Thursday, 4 June 2009

Actually, Rats and Writing

I have to recount a little tale that has, as its central character, not Maya. Not even Lily. No, a rat. This is, however, Maya's tale too as it affects my sanity...which of course affects Maya! To understand why Andy and I have slight phobias of rats these days, scan down to the From Rainforest Retreat... entry. So, what happened was that the other night, I got back from my evening yoga class and tapped on the door for Andy to let me in. I was greeted by one of Andy's eyes peering suspiciously through the barely opened door, then he grabbed me, pulled me in and shut the door firmly. Odd behaviour I thought, but then he told me what had happened just five minutes previously. He'd heard scratching at the door and, thinking it was me, had opened it to find not his wife but an enormous rat sitting on the doorstep asking to be let in.

I just cannot believe it. I thought we'd left the rats behind in the rainforest but for some reason rats really, really like us. I have no idea what we've done to deserve this honour. Perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh on the poor creatures just because they are traditionally abhorred but frankly, I wish they'd go and crawl over someone else's feet and knock on someone else's door. And before you think it must be that we're filthy creatures ourselves and the rats are trying to get in to eat the crumbs of cake left everywhere, remember that Deepa the star comes six mornings a week for goodness sake to clean. So no, our apartment is not dirty. I wish they didn't, but rats just love us. Opening the front door has never been the same since and we are no longer the English family, we are the Paranoid family.

On another note, some of you may have heard of the children's book series Charlie and Lola. If you don't have children, there's no reason why you would have done (I'd certainly not heard of them till about a year ago) but if you do, I imagine you've come across them in your childrens book and tv travels. Charlie is Lola's brother and he narrates the events of his amusing little sister's life whilst they romp their way through landscapes consisting of fairy cake mountains and
dance on the wings of butterflies. I must confess I'm quite taken with Charlie and Lola. Unlike several of the book/TV series aimes at kids which are sheer and utter gobbledeygook nonsense, Charlie and Lola are, in my opinion, genuinely funny and thought-provoking. But anyway, the reason I bring them up is because Lola uses a lot of words like extremely, absolutely and actually. Maya is at the age where new words are spewing out of her at the rate of knots and she is delighted to discover these lovely-sounding, long words. In the past couple of weeks since her Charlie and Lola infatuation began, many of her sentences have run something like this:

Actually, I'm not feeling well


Actually, can I do a puzzle?


Actually, is it lunchtime?

I read recently that between the ages of one and three (which Maya is fast leaving), the average number of words a parent addresses directly to their child varies from 600 to 2,000. So of course it goes to follow that the more words they hear, the more they'll digest and store up for later on. So for older children above 3, this number logically increases but often doesn't as parents feel their children won't understand what they're saying. But time and again, I am amazed at the words Maya comes out with, remembering that I'd used it a few times whilst reading her a book several months ago. So it's never too young to wallow in the glories of the English language. Not that actually is one of our language's finer words but hey, it's a start and I'm so excited for her to explore the magical world or words in the years to come.

Speaking of words, since my blunt literary agent rebuffal last week, I must admit my novel is now in hiatus. As Lola would say, I am absolutely going to continue with it, but I'm just pausing for a while for reflection. At the same time, in my grabbed hours here and there, I've also been working on a few other bits and bobs and it's not all bad because in the past week I've had a couple of achievements: an article I've written on dealing with insomnia (the subject I most love to hate) is going to be published in The Green Parent later this year and a short story called Honeysuckle, loosely based on my grandparents, is going in to a free London underground creative arts magazine called Notes from the Underground. I also have a short story called Nur's Ark (with the unlikely setting of a Middle Eastern zoo) being published in an Oakland based magazine called Monday Night. So while there's no joy on the novel front, there's much to be positive about.

ps - I know this photo above is a bit random but I thought it was lovely and colourful. I came across this small Hindu offering shrine whilst on a walk.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, well done for getting on with other projects and having so much success. Always the best option. And compensates a little for rat problems.