Books family reading World Book Day

World Book Day is on Thursday 4th March

This is a pile of books that I need to read my way through for the Celtic Studies MA I am attempting

It is going to be World Book Day on Thursday and I’ve got a post going on GodSpaceLight which I will post on Thursday but this is a preliminary to remind everyone to be prepared to spend a day immersed in a book to celebrate.

I used to love World Book Day. I say used to because it was something to do with the kids who are now all grown up. Not that my kids ever needed encouraging to read. We spent a lot of time with no TV so once they were old enough they would curl up in a chair and read. In fact my daughter taught herself to read! Yes it is true. In the bedroom her and her brother shared there was an alcove which I had painted as a book cave with a bookshelf on the end wall. It wasn’t big but there was room for a small child to curl up on the floor. She would often be found there at 7am looking through books. One day she told me she could read. Because of where we were living I know she was between 3-4 years old. Because I read to them each night I thought she’d just remembered the words so we walked down to the library – which was one of those lovely old fashioned ones that was in an old Victorian house with bay windows. Not big but the children’s section was adequate. I got her brother to choose a picture book. One that we had not had before. She read it through. He then chose another one and another. Yes she did stumble over words she had not seen before but that child could read.

So even though World Book Day was set up to encourage reluctant readers my two loved it. From HEAS, our home education support group, we would be sent two £1 vouchers. These could be exchanged for the designated World Book of that year, with either a short story by a famous author, or snippets from other books to entice the reader to something new. My two would take their tokens to our local independent bookshop with some pocket money and then spend a good hour working out what they wanted to buy. There was often discussion between the two of them so that what one bought the other could also read. That was until my son got more and more into books about the World Wars or more modern conflicts. I think he still read hers though as she stay mainly into mythologies and he’s always loved those – probably because they have good fight scenes. 🙂

Like I say they are both all grown up. He’s getting married when covid allows. She’s living with us whilst on furlough as our house is warmer than her flat. But this Christmas he bought her a book and for his birthday later this month she’s buying a book for him.

Both do not read as voraciously as they did. My son blames his fixation with Facebook which he has given up for this year – hence the need to have a book! Both of them love to have books around them. My daughter, even though she on such a limited income with furlough, and having to pay for a flat she’s not living in, is still planning to buy some books because she loves to own them. I am much more of a library person and have stacks of books from the library. I even have a dispensation that I can borrow more than the allotted twenty.

So for me World Book day holds those bitter sweet memories that all mother’s have when their children have grown up, were they miss what was but that they can see that they have done something right.


Black History Month

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The month of February has been designated “Black History Month”. As my daughter said it is interesting that Black history only gets 1/13th of the whole year. Yup with February being the shortest month of the year Black history doesn’t even get a 12th of the year! Interesting thought.

I’ve decided I am going to dedicate an hour each afternoon when we get back from walking the dog and before I have to make tea to reading David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History.I have only just got through the Introduction and already there is so much to make me think.

In the Intro David talks his time as a child when he first came to the UK. Yes the abuse him and his family received was horrendous but the bit that made me sit up and take note was when he talks about a girl in his class at primary school bringing in her favourite toy and how it made him feel. That toy was a golliwog. [For those who don’t know this was a black male looking toy with black tight curly hair wearing red trousers] I remember when this campaign began and I must be honest and say that I did not understand what the big deal was. To me it was doll and I did think people were being a bit over the top wanting to ban it. But then I read what David said he felt.

This is what David says “One of the worst moments of my unhappy schooling was when … we were allowed to bring in our favourite toys. The girl who innocently brought her gollywog into our classroom plunged me into a day of humiliation and pain that I still find hard to recall decades later”

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga pxvi

Wow! What it made me think was that I am in no position to decide whether something is offensive or not. I am not in a place where I have ever been abused because of my skin colour. Yes being a woman I have had discrimination because of my sex, but never about the colour of my skin. How on earth can I decide whether something is offensive or not when it doesn’t affect me? I can’t. But too often white, middle class, comfortably off people, make decisions on what is offensive for Black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups. How do I know what it feels like to look at a caricature doll and know how someone else feels?

Paul in one of his letters to the Corinthians says basically if something offends someone don’t do it. He takes an example of the time but it can be said of anything. If that offends that person and I want to treat that person as an equally respected human being then I get rid of the offending thing no matter what I think. It is about loving and respecting the other person.

It would be lovely if Black History month didn’t have to happen and that we all spent the whole year learning about each other. Looking out for each other. Respecting each other. Doing what benefits each other. And to do this we need to truly listen and truly hear what the other person is saying and not put our preconceived ideas in place.

Perhaps next month could be called “Really Truly Listen” Month?

Brigid candlemass Celtic saint Celtic spirituality facts faith hope imbolc Jesus prayer presented at the temple temple truth

Imbolc – 1st February

February 1st-2nd marks a confluence of several feasts and occasions including: the Celtic feast of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, Feast of the Presentation, and Groundhog Day! Of all these things what do we know to be fully true? Or what, like the stories of the Celtic Saints are not meant to be literal or historical, but spiritual, mythical, archetypal, and psychological, resonating with the deepest parts of our souls.

I wonder how often we fight to make things factual. Yes not necessarily “true”, whatever that means, but factual. I know I’ve said it before about someone, and I thought it was CS Lewis but can’t find the actual quote, who says that “the Bible is true” but not factual.

Imbolc is said to be the day when sheep start lambing and when the days start to get noticeably longer; Brigid was allegedly a powerful abbess showing that Celtic Christianity was pro-women; she is also connected with the pantheon of ancient Celtic gods and goddesses; Candlemas is celebrated as the day Jesus was present at the temple in Jerusalem and recognised by Anna and Simeon, yet also within the bible narrative he was in Egypt at this point; and Groundhog day is to do with the shadow of a groundhog and how long winter will last, although we use the meaning for “Groundhog day” more in keeping with Bill Murray’s movie.

But as one thinks over these feasts and occasions with their elements of “truth” we need to realise how much we need them. As women we need a powerful woman, whether saint or goddess, to encourage us as we deal with our homes, our children, partners, and the mundane of life, because no matter how you jazz it up housework, daily feeding of a family, etc are boring and repetitive. But to have a supernatural woman to turn to then it helps.

To have something like groundhog day when, as we step tentatively out of winter and into spring we are reminded that it may either getting better immediately or not. And not just the weather. As we step into another month of the ever extending lockdown here in the UK, I believe, it is good to be able to think that, at the turn of a groundhog’s shadow things could change rapidly or continue for longer. I am wondering if we need to put in some superstition to help us through this lockdown time, something we can turn to that might just help us keep on keeping on? Something that gives us hope but in a “well if it doesn’t happen then it will in time” type of hope.

Hope isn’t instant. Sometimes hope unfurls slowly and only when it has fully come to fruition do we recognise it for what it is. Sometimes what we are hoping for unfurls in a very different way to what we wanted. Which then leads us to Jesus being presented in the Temple and the two old people, who had been waiting their whole lives, recognised him for who he truly was. Factually he was a small baby, child of two not overly well-off parents, but these two old people knew him for what he truly was – the saviour of the world. But the only way they knew was because they had been praying their whole lives. Are we willing to pray our whole lives to see change? To see something amazing unfold?

Even though, as I saw that original sentence on the Abbey of The Arts newsletter I thought the events were unconnected as I have explored through this post I can see that they all fit together like a well-made glove. And this makes me willing to pray for the future. A future I may only glimpse that that will benefit the whole world.