Tag Archives: holiday

Trouble and strife

Trouble and strife.

I am very happily married. Honestly, I’m not just saying it. We still talk to one and other, we enjoy each others company, we laugh and joke (mainly me joking and her laughing, but that suits us both). Life is good. Smug? you bet.

The thing that I have started to notice though is that our relationship has become more and more dependent on the level of knowledge we have about each other. The sayings we now share (no idea who brought which particular saying to the relationship), the short hand or gibberish, the fact that I know she will not be interested in what I am about to tell her, and the fact that I tell her anyway.

The other day I was trying to explain the end of the premier league season to her. To me it was the best final day to a season I had ever witnessed. I started the conversation with “I can’t believe what happened in the football today” silence followed. “I know you don’t care but i’m gonna tell you anyway”

Her: OK, but don’t expect me to remember it.

Me: So basically, It all came down to the last 2 minutes. United thought they had it in the bag as City were drawing. The full time whistle blew at United but City still had 2 extra minutes to play.

Her: OK

Me: So as the seconds ticked by United really thought they had it and in the dying seconds of stoppage time City scored. You should have seen the look on the United players faces

Her: I wonder what time the supermarket closes today.

It’s my own fault for boring her with football, star trek, star wars, star gate, athletics, snooker…you get the picture. The fact is that I think love is letting me ramble on regardless without telling me to shut up.

The other thing is that of the relationship shorthand. Can you pass me the thingy? And in a moment or two it’s in my hands. Did you get the stuff? And usually an affirmitave or negative response follows, but she always knows what I mean. It gets better though. Sometimes I don’t even need to finish what I am saying and she will be able to respond. “Did you…?” “yep”

Some people may find this kind of thing annoying, I find it endearing. I love the fact that whole conversations worth of understanding can pass in just a few words. The best part though is the fact that she knows exactly which part of my back to scratch.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I promise to be less cheesy next week.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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No purchase necessary

It is a question that has plagued man since the 3 meals a day system was introduced. A question which haunts philosophers and scholars. Which, by its very nature, goes to the heart of the human psyche.
Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

Is anything free anymore? And if it is, is it worth having? What is the catch? What way will I pay for it later?
It was iTunes that got me thinking about this. A couple of weeks ago I saw something amazing, I saw a song for free by a band I actually knew. The song was by Soundgarden and was for the new avengers film. The song sucked. I had to go back and listen to some of their earlier stuff afterwards, just to remind myself how good the band were. I started to think about why it was free, was it A) to restart Soundgardens music career B) a publicity stunt to launch the film or C) an altruistic act by the filmmakers, the band and the apple corporation. I’ll leave that judgement in your capable hands.

Is anything in life truly free? Here are my (somewhat silly) ideas on the matter.

1) The freebie. Shopping centres are full of free stuff. I’m not talking about stealing here, more about the stuff they hand out when business is slow. The Nut Hut will give you 2 or 3 free cashews (make sure you get the cashews as they’re worth more), Holland and Barrett will hand out free samples of dried fruit, Cinebon will give you 1/24th of a free donut thing, some coffee or tea shop will let you try a thimble full of their new blend. However, this does not a free lunch make. The only way to get full is to walk past over and over again; wearing various disguises and hoping you don’t get rumbled. I would imagine you’d burn off more calories doing the walking then you would get from the food. Maybe I should send my ideas to weight watchers. I also get a free paper (The Metro). Yes, it is full of adverts and competitions (you know the ones: what is the New York otherwise known as? A) the big apple, B) the big turnip or C) the big pork pie. And it’s only £3 to enter), but its free and I read it. There is a subtle difference between free and my next category.

2) Complimentary things. This is the kind of stuff that the good and honest people who run hotels leave out for you to use on your visit. And what do we do? We stick it in our bags, phone down and ask for more and stick that in our bags too. I have become an expert on what good bath/shower gel is from the level of excitement my wife has when she checks out the bathroom of the hotel we are staying in. There is also the complementary mint or sweet at hotel and business receptions. The problem comes when you are not offered it. This is a problem for me because A) if I’m not offered it, I want it B) will I get told off if I just stick my hand in the jar and C) What if it’s not real food stuffs or really old and sticky? By the way, that fridge in the hotel room, definitely not complementary. And as far from free as you can get.

3) Cumulative free stuff. This is the coffee or restaurant card. I have a few in my wallet in various states of stampedness (I know, not a word) and I have never once redeemed one. It’s that moment where you sit down, and as you rear hits the seat you think ‘coffee card’. As I look at them now, I realise that some are better than others. Wetherspoons only wants me to buy 5 cups, then it’s a free one. The waiting room (small coffee shop on Deptford high street, highly recommended) gives me a coffee and a cake if I get 8, but Benugo want me to buy 10 coffees to get 1 coffee. I suppose they could have no loyalty card at all but that is hardly the point. What is the point? No idea.

4) No purchase necessary. I love the idea of going into a supermarket, finding a packet of something that has a toy or voucher inside and just opening it and taking it. If it says ‘no purchase necessary’ then wouldn’t that be ok? I don’t think the shop would think so.

I do think that there is always a catch, always an ulterior motive. I would love to be proved wrong. Altruism is dead my friends, if in fact it was ever alive. And on that cheery note, enjoy the rest of your weekend. I can’t end like that. Maybe a joke.

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As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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Pregnancy (a manly approach to)

My lovely wife is pregnant. Again. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s funny really as we have been trying for a few months and almost started to panic that it wouldn’t happen. Strange to panic as the average time it takes is about a year (according to Internet sources, not the most reliable I know). It got me thinking about the panic of my younger years, when I found myself in the midst of a birth control ‘malfunction’ and thought I was going to be a dad at 18. The chances, it would seem, were very slim.  I’m not suggesting we throw the pill and condoms out of the window (the pigeons my choke on them for starters), what I am saying is that the chances of my early fatherhood were much less than I thought at the time. I’m still not sure that this information would have calmed me down at the time though. Either way, we have just come back from our 12 week scan and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A very serious, sentimental and shared experience. The problem comes in the form of my brain and the thoughts that go through it. Let me try to explain. 1) The first thing they do is check how many babies my wife is carrying. What if its 2? Or 3? Or more? The logical thoughts on this are a) as long as they are both healthy b) how are we going to afford that and c) wow, that’s gonna hurt. My brain works in a different way. My thoughts were as follows a) I hope it’s a boy and a girl b) at what point do I suggest the names Luke and Leia and c) how can I convince my wife to call them Luke and Leia? Not the kind of thoughts to share at this tender, loving moment. I had a crack at a star wars name with my first born. I suggested Anakin and my wife liked it. She then realised where it came from, and that was the end of that. His middle name is Luke though. By the way, just one baby being carried by the wife. 2) Alien. That film has a lot to answer for. The beautiful symbiosis of mother and unborn child has forever been tainted by things bursting out of bellies. I can remember feeling my son kick for the first time. All I could think was Alien. Another wonderful, loving, sharing, caring moment ruined by my stupid brain. The scan room looks like something out of a science fiction film too, with it’s gel and scanner, flashing computer screen and roll ball mouse thing. Makes it kinda cool though. 3) Boy or girl. I really want to find out the sex. I want to know because I can, science affords me that luxury. I can’t really understand the counter argument of ‘it’s a nice surprise’ All that means to me is that the child spends its first 3 months on this Earth in yellow. No blue, no pink, just yellow. Couple this with the fact that I live in a flat in London, I need the space. Clear out the old stuff if it’s a girl, give it hand me downs if it’s a boy. This is where my brain comes in to play. It would be nice to have another boy as a) it would save me money and b) I wouldn’t have to go shopping for kids clothes as often. I also like the fact that when he grows up, he can’t get knocked up. I would, of course, be happy with either. So, all that’s left now is to explain to my 2 year old son that he will soon be sharing his toys, tell my family the good news and have a beer. That’s why the blog is on Sunday this week. My dad, mum, grandma, nan, sister and boyfriend (my sisters, not mine) are all at my flat (squeezed in amongst the toys) for Sunday lunch, the announcement and celebrations. Hurrah! As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address www.andrewauthor.com

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I don’t like that band but…

I love one of their songs.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about music. I stated that I have got to a point in my life where I have a playlist of a few hours (7 hours, 51 minutes, 27 seconds to be precise) where I love all of the songs. Don’t worry, I wont list them all here. I then realised that the fact that I had such a playlist has coincided with my use of iTunes. In the good old days, when I used to like one song of a band I didn’t really like I wouldn’t bother buying the whole album. But now, I can get whatever songs I like.

So here it is, my list of songs that really make my day. Songs that I never skip on my playlist. Songs that can make me smile. Songs where I don’t really like the band but love one of their creations.

1) Kiss ‘God gave rock ‘n’ roll to you II’
This one I put down to the end of Bill and Teds bogus journey. They go off to write the song that unites mankind. I personally think they pulled it off. I tried looking for this song for ages but was under the false impression it was Z Z Top. I think it was the connection with the beards Bill S Preston esquire and Ted Theodore Logan sported.

2) Ben Harper ‘Walk away’

I had a friend who was effortlessly cool. She was like the person Ben Folds describes in his song ‘Kate’ (When all words fail she speaks. Her mix tape’s a masterpiece). I stole one of those mix tapes and this song was on it. Sorry Sara, I still have it if you want it back.

3) Alice in chains ‘Them bones’

When I was younger I spent a great deal of time round a friends house. There were 2 reasons for this: 1) he was a mate and I enjoyed his company and 2) his parents went out often. We used to get drunk and watch films, usually the same ones over and over. One such film was street fighter 2, the animated movie. It was a manga style film that had a fight scene to the above song. The fight was between Ken and Bison, in case you were interested.

4) Blind melon ‘No rain’

It was covered by a band I saw and fancied the singer. Got a snog off her eventually.

5) Squeeze ‘Tempted’

You will hear me singing this at the top of my lungs if ever you shower with me (offers on a postcard). I think it was in the film Reality bites. Anyway, it’s in my vocal range and I think I sing it amazingly. Not sure my wife agrees.

6) Bon Jovi ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’

I once played on stage with Bon Jovi. Seriously. It wasn’t as cool as it sounds though, I was pretending to play the trumpet. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I used to be in a drum corp (marching band) and we got asked to mime the start to one of his songs. Me and my fellow band mates stood on stage, in front of 60,000 people and faked playing for 30 seconds. Rock and roll baby!

So there you have it, a useless list of songs I like.

Before I sign off this week, yes I have tried the other songs from the bands in question. I just don’t get on with them.
I know some of you will love whole albums and discographies of one or two of the above bands. I also know how frustrating it is when I love an artist and someone says ‘oh yeah, I like one of their songs’. Well, you can take a stand, or you can compromise…

You can work real hard or just fantasize
But you don’t start livin’ till you realize – “I gotta tell ya!”

God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in your soul.

Bet you sang that in your head.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Why are ginger blokes funny?

It seems to me that all the ginger men I know are funny. Not funny looking or funny weird, but funny ha ha. It was a blog I was reading the other day (the ginger fight back, give it a go) that got the cogs in my head turning. Are ginger men born funny? Or does it develop over time? Is it nature or nurture? What I mean is, does the fact that they get mocked because of their hair (I’m not condoning it, just stating facts of the schoolyard) mean they develop a self defence funny bone? A self deprecation that led one of my friends to walk around wearing nothing but a box which said ‘ginger nuts’ over his own (they are a type of biscuit for those that don’t know). I shall attempt to use some other genetic examples to quantify my theory.

1) Are all fat pepole cheerful? I once heard someone tell a large lady near me “if you’re gonna be fat, you could at least have the common decency to be jolly”. Let me set something straight from the off, this is not an attack on anyone, but if you are big boned or fat, you generally have a rosy completion and a cheeky, chubby face. This, to my eyes, gives you a cheerful quality. I think we could call it the Santa effect. And to be fair, most large people I know are very happy and laugh often. They are also great at hugs, but I digress. I also know some real miseries who are portly, so this does nothing to help prove my theory. Next.

2) Are all short men angry? I’m not, but then I’m just below average height. And once again, let me state that this is not an attack on dwarfs (even though one was called grumpy) or little people. Many famous leaders where short blokes:

Alexander the Great
Napoleon
Hitler
Sarkozy
Berlusconi
Cruise (maybe not)

All under 5’6, all wanting power, all angry about being short. Napoleon even had a complex named after him (in the psychological sense, not the building sense). I think then that this is nature. And why do short blokes date tall women? Anyway, next.

3) Are all pretty people arrogant? Yes we are. Only kidding. I think that this is more a nurture thing. I know some very attractive/pretty/sexy people (I also know some proper ugly ones, just to show I’m balanced), and it seems that some are very lovely and others are so full of themselves that they become repulsive, despite their looks. This viewpoint is not one of jealousy as my wife is attractive/pretty/sexy, so I’m not jaded by being turned down by the gorgeous folk, I married one. This to me is about upbringing. My wife is down to earth and doesn’t know how pretty she is, those who have been told their whole lives ‘you’re so gorgeous, you should be a model’ feel entitled. It reminds me of a song by the streets, Fit But You Know It. As an aside, I went to school with this guy below (yes, me and David Gandy are the same age, and have surprisingly similar dress sense). He never got the girls then so I hope his late blooming has kept him grounded.

So then, what have we learnt here today? Not much really. I think that the ginger blokes I know are funny because they learnt, at an early age, to laugh at themselves. My hair is all but gone and I can now laugh at bald jokes, I think it’s given me an avenue of comedic thinking I had never really gone done before. So in that respect, gingers are ahead of the curve.

Keep on being who you are my ginger friends, I may not be one of you, but pretty soon I’ll have so little hair it won’t matter anyway.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Up in the sky…(or the Boutique and Bistro in the clouds)

I remember, many years ago, smoking on a flight to America. I was 16, away with a group of friends (most of them older than me but not all over 21 so the drinking thing wasn’t too awkward) and we had 3 smoking seats between 7 or 8 smokers. It was the longest game of musical chairs in history. I understand why they stopped smoking on planes, I also understand though that the air is recirculated less (due to the lack of smelly smokiness), and so the lack of smoking directly links to the increase in picking up coughs and colds while up in the sky (and why do they still have the no smoking signs?). The point is that flying has changed massively over the past 20 years.

I also remember when you got lots of free stuff. Nuts before take off, drinks throughout the flight, snacks as well as meals, headphones, ear plugs, eye blankets (I think the correct term is face mask but eye blankets sounds better to me). Now, you get food that tastes of plastic, the drinks cart comes round every couple of hours, you have to pay for headphones, you still get the nuts but they are now mixed in with pretzels. I think that flying has become like a long train journey. It’s so ordinary and everyday that you forget how good it used to be. The following things have happened to me in planes over the last few years…

1) I had a leaky seat. Well, it was the ceiling really. It still worried me and made me study my crash card more carefully.

2) My TV didn’t work. This was responded to with the utmost malaise. The promise of a DVD player that took 3 hours, and having to ask 10 times, to come. The film choices were pretty dire too.

3) They ran out of booze. This one was terrible. It was a morning flight, heading out to the crazy world of Vegas, and so I decided to wait until a decent hour to have a beer. At 11.30am they announced that the bar was closed due to lack of alcohol. I complained and was told that some people were very drunk and rowdy…

“Good for them, I’d like the same oppertunity”

“We are very sorry sir, but we can’t discriminate on who we serve alcohol to, so we can no longer give any out”

“So you haven’t run out?”

“No sir”

And try as I might, they didn’t give me a beer. They also have flights where they need to have enough for the round trip and so cut you off at a certain point. If they can fill up on fuel then they can fill up on beer.

But this isn’t the main point of my Blog today. The main point is that of the budget airline. They have really gone the extra mile in separating you from your money. They offer very small items (of the brands you know, so you think it will be bigger than it is) for a very big price. The can of beer that is the same size as a can of Coke, the packet of Pringles that is a third of the usual size, a bag of chocolate that has less than a handful of sweets. Grrrrrrrrrr, here comes the rant… The seats are too small. The leg room is rubbish. You have to fight and scramble to get aboard to sit together. You have to pay for your bags. They constantly use the intercom to try and sell you stuff. There is no entertainment. They all wear orange. And breathe. This is all nothing new, what has changed is the pretension of these airlines. While sat in my small seat, waiting for the trolley, the following announcement was made.

“If you would like something to eat or drink, or if you would like to purchase some of our special offers in perfume of spirits, then why not take advantage of the Boutique and Bistro”

I have heard some exaggeration in my time, I am a man so prone to it myself, but to call the food trolley a Bistro and the duty free a boutique? Words fail me, and that happens as often as a freebie on a budget flight.

I am flying home today with the orange airline, wish me luck.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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It’s grim up north?

Well no, it’s not. Having just got back from a small town outside of Leeds (Heckmondwike), I found it rather a relaxing experience. Yes the journey up there was long and full of delays, yes the M1 is a horrid motorway and yes, the boy screamed for a large part of the journey. But when you get up north certain things change for the better. Here comes my list of northern wonders. most of them car based…

1) people drive normally. Someone said to me the other day that driving in London is like driving in a race. I think she was right. I turn into a real arse in London traffic. I don’t let anyone out or in, I put my foot down when I don’t need to and I swear (a lot). Up in the Leeds area I was let out by a nice lady, in turn I let someone else out. I can’t remember the last time I was let out in London (and in turn I can’t remember the last time I let someone out).

2) crossing the road. Where I live you have a 50/50 chance of some one in a car stopping for a pedestrian even on a designated crossing. Where I work this percentage drops to zero. When visiting my friends, a young man (in a hot hatch sported up car with a very loud stereo) let us across the road and it wasn’t even a crossing. His music still sucked though!

3) the pace of life. People walk around up north, they don’t march. If you stroll in London then you get barged past more often than not. If you don’t run off the tube and to the escalator then you get pushed along. This happens irrespective of age, ability or what you are carrying (even if what you are carrying is a small child). I can’t see the need to run between stops, 20 seconds isn’t gonna make that much difference, you’re not that important.

So there we go. I really liked my visit up to Leeds, it was relaxing and rejuvenating. Will I be moving up there? Not a chance. I like the pace of life down here as much as my friends like the pace of life up where they live. We do like to visit each other, but as Dorothy said ‘there’s no place like home’. If only I had some ruby slippers and didn’t have to use the M1 motorway.

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The best and worst Trilogy

What makes a good trilogy? Is it a good idea? is it something that gets better as you watch or read each one? Is it something that is well thought through? I am unsure what makes this magical thing of 3 great things, I can however tell you what makes a bad trilogy. Here are my top 3 bad trilogies.

1) The Godfather. This may surprise some, especially those that know me, but the Godfather trilogy is guilty of committing a terrible, terrible crime. The first Godfather film was amazing, made even more so by the fact I hadn’t seen it until the age of 25. I loved the interwoven story line, the effortless violence and completeness of it all. I loved it. Then came number 2. It was even better than the first and added another great Italian actor into the mix. The dual story lines went extremely well together and the whole ‘how times of changed’ angle was great. Number 3 was s**t. End of story. From such high expectations came a less than mediocre film. Why oh why!

2) Back to the Future (although the illustrator of the Squidge series disagrees). The first 2 films were interwoven so well that you couldn’t just stop at the first, although it dies stand alone very well. The ideas behind it, the great acting, and the fact that it makes you feel smarter than you are by being able to follow it. It hits all the right notes. Number 3 though, oh dear. It is all the things a western shouldn’t be and it really feels tacked on to the end as a money spinner. A flying steam-powered train? Really?

3) The Matrix. What a concept. seriously, what a concept. The real world isn’t the real world, the real world is a desolate waste land. Only one (the one) can save man kind. WOW. I walked out of the matrix thinking ‘how will they ever follow that up?’ The answer? Badly. I think that the idea of Zion was a very bad one, as did many other people. So much so that you can watch the Matrix de-zionised. check out U-tube. 

So then, to the best 3. Trilogies that I love.

1) Star Wars. It’s Star Wars, what else do you need? And yes, I am ignoring the prequels. Mr Lucas was given the green light on one film, even though he had 6 (or 9 if you believe certain quarters) he chose to start at number 4. He basically went for the best one for commercial viability. It gets better with both Empire and Jedi.

2) Lord of the Rings. Either the books or the films, I’m not fussy which. All films and books are wonderful, clever, linked and, as with all great stories, a tale of good versus evil. Now some people think they are a bit long and others liked them enough to buy the extended version. Guess which one I was! I would quite happily spend an entire day of my life watching back to back extended films. I have already done it with the 7 star wars films (I included the clone wars animated film).

3) Squidge: Little elf, Little bear. Ok, Ok, I admit it may not be the greatest of trilogies but it is close to my heart. It’s the story of an elf, a bear, some lemmings and a wolf pack. It was really fun to write, lets hope it is as fun to read.

Squidge: little elf, little bear.

That’s it from me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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School trippin

Going on a school trip is a lot like childbirth. Bear with me here and I will explain. The school trip, like having a child, involves planning, anticipation, worry, lots of information, a risk assessment,  but above all else, the ability to forget the pain.

If you speak to a woman just after child birth they can’t even think about doing it again. And yet, we don’t have a nation of single child families. After a couple of weeks the pain subsides, the memory fades, and you are left with a wonderful feeling.

With the school trip, you ask a teacher who has just returned how it went and they will tell you that the are exhausted, that they didn’t get a break, and that they will never take that bunch of little terrors out again. A couple of weeks pass and the kids talk about the trip with fond memories, remembering facts and information that you have forgotten. It’s one of those ‘why I became a teacher’ moments. The making a difference in society kind of thing. So you start to think about the next trip and the cycle starts again.

Now I’m not silly enough to believe a link much past my silliness, but the thought tickled me.

So, our class trip was a huge success. The kids loved the interactive elements as well as the reading and thinking parts. I would have to say that it was one of the best I have been on. Here is why (bring on the list) …

1) the journey was pretty short and on the  DLR (docklands light railway). This was fantastic as they had plenty to look at.

2) no parents(we took student teachers). I have been in classes where the parents come along and they might as well bring a massive bag of cotton wool to wrap the kids in. “it’s raining, he might get sick”, “such and such called my daughter a name”. They also spend a fortune on their child in the gift shop, even though the other kids have been told to bring a maximum of £2.00.  Which brings me onto…

3) we avoided the gift shop. Children spending half an hour trying to decide if they want to buy an overpriced pencil, eraser or badge. All being followed around by a security guard, ready to pounce on any dangerous 10 year old pen thieves.

4) we had lunch early. This meant that no child had the chance to ask when lunch was or moan constantly about being starving. Something about having a pack lunch on your person seems to do this.

So, a good school trip with a large class, 4 trained staff members and a fun time had by all.

We even managed to ‘deliver’ all the children back to school safely. The mums will be happy!

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A double whammy today of poems and a pic. This is the poem from the second book, Little Elf, Big Problem.

Some issues arose with the name as it has, just as Big Trouble did, some negative connotations. I think though, Squidge being a cute fellow who gets in the kind of trouble that a child who was left with a jar of opened chocolate spread would, can pull it off.

 

 Squidge – Little Elf, Big Problem.

If you eat lots of chocolate and you’re not very tall,

If you can’t go on rides ‘cos you’re ever so small,

If you just cannot reach that jar on the shelf,

You’re either a very small child or an elf.

In our story today it’s an elf who’s the star,

Squidge, the littlest elf by far,

But before we meet Squidge and join in his fun,

Before we find out why our friend has to run,

We need to make sure that some other stuff’s done

And so our adventure starts: three… two…

 

“One more and then we can get out of here,” shouted the chief elf as he put the last of the covers on the big machines. “Right oh,” came the reply from his assistant.

 

Hope you like it. The full book is available here

Squidge IBooks

And here

Squidge amazon

Ands lots of free stuff here

Squidge Elf website

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