Thursday, 4 October 2007


It's the kiddie RSPB meeting. And at three o'clock this afternoon Shark informs me that for the evening meeting everyone must take along an albatross that can fly.

Never sure about these things I ask Shark if it has to be a real albatross, perhaps with a bandage round its beak. 'No' says Shark. 'We have to make it. And we can make it of anything we like. And mummys are not to help.'

Damn. When it comes to showing off with art and design, I have always considered this My Job.

But for the next hour, Grit is banned from the schoolroom, pacing up and down the kitchen, tetchily worrying that to make albatrosses that can fly, it ought to be at least life sized and be a proper smart design based on proper paper aircraft technology. And really, they deserve to have a Chief Designer who can boss everyone about and tell everyone what to do. That's My Job, obviously.

Well two hours pass before I get to look. And quite frankly what I see is a total mess.

Tiger's albatross is a film canister previously used as a rocket at the space centre. Tsk. She's strapped paper wings and a beak to it. Shark composes hers of straw and cotton wool. It looks nothing like an albatross. It looks like a lump of cotton wool with some straws skewered through it. Then Squirrel shows me hers. And I think, Is that it? Two hours design work for this?

It is a pencil that has triangles glued onto the side. This flies if you throw it across the room with force. She looks like someone throwing a pencil across the room, and I have to say 'Well done! If I didn't know any better I'd say an albatross just flew through the house!'

Then there's a demonstration of all the rag-bag of designs that apparently didn't make the grade. Bits of pipe cleaner attached to lumps of foam; a roughly hewn lump of fabric with a deflated balloon stapled to it; a pair of scissors that get confiscated pretty sharpish; a glittery ball of wool in an egg carton. None of them fly. They are all hurled with great force. Honestly, if I'd known about this project at the beginning of the week I'd have intervened properly and been Chief Designer and made a proper paper albatross and we would have studied aerodynamics and everything. That way I could have shown off properly tonight and smugly nodded 'home educated' to everyone who gawped in wonder at our amazing design made from special aerodynamic paper.

But it is not to be. Dig takes them to the kiddie RSPB while I hide in shame at home. He is not impressed either with the collection he's carrying and says why don't you strap some wings to a house brick and chuck that in the direction of Pied Wagtail? Let's see how fast he can move when he sees that special little albatross coming at him.

And it gets worse. As they're leaving Squirrel tells me it's a competition and everyone's going to see how far their design goes. And the winner might get a cuddly albatross. As they depart I can only shake my head. They are not only going to lose, they are going to lose with ignominy. If only they had let the Chief Designer take control.

And blow me down. When they come tumbling back in at 9 o'clock tonight everyone is flushed and chattering excitedly. Apparently Tiger's albatross flew furthest. Until the very last albatross thrower, who beat her by a centimetre.

And the Chief Designer tenders her resignation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He, He, He. Bet they could have sniffed a chief designer out too easily! Good self-control on your part! I find that tough too, but then I just get told straight by my 7 year old DD ... to but out, or have to watch her glaze over (if she is feeling more passive about it).

I usually find she has just different ideas rather than better or worse ones (despite my own arrogance. You've got to laugh at yourself huh! LOL!)

Wonder if they have a kiddie RSPB round our way?