During an episode of Coronation Street this week someone asked Roy Cropper his plans for the evening. He replied that he hoped to retire early to ‘wrestle with a weighty Trollope.’ I’ve been wrestling with a hefty biography of Dickens for 3 weeks now. A mature, bearded Dickens stares out from the cover, challenging me to get through it. Jocasta taps the cover every time I pick it up to read:
‘Is that your book about the ‘old-fashioned man’?’
‘Did he die?’
I was reading a section about the writer’s London office near Covent Garden. It was essentially a very comfortable bachelor flat with a token desk and I began to feel envy course through my veins. Aurora now wanted my attention. She didn’t tap, she knocked on the book cover – as though she were rapping on a tiny door.
‘Daddy! Come upstairs - I’ve made a special secret world for you.’
I was intrigued enough to follow her. As I went into her room, the ‘Little Angel’ plaque on her door rattled annoyingly, as it always does. Using a mixture of Lego, Barbie accessories, folded paper and doll's house figures, my daughter had created my ‘special secret world’.
‘I thought you were up here making a Nativity Scene.’
‘I changed my mind’, she beamed.
‘Anyway Casta put Baby Jesus in her pants and I didn’t want it back.’
Aurora talked me through her vision.
‘It’s you, Daddy, in your special room.’
I got down to floor level and looked closely. A doll's house 'grandfather' figure sat on a pink plastic (Barbie) chair:
‘That’s you Daddy.’
On a miniature table (Lego) beside ‘me’ sat a tiny book and a cup and saucer (all from the doll’s house).
‘That’s your book about the old-fashioned man.’
I was touched by the thoughtfulness, the attention to detail, the recognition of my simple needs. I wasn’t so touched by the use of the grandfather figure.
‘So, darling, I’m guessing that you had to use the 'grandad' because Casta put the 'daddy' figure in her pants and you didn’t want it back……’