Monday, 31 October 2011

Nine items or fewer

Hello, this is a post about the top five things my Dad taught me. It is inspired by a mixture of a postcard from @chops_top_fives, not wanting to do my finances, and that my dad is amazing for bringing over my spare keys and letting me into my house after I locked myself out. Also it was his birthday on Saturday.So here we are then. Five things my Dad taught me:
1. Grammar n words n that. My Dad is quite big on saying things properly. If you let a 'should of' out when you ought to have said 'should have' you'd know about it. If you start a sentence with 'erm..' he'll say 'erm' back at you until you've forgotten what it was you were talking about. We have nice long conversations about what exactly a word means, the earliest of which I can remember was about the difference between imply and infer. My favourite of my Dad's pet hates is his insistence that you shouldn't describe someone as 'my friend' but rather 'a friend' in case it sounds like you only have one.
2. Funny stuff. I have quite a similar sense of humour to my Pa possibly starting from when my mum would go out to her art course and I would get out of bed after she'd left and watch Blackadder with my dad. We watched lots of Young Ones, Red Dwarf, Monty Python, Porridge and Reggie Perrin (I didn't understand why he liked Have I Got News For You until I was a bit older). Everytime I start a conversation with "I was reading this book" (happens quite a lot) he asks me if it was green.

3. Cooking. He showed me when to put the butter into scrambled egg for optimum deliciousness. I can't tell you because then making amazing scrambled eggs won't be my special move anymore. I can't cook much else very well but then neither can he.
4. Music. My Dad used to play Here Comes The Sun on his guitar while we were going to sleep. He also had a nice big record collection full of Bob Dylan, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Fairport Convention and also a few morris dancing albums. Then tapes and CDs came along and we listened to a lot more Chris Rea on long car journeys but I've forgiven him for that. He got my sister and I a record of 'nursery rhymes' sung by Tim Hart and Friends of which only a couple of songs weren't about murder and death - now I like listening to the Decemberists and Nick Cave which may or may not be totally linked.
5. Books. My Dad read to me every night, doing the voices and everything. Most of my favourite books are ones that I read with my Dad - all the Roald Dahls, The Mouse and The Motorcycle, Topsy and Tim, Pepper, Little Grey Rabbit, Ernest and Celestine. Then I studied children's literature and now I work in the library I THINK WE KNOW WHERE THAT CAME FROM.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

"No, I don't have many visitors..."

Today I have been thinking about Jan Pienkowski. I saw a book of fairy tales illustrated by him in Borders a few years ago and thought his pictures were incredible - you can see why, I hope:

What I didn't remember, until I looked him up online to find out more about him, is that he is also responsible for a few books that had quite a big effect on me as a child - firstly the Meg and Mog books. I can't think of anyone who read these as a child who doesn't have fond memories of them. I particularly liked owl.

But the most important book he designed, according to 5 year old me at any rate, was the Haunted House. It was my first introduction to the flying ducks on the wall thing that I've had a thing for ever since.

But the whole book is incredible, interactive, atmospheric, detailed, and terrifying. This book had me scared of the toilet long before I'd seen the Tooms episodes of the X-files.

But the creepiest thing about it is the abandonment of it. There are hot cups of tea still waiting to be drunk but no sign of any people. You are shown round by the owner of the house but it's unclear if they are the mad one or if perhaps it's you.

Looking at the pictures of it for the first time in years gives me the same sense of dread as when the vermicious knids appear in the lifts of the space station in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Arghhhh! Nightmares tonight.

Although.. go to his website - totally adorable.

Also, I found this on the guardian website - My space - and I think I love him a little bit more.