  Maybe I need to paint my walls white first and then..."  Her words trailed off and her eyes widened.  "Mum!"  She gasped.  "I'll paint my walls white!"

"Okay..."  Mum said, slowly.  "But... I thought you liked all the colours?  White's a bit... Plain."

"But what if we got some of those mini pots of paint?"  Maisie beamed.  "Then I could paint a rainbow on one of the walls!  I'd have all the colours and I wouldn't have to choose!"

Mum paused for a moment, looking like she might say no.  But it was obvious Maisie's mind was made up.  She smiled and slowly nodded her head.  "Well, I guess we're going home to paint your walls white, then.  And when the paint's dry... We'll give you a rainbow, too."

Maisie was thrilled.  She darted around the shop, collecting the mini pots of colour, as Mum added two tins of white paint to her basket.

When they arrived home, Dad was waiting.  "I've moved all the furniture and put down some sheets, so we don't get paint on the carpet," he told them.  "What colour did you choose, Maisie?"

Maisie grinned.  "All of them!"

And before Dad could say anything else, Maisie had rushed upstairs, to plan exactly where her rainbow was going to go.


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Bedtime Story (13/6/2018)

Sometimes, we get opportunities to push ourselves out of our comfort zones.  I've had such an opportunity, recently and I'll be trying something new, soon.  I'm nervous, but excited!  This story is dedicated to everyone who has ever braved stepping into the spotlight, in whatever way they did it!

You can listen to the podcast version by clicking here.

Gilbert, Guitar Hero!

The first thing Gilbert did every morning was reach for his guitar.  Nothing made him happier than strumming the strings, humming along and, when he was feeling really adventurous, playing some funky riffs.  

Playing the guitar made Gilbert happy.  It made him relaxed.  It helped him to let out any anger or sadness he was feeling.  There was nothing in the world he'd rather do.

So, when his Miss Mitchell informed Class 4 that they'd been chosen to put on a special assembly on Friday of that week, it was no surprise that she turned straight to Gilbert and asked him if he would play his guitar up on stage, in front of the whole school.  Gilbert was thrilled!  But Miss Mitchell wasn't quite finished, yet.  "We all know Harry and James are learning the guitar as well," she told the class.  "So, Gilbert, I'd love you to teach them the chords to the song we'll be performing.  You'll be our lead guitarist, so it'll be up to you to help keep rhythm all the way through, before breaking out into a solo."

Miss Mitchell carried on talking for a while, but Gilbert wasn't entirely listening, anymore.  She said something about Jessie singing lead vocals, because she'd been having singing lessons and she nodded over at Gilbert and reminded him again that he'd be in charge of keeping rhythm, since they didn't have a proper drummer.  The rest of the class would be given shakers and bongos etc, but they'd be following the rhythm Gilbert had to keep to.

At first, Gilbert could hardly wait!  He loved playing his guitar and rhythm guitar was pretty easy for him; all he had to do was keep time and play the right chords, after all.  He was really excited to practise with Harry and James, too.

But, as the week went on, Gilbert started to realise how important his role was.  Harry and James were looking to him to show them what to do.  If he played the wrong chord, they played the wrong chord.  And if he lost his rhythm, the whole song either slowed down or sped up and poor Jessie was left having to sing slower or faster, to try to catch up, again.

The rest of the class had taken to referring to Gilbert as "the band leader."  He had to count everyone in, at the start of their performance.  He was so focused on making sure everyone started at the right time and stayed at the right pace, he hadn't even thought about his guitar solo.  He was starting to worry that he wouldn't have long enough to practise it, before the big day arrived.

The night before the special assembly, Gilbert lay in bed, worrying.  What if he wasn't up to the job of leading the class band?  What if he made a mistake and it caused everyone else to go wrong?! 

He climbed out of bed and grabbed his guitar.  Humming the song to himself, he tried to come up with a solo, but it was no use.  His fingers merely fumbled with the strings and nothing good happened.

The following morning, Gilbert was exhausted.  He almost felt like "accidentally" leaving his guitar at home, so he wouldn't have to play.  The weight of the world lay upon his young shoulders as he trudged towards school.

Finally, the moment arrived.  The whole school filed into the hall, as Gilbert and the rest of Class 4 sat on the stage, watching.  Gilbert's heart was in his mouth.  He was in charge.  He had to keep everyone at the right rhythm.  And what about his solo?!  He didn't even have one...

Before Gilbert could think of the worst things that could go wrong, Miss Mitchell was on her feet, introducing the class band.  All of the watching teachers and pupils were clapping their hands.  This was it...

Gilbert rose, a little unsteadily, to his feet.  He cleared his throat and counted, in a slightly shaky voice: "One, two, one, two, three, four!"

Harry and James started playing along with him at just the right time.  The rest of the class began shaking shakers and beating bongos, in time with the guitars.  Lily Metcalfe started playing the keyboards, just as Gilbert nodded his head at her.  And, with perfect timing, Gilbert nodded at Jessie and she started to sing.

Gilbert could hardly believe it was all going so well.  He'd gotten everyone into the right rhythm!  They were keeping time and getting everything right!  Gilbert had never thought he was good enough to be a leader, but for a brief moment, he felt on top of the world.  Then, he remembered... His solo!

The moment was getting ever closer and Gilbert didn't know what was going to happen.  He hadn't had much chance to practise and every time he had, he'd failed to come up with anything good.  Gilbert started to panic that he was going to make a fool of himself, in front of the whole school...

He started counting backwards in his head.  He knew the solo was coming up and he didn't have a clue what was he was going to play.  But he didn't have any time left to wonder!  Three, two one...

Gilbert's fingers began dancing along the fretboard, pinching the strings at just the right moments.  The sound that blasted through the school hall was incredible - Gilbert couldn't believe it was coming from him!  He suddenly didn't have to think about anything; the music flowed through his veins and seemed to be guiding him, somehow.

By the time the solo was over and Jessie had begun to sing again, everyone in the hall was on their feet, cheering.

From that day on, Gilbert was known as Gilbert, Guitar Hero!  Of course, he was much too humble to use that name himself, but he secretly loved other people saying it.  Gilbert had learned that he could be a leader, if he wanted to be.  He soon joined the school band and loved taking charge of songs, whenever he was allowed to.

But for all the praise and all the excitement, Gilbert was still happiest, up in his room by himself, playing his guitar, humming along and forgetting the world for a while.


Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Bedtime Story (6/6/2018)

Quite often, the children I teach in my day job seem to wish their lives away, wanting to be older.  And yet, once you reach my age, you're more often than not wishing you could be younger again!  So, here's a story all about cherishing the age you are, right now.

You can also listen to this story as a podcast.

"I Wish I Was Older"

I wish I was older,
Like my big brother, Jack.
He leaves the house,
With a bag on his back,
And he heads to the park
With just his best mate -
No Mum or Dad needed,
And they stay out 'til late.

He's allowed out to play.
He's even allowed to the shops!
I have to have a parent with me,
Who decides when my fun stops.
I wish I was older,
So I could go out alone,
Wearing a cool watch like Jack's,
To check when it's time to go home.

I wish I was older,
Like my big brother, Jack.
He's got the height and coolness
That I seem to lack.
He gets to stay up later,
Whilst I go off to bed.
He knows all the answers
To the questions in my head.

He gets to go to the big school,
Where he has to wear a tie.
He shouts hello to the teenagers
As they go strutting by.
He even has a mobile phone
He can use to call his friends.
It must be great being Jack.
I bet the fun just never ends!

I wish I was older,
Like my big brother, Jack.
He can run laps of the park;
He goes whizzing round the track.
He's stronger and he's taller
And he's cleverer than me.
He's so grown up, I envy him;
That's what I long to be!

But then again, my brother
Gets more tired than I do.
The other day he said:
"I wish I had the energy you do!"
He gets a lot of homework,
which sounds pretty boring.
Sometimes he's still working,
Whilst I'm tucked in bed and snoring.

And Jack has lots of teachers,
Whereas I have just the one.
Jack doesn't like all of them,
Which can't make lessons fun.
And Jack seems to get worried
About whether he's cool enough.
I don't really think about
That kind of teenage stuff.

Besides, having Mum around
When I go to the park,
Isn't all that bad, really.
Mum always makes me laugh!
And Dad says being younger
Means I get away with things.
Being older means accepting
The responsibility that brings.

So, maybe it's okay
That I'm not older like Jack.
It'll happen before I know it,
Then I'll want to look back
At all the things I used to do,
When I was just a kid.
I'll smile and laugh as I remember
All the things I did.

But I get to do those things NOW;
Be young and silly and free.
I don't have responsibilities
Or worries niggling me.
Being older does look cool, but I mustn't forget 
That being a kid is loads of fun,
I won't grow up just yet!


Monday, 4 June 2018

Personality Doppelgängers!

Around 15 years ago, I befriended a girl.  We were both into the same band, we had a similar outlook on life and we were close in age.  We hit it off straight away and, over the next 13-14 years, we were exceptionally good friends.  She was quiet and thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate - she had a sort of gentle way, about her.  And yet, she could also be feisty; passionately defending what she believed in and enjoying an intellectual debate.  For the entire duration of our friendship, I adored her.  Despite the fact that she's no longer in my life, I still think of her with enormous fondness.

Around six months ago, I met another young woman.  She was quiet and thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate - she had a sort of gentle way, about her...  For a long time, I simply couldn't put two and two together.  All I knew was that I really liked this person.  We didn't instantly become super close, as I had with my old friend (although we do get on well), but there was something about her that I couldn't put my finger on.  The way she carried herself.  The way she spoke.  It niggled away at me.  I had a huge soft spot for her, despite us not really knowing one another that well.  But why?!

And then, all of a sudden, it hit me.  This new person didn't look like my old friend (although they dress similarly).  But personality-wise?  She was her doppelgänger.

Despite the fact that I didn't know this person anywhere near as well as I'd known my old friend, my brain had obviously recognised enough about her to remind me of someone I'd loved a lot, and that was why I felt so drawn to her.  Obviously, this person is lovely in her own right, too, and it would be wrong to reduce her qualities down to merely "she reminds me of someone else."  So, once I'd made the realisation, I didn't dwell on it too much, in terms of the people involved.  But the concept was one I couldn't stop thinking about.

When someone has been special to us, do we remember the reasons we cared about them so much and, when we see those qualities in someone else, find ourselves drawn to that person, even if entirely on a subconscious level?  It would certainly seem so.

The more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make.  After all, when people are looking for a romantic partner, they often say they have a type.  Whilst that frequently refers to looks, it can also incorporate personality traits someone finds attractive - a good sense of humour, or a certain level of intelligence, for example.  If we openly acknowledge that we appreciate those characteristics, then it's no surprise that when we find someone who encompasses them, we're going to feel drawn to other people very much like them.

But what of actual personality doppelgängers, where a person doesn't just share one or two traits in common with someone else you know (or knew), but seems to give off the exact same vibe as they do (or did)?  We've all heard the theory that everyone has a double out there, somewhere, but do we all have a personality double, as well as a physical one?!

Talking about this idea to people in the last two or three days has led to some interesting revelations.  More than one person said they'd suddenly realised that they'd subconsciously been drawn to and subsequently befriended someone, because that person reminded them of someone else - either someone not in their life anymore, or someone they don't see as much of as they'd like.  Once they'd recognised the similarities, they couldn't believe they hadn't spotted them straight away.  

Of course, personality traits are much more generic than looks.  You're much more likely to find two people who like dark humour and enjoy sci fi, for argument's sake, than you are to find two people with a mole in the exact same place on their face and perfectly identical noses or mouths.

But in my case, the personality doppelgänger of my former friend doesn't just share a personality trait or two.  It's the whole vibe she gives off.  Her presence feels exactly the same.  I've never come across that, before.  Maybe I never will, again.

I'm really curious as to what other people think, on this subject.  It's one I'm probably going to continue to think about, for a while.  

Who knows, one day I might mean my own personality doppelgänger?!  I hope I like her, or that'll just be awkward...