Brilliant, engrossing, and in places extremely moving on treating London primary school children to the great outdoors made by Lotte Davies and posted on Vimeo by Jack Sloan from Hanover Primary School.
Best quote comes from the boy explaining what he enjoyed the most: “chopping wood – like with an axe and saws – ‘cos you don’t really get to do much of that in London…”
Child K gets up early each weekday to cycle to school through the South London traffic. It was a shock to see her back in regulation uniform again after the holiday break, but a bigger shock when she turned around to leave for school and revealed these gaping holes in her stockings.
Back in the fifties Mum used to wear nylons and would be furious whenever she discovered a ladder in them. But frankly – having left home at sixteen to go and live in an all male community – my subsequent experience of feminine garments has been fairly limited. It was a further sixteen years before Wife and I met – and she, fine woman that she is, has always tended more towards jeans and T shirts than lingerie and silk stockings.
So I had to ask Child K why there were holes in her stockings and she had to tell me they were tights, not stockings. And I had to ask why they had holes and she told me ALL her tights had holes in them. And then Wife said that was nonsense and our daughter had an entire drawerful of perfectly good tights including some unopened packets which Wife had put there herself, and she was going downstairs to make some breakfast. Child K indignantly denied all of the above, apart from the breakfast, so I said for goodness sake it can’t be rocket science to buy a pair of tights and got out my laptop. And googling “tights” landed me on a new and completely alien planet.
Hold on, what’s a denier I asked. Child K had no idea, so Wikipedia told us that “Denier is a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers, defined as the mass in grams per 9,000 meters” which left us no wiser. So what denier are you, I enquired. No idea. Size? Ditto. Tights, it turns out, are a form of clothing that magically appears in one’s wardrobe after Mum has been Out Shopping. Try Amazon, suggested Child K.
Now Amazon is a fine capitalist institution, no question, but on this occasion it was worse than useless. Searching “tights” brought up 47,704 results. The top two were “Pamela Mann 120 Denier Tights by Pamela Mann” and “Sexy Sheer Suspender Tights Pantyhose. Red, White, Black or Nude. One Size and Plus Size. by Leg Avenue”. The sections “clothing” and “womens” narrowed it down to a mere 2,877 results but – honestly take a look – there was nothing remotely like plain black school tights.
Women’s clothing isn’t just another planet, it’s an entire bewildering universe. Laundry chores in our house were once a simple issue of dividing the items up into Whites Wash, Coloureds Wash and Jeans/Towels wash. But as Child K has slowly grown to an age where she favours lipstick, sleepovers and Rizzle Kicks, the laundry basket has slowly been infiltrated by delicate, diaphonous and utterly alien garments for which I don’t even have a name, let alone washing instructions.
In the end I had to give up and ask Wife who patiently explained that you just buy a three-pack of black tights at the chemist or supermarket. Of course, why didn’t I think of that – any fool knows a pharmacy is the obvious place to buy legwear for your children. Apparently they cost less thana fiver and one size fits all. Late that afternoon I went to Sainsbury’s, who offered only slightly fewer choices than Amazon, came home with six pairs of 40 denier opaque black womens tights and triumphantly put them down beside my daughter.
One of Terry Pratchett’s cast of comic characters from his Discworld novels is The Death Of Rats – a skeletal rodent walking on its hind legs, wearing a black robe, and carrying a tiny scythe. But for us the death of rats is no laughing matter, since Child K has just lost her beloved pet Ruby in a genuine small-scale tragedy.
When Ruby developed a small tumour on her stomach earlier in the year the vet advised against trying to remove it. She was still her active, inquisitive, and friendly self – with no signs of discomfort or lost appetite. And the cancer was so close to her vital organs that an operation would only have had a twenty percent chance of success. Better to let her enjoy a decent quality of life for as long as possible – which she continued to do for many happy months.
Last week however, Child K discovered that the tumour had ulcerated, and Ruby was once more rushed to the vet. At this point the choice was stark – if he did nothing the tumour would burst and Ruby would die from the infection. If he operated, there was still only a twenty percent chance the little creature would survive the anaesthetic and surgery.
First thing Monday morning, before school, my wife and daughter took Ruby in to have the operation. And by afternoon the glad news came through that the operation had been successful. The 5 to 1 gamble had paid off, and the vet advised only that Ruby should stay at the surgery overnight for observation. Much relief and celebration all round… read more