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Friday, November 21, 2014

Holly's Story

Last night I was invited to a Dads and Daughters event where we considered the inspiration we got from our parents.  It made me think of the inspiration that I had been given by my daughters.  We were quite a literary household and reading and writing was an important aspect of what we did.  We wrote stories and letters to each other.  We read aloud and shared each other's writing.  Reading and writing was fun.  Some of the lessons I learnt at that time were through story-telling.  I learnt the importance of repetition and having repeatable tropes throughout.  But I also learned how to listen  and to adapt  the narrative to the listener.  The greatest lesson was that of co-operative story telling.  You can soon exhaust all your own ideas and the best way forward is to use the imagination of the listener:  "What do you think is round that corner?"  "What's that noise you can hear?"  and so on.  The story grows between you. Here is a story that Holly and I collaborated on when she was about three.

Holly lived in a tree in the park.  All day long she would hide there and drop sharp, prickly leaves down the neck of anyone who stopped to rest on the bench under the tree.
“Horrid Holly” they would say.“Hurtful Holly” and they would look up very sharply cramming their hats on their heads.  But they could never quite catch a glimpse of her.
Holly hissed with laughter.  She hooted with laughter.  She whooped with laughter.  But noone quite caught sight of her.

Sometimes she would lie still till all the sparrows and starlings had come out to sunbathe on the branches then she would rustle the twigs, rattle the branches and rock the boughs until the birds were  hooched  out into the air their feathers  and pride all ruffled.
“Horrid Holly. Hateful Holly.” and Holly hollered with laughter.  She howled wih laughter.But Holly wasn’t really horrid or hateful or hurtful.  She was just high spirited and hearty and she was just waiting for everyone to go home.  Tonight was a time for hanky panky.

She knew where the roses stood stiffly in their beds.  She knew where all the crisp packets huddled under the bushes.  She knew where the hedgehogs lay hunched up under the dead leaves.  She knew all about the haughty spikes on the park railings.   And she knew would make some hocus pocus.
When the gates banged shut at eight o’clock and the sun had lumbered into bed under his red silk sheets Holly scrambled down the tree and scampered across the grass turning catherine wheels of delight.  It was her park now.  Now for a high old time.

The silvery moon shone a path across the grass.  Holly bounced into the rose beds and danced the roses harum scarum out into the mooonlight. “Humph” they said. Their fingers were stiff and rheumaticcy but Holly hauled them round and round till they remembered how to do the paul jones and the Tango.  Then she dived into the beds of dead leaves and hurled out the hedgehogs to dance the Valeta and the pasa doble.  She harrassed the broken bottles and the crisp packets into the bandstand with the railing spikes and a fine old harmony they made.

All night long went the dancing; the Westminster waltz and the mazurka and the park was filled with the whoops and hollers and huzzahs. What a hullabaloo until suddenly Holly said “Hush.  The moon’s going down.  It’s nearly dawn.”  And everything heaved a heartfelt sigh hopped back to its place.
And hot but happy Holly sat in the paddling pool and poured water over her head until her hair was plastered down flat.  She hopped back to her tree and fell asleep just as the park gates banged open again.  People sitting on the bench under her tree were surprised when no prickles fell down their necks.  They took off their hats to enjoy the heat of the sun.

And Holly hugged herself with happiness as she snored.

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