Monday, December 21, 2009


This will probably be my last post before Christmas. The days are full. Too full, actually, but I wouldn't have missed any of it for the world. We put in a bit of an extra effort at this time of year: I've been doing the old "two days work in one" thing, just so people can take a break. Fair enough. I've also been working late, posing as that old fake, Santa, for some evenings our Kidz (hate the "z") team have put together. I am gob-smacked. I know how hard it is to gather an audience, and I was staggered on the first Christmas Storytime,up at Massey Library: 80 kids, with parents. Huge - or so I thougfht. Two days later, in New Lynn - over 200. And the audiences have grown. Huge.

These are kids of all colours, all creeds, all economic groupos, with their parents: ordinary Kiwi families. And their parents, all eager and willing to work hard to see their kids get a love of libraries, and of reaing. The Kid(z) team do some great work. Anyone who can enthuse kids to come along to the library after 6.oopm is obviously doing something particularly marvellous.

Gillian's back in the country: balance has been restored.

Meanwhile, I grow more resigned to the thought that it will be quite a while before I get to see my grand-daughter.

LISTENING TO: Janis Ian, "Between The Lines". Old album. Great album. Great voice, great songwriter. I remember being abused, lo these many years ago, for liking Janis Ian. "You only like her 'cause she's 4 foot 11, and has long hair..." I was told. Yeah. Right.

READING: A WWII spy drama by a chappy who wears the name Keizel. It's good, and I'm too lazy to go and find the book's name, etc.

WORD OF THE DAY: Chocolate Almonds. OK, two words. But they must be an anagram for "Christmas".

Time for...more RATS:

“Hello?” she had called. “Anyone there?”
“In a minute,” called back Arthur. He was in the kitchen, finishing off a slice of bread, generously slathered with bush honey. He rubbed the back of his hand over his sticky mouth, and walked out to the anvil. Jayne had looked at him: a solid looking boy, lazy brown eyes. “You’re not the boss,” she said.
“No, ma’am. Grampa’s out to the Featherstone farm. Anything I can do?” He was eyeing the horse. The animal was huge: she was one of the largest Cydies he’d seen. He glanced at the wagon, where two more Clydesdales and a truly enormous Shire stood, stolidly patient.
“She’s thrown a shoe,” said Jayne Francis, indicating the horse she’d brought to the smithy’s entrance. The boy looked at the horse, then looked at her. He made no comment about her clothing, but took in every detail.
“Yes, ma’am. I can see that,” he replied. “You want to leave her here with me? I’ll bend a new shoe for her – shouldn’t take no more’n a half-hour.”
Jayne Francis had smiled at the boy’s bravado.
“Let’s see you clean up the hoof first.”
“Righto.” He grabbed the file, stuck in into his apron pocket, and walked up to the horse. “What’s her name, ma’am?”
“I’m called Jayne, and the horse is called Bethesda.”
“Ah. After the healing place in the Bible.” The boy walked slowly but confidently up to the great horse, and reached up to fondle her ear. He looked back at the women, and gave her a slow smile. “Now, you’re not to move, ma’am. ‘zat OK?”
She nodded.
“Thankyou, ma’am.” The boy’s smile faded, and he spoke to the horse, calmly. “Well, you’re a big girl now, aren’t you, my love, and no mistake. A big and brave girl. I bet you’re not feeling too comfortable with that hoof of yours, are you?” The horse rolled an eye at him, and he favoured her with his easy smile. The horse shook her great head. He said, “There’s nothing to worry about, lass. Now, I’m going down to take a little look at your hoof, right? And you’ll be good, won’t you, Beth? You’ll be good. You’re a good girl, ain’t you?” His voice was quiet, but carried easily to the woman who watched him, with fascination. Bethesda had never allowed anyone to walk up to her like that; she was shy, and usually wickered away from strangers. The lad’s voice was quiet, and his movements slow and precise. She’d rarely seen anyone display such excellent physical control before, despite her circus history. Every move the boy made was graceful, judged: his hands went thus, his feet moved thusly. He knew precisely where each part of his body was going, and what it needed to do. His left hand never lifted from the horse’s coat. From the ear it stroked down the great neck, onto the Clydesdale’s wither, nearly six feet off the ground, then across the ribs. The boy leaned his head against the horse’s side, and listened a moment. “That’s a good heart you’ve got, Beth, boom-la, boom-la, boom-la.” He kept the quiet chant up for a minute, and Jayne noticed that it slowed perceptibly. The horse stood straight, and quiet. Arthur stood, his left hand remaining on the horse’s flank. “There’s my girl. Well done. Now, Beth: I’ll be wanting to look at your poor sore foot, so I will, so I’d be obliged if you’d lift it for me.” The horse snorted, and lifted her hoof.

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