It is no secret that I’m a fan of those pudgy little white things called ‘Moomins’, given that I named my first-born daughter Tove. I’m slightly (only slightly) over the Moomin-esque merchandise that has proliferated in recent years and want to declare my position on the matter: I was into them way before they became, you know, a thing. Just like I wore floaty coats before Boho and collected an excess of emerald green cushions before ‘jewel’ colours started to appear on Houzz…
The fact is, as a child – and my mother will vouch for this – the only book I read for many years, on repeat, like a stuck record, was Tove Jansson’s Comet in Moominland. She tempted me with Blume, Dahl, Clearly, Fine and many other titans of the early 80s children’s book market, but to little effect. Quite simply, I wanted to stay in the valley – with Sniff, Snufkin and Moomintroll and the cave with the oil blanket and the sour muskrat and the Lonely Mountains and the comedic Hemulen and, best of all, the silk monkey. What even is a silk-monkey? I still don’t know, but I love her anyway.
Such a big subject – a comet hurtling towards the world, threatening to destroy everyone and everything – told in Jansson’s strange, smart way, but for me the story comes second to the magic of the place and its characters. The richness of this is helped by the illustrations – Jansson’s own – which were always as endearing to me as the text. Far from mere page decoration, they were instrumental in bringing Moomin Valley to life in my mind, which in turn, helped me stay there. And want to return there. Time and again.
So Comet in Moominland is my #worldbookday read of choice, but I’ll let you into a secret… my daughter, Jansson’s namesake, isn’t keen. She kind of tolerates it (for mummy’s sake), but I think she’d prefer it if I’d called her Joanne 😉
To do a daily craft activity even if glue and glitter is involved
To say an immediate ‘yes’ to requests for cycling/scootering/park/football/swimming
To recognise that two ice lollies and a Baby Bell do not constitute a meal
Ditto Belvita breakfast biscuits
To water the garden as necessary and not just with children’s spontaneous outdoor weeing
To put a stop to said weeing
To enforce the wearing of clothes in public places
On day-trips, to make a *delicious* array of homemade picnic food, rather than resorting to happy meals
If lucky enough to get to go to Westfield at night, to leave overtired, tearful children at home (unlike the rest of Stratford)
To understand that the ‘self-administering’ bedtime routine has it’s limitations
ARGH! Ever had that feeling life is running out of control?
I thought I had the school summer holiday mapped out. A perfect balance of early morning writing (a comfortable 1-1.5k a day), the final tweaks for my forthcoming Early Reader ‘In The Garden’, the edit of a beloved old manuscript, plenty of painting afternoons in my summerhouse studio…all blended with a carousel of day-trips, play-dates and other child-related activities.
So why do those little coloured iCal event boxes refuse to behave? I have spent the last few hours squeezing and nudging and teasing my list of duties, but the sums aren’t working. How do I fit so many words into so few hours and still present as a committed parent? What was it J G Ballard said about ‘the pram in the hall’?
Oh heck. I made so many promises in the first one. Now it feels like I’ve got to deliver. Rather like that awkward second date – the one where you think the guy/girl likes you, possibly enough to marry you. Then you get to the restaurant and realise they aren’t quite as debonair / witty / odourless / wealthy / well-proportioned as you (drunkenly) remembered…
Do you stick or twist? Sticking may lead to wasted time, fake laughter and lengthy monologues about office administration systems (I assure you, there are some BORING PEOPLE out there on the dating circuit…) Twisting is impolite and likely to result in a modicum (albeit small) of guilt.
If you do decide to stick, you avoid the guilt and you may also discover that, after an uncomfortable first hour, you and Mr/Miss/Mrs Boring-Pants have an unexpected rapport after all. And that, in fact, office administration is an underrated and highly fascinating art form. Oh, and you might get drunk sex.
But drunk sex, as any fool knows, always leads to disaster (and sometimes babies).
My advice: choose your second-date wisely and don’t put out until the third 😉
To that end, I think I’ll shelf this tricky second blog right here !