Saturday, 18 August 2007


The junior Grits are thinking ahead. This is prompted, bizarrely enough, by the summer walk with the parks department, in the drizzly rain and grey, cloudy skies of August.

We get plenty of time to run about and look at the sky and talk to Mothman. In fact, we even get to dictate part of the route, because we're the only ones who turn up. I reckon that everyone else today is only looking at the drizzle.

As we walk, Tiger's not looking too far ahead. About as far as the computer screen to which she is glued, at home, drawing Georgia O'Keeffe style pictures of pink flowers in a red field. They are quite brilliant, and I feel I could put my hand in amongst their shiny petals and shuffle them about, loving the way she has spilled the pink over the pencil lines of the flower. But I'm not saying anything, because I'm still cross with her, the way she's been banned from every other room in the house now thanks to throwing puffins and bouncy balls and making everybody else miserable with snarling and shouting.

So while Tiger's at home, grounded, better occupied in pink flowers, I'm walking with Squirrel and Shark, and Mothman, who patiently waits while we mess about the hedgerows, peering at holes in trees, smiling at snails and bridges, cows and horses, grass and a pin cushion that Mothman says belongs to a robin.

The walk has clearly been an inspiration for Squirrel. When we get home, Squirrel whispers to me that she has a secret, but don't tell anybody, because they might laugh. She wants to work for the parks department. She must have enjoyed herself so much with them over this summer that she's dropped the idea of being a ballerina or an actress. I ask Shark what she wants to do when she's older. She's still torn between being a chef and a marine biologist, and can't decide, but today reckons she can do the marine biology during the day and the cooking at night. Talk of cooking gets her off looking through the recipe books in search of coconut macaroons. Then I ask Tiger what she wants to do, if she can calm down long enough to get there. An artist, answers Tiger. Or an illustrator.

Anyway, the walk in the blowy August wind has obviously fired Squirrel up. After telling me her ambition, she jumps off and immediately sets about designing lampshades.

After a couple of hours, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are all furiously designing table lamps and hanging pendants. By the end of the day they've put together a lighting catalogue and are getting us to choose favourites. My favourite is the cake light. The light shade looks like a cake and there are little fairy lights that come out the top, like a candle explosion. I can't decide between that and the carrot light, which would look whimsical in the kitchen. It's a feathery green shade; the carrot seems to be missing.

I imagine sending the lighting catalogue to Ikea and seeing if we can get a letter back. And then I find Tiger's pictures. She's putting a book together about a humming bird who goes back to the dinosaur age. I think I might nick the plot line and pictures and try and sell it to Penguin. And as for Shark's coconut macaroons, I wonder about being cheeky and sticking one in a presentation box addressed to The Ivy.

Now then, Parks dept., Penguin, Ikea and The Ivy. Don't say you weren't warned.

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