Every year, round about World Book Day, my heart sinks.
Not, I hasten to add before I am thoroughly lambasted by the book-lover-brigade, because of the focus on all things written. No, I am 100% in favour of a Day dedicated to celebrating the written word, having spent a large chunk of my early adolescence upside down on the back seat of a Ford Cortina devouring Agatha Christie. Probably best to keep that story for another light news day.
No, my heart sinks because I know that, with the unfailing inevitability of a moany Monday following a too-late-to-bed Sunday, the boys will skip home from school brandishing ‘The Letter’. ‘The Letter’ which merrily encourages them to ‘dress up as their favourite character from a book’ in return for one shiny pound. And I have no problem with the pound , indeed I would happily part company with a significant amount more if only there wasn’t the ‘creative’ element involved.
The conversation goes something like this:
‘I don’t know who to go as!’ (boy)
‘You’ve read loads of books… which is your favourite?’ (mum)
‘Oh, I don’t know!’ (boy)
‘Well,’ (mum, helpful), ‘why not someone from Starfighters, Famous Five, Harry Potter?’
‘We don’t have any Starfighters’ costumes, no one would recognise the Famous Five and absolutely EVERYONE does Harry Potter!’
‘Well,’ (mum, slightly less helpful), ‘what about Horrid Henry – that could be fun. You could go as Henry and your brother as Perfect Peter!’
‘Horrid Henry is for KS1 mum, not KS2. And anyway, there’s absolutely no way I’m going with HIM!’
‘Ooooh, for goodness sake!’ (mum, thoroughly exasperated and out of ideas) ‘Look, you think about what you want to be and let me know when you’ve decided and we’ll come up with something.’
‘Maybe I won’t bother this year…’ (boy – muttering). ‘Dunno what to go as anyway…’
Morning of World Book Day
‘But I thought you said you weren’t going to dress up this year?’ (mum, one leg in car, one leg out, about to put the key in the ignition to head off for school)
‘I didn’t MEAN it mum… oh, everyone else will be dressing up and I’ll be the only one who isn’t and Miss said there’s a prize for the best costume and I’ll look silly if I don’t….’
(Mum, sounding not unlike Horrid Henry herself): ‘Arggggggghhhhhhh!’
There follows frantic scrabbling in the dressing up box resulting in an odd assortment of tweed caps and recycled Victorian topic garb.
‘Perfect… there you are: Oliver Twist. Now get into the car and LET’S GO!!’
‘Oliver who?’ asks boy, but knows better than to push it. ‘OK…thanks. Er… can I have my pound?’
So this year, I awaited World Book Day with the usual trepidation.
‘Bring a book you’ve enjoyed and finished with into school to swap’ read the instruction on the crumpled letter thrust into my hand. Genius! Fantastic! We can do that! Giddy with relief, I nigh on dance for joy.
But boy proffers another piece of paper.
‘As you may be aware, next Friday is Red Nose Day. The children are invited to… dress up as their favourite character from a book in return for a pound.’