Tuesday, 29 November 2016

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND

IT IS GETTING SO EXCITING.

The book is due any day now and we can't wait. An earlier post talked about the last 3 books the Kawau Island BOOKWORMS members have written and how well they have sold. It seems everyone is fascinated by Islands.

Now here comes our fourth book. ISLAND PASSAGES. More news coming soon.

In the meanwhile, this time there are stories, poems and photographs on the theme of our getting from there to here. Because we have no network of roads, we have to use other methods for just the everyday matter of getting to our homes, let alone the more difficult and innovative way of building, getting in groceries, and visiting one another as each bay is separated from the others and the land is steep.

Kawau Island is At 36.42 degrees South and 174.84 degrees East, Time Zone 12 hours ahead of GMT in winter and 13 hours ahead in summer and 8 km from the mainland wharf of Sandspit, New Zealand, lies a small piece of land surrounded by sea, known as Kawau Island. Kawau being the Maori name for the local shag which nests here in large numbers.
Kawau Island’s size is 5,000 acres. It’s 8 km long , 5 km wide, and nearly split in half by Bon Accord Harbour, which geologically is known as a drowned valley. Most of the island is owned by a family trust, 500 acres owned by the Department of Conservation, and the remainder is divided up among the Islanders.
This little island is home to approximately 60 full-time residents; a holiday home to hundreds more, and a fantasy island to visiting cruising boats and the boatloads of tourists and holiday makers in summer.



Sunday, 27 November 2016

How I Finally Finished My Book

CREATIVITY HAS BEEN GOING INTO BLANK PERIODS

I have made a commitment to have my forthcoming book of poetry at the publishers by the end of March 2017 at the very latest. The motivation is there, but so are the distractions. I found I was getting to the stage of my head getting to the blank stage and starting to feel blah. So I'm going to start limiting myself to two sessions and then calling it a day. I'll let you know how I go.



Thursday, 24 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON - CONTINUED -. Final - Part 9

If they keep trying can they rescue the King Dragon?

Not ten minutes, not five minutes, but three minutes! A very surprised King Dragon, who had been asleep in a vault for ten years finds himself on a football field in front of Miss Grey, a class of children, his wife, his sons and all the dragons of his town. “Yikes!” he said, or something like that – he had said it so loud that it sounded like a plane’s sonic boom. The birds flew out of the trees and the school’s windows rattled.

Theo’s mother rushed up and threw her arms around her husband. “You are safe, she whispered. “You are safe.”

And everyone: Miss Grey, Theo, Room Nine, the town of Dragons were so teary-eyed and turning to look at each other in delight that they stopped their wishing and ‘pop.’ Miss Grey, Theo and the class were once again alone on the football field. The class rolled around the ground in laughter. “We did it!” “Did you see how many dragons there were?” “The poor king, he had no colour from being locked away for so long.” “I thought all kings had a crown?” said Marie. “Whow your dad is huge,” Matthew says to Theo and squeezes his hand. Miss Grey is wiping tears from her eyes yet laughing too. She claps her hands, “I think an early lunch would be a good idea,” she calls out. “It is time to return to the classroom.”

Theo is not really enjoying his lunch, even though he loves jelly and icecream. “Miss, I do want to stay for this last day, but my heart also wants to go and be with my father.”

Theo, I understand and of course you want to be with your family. Class, class, stop a moment. Theo needs to go back home, but first he wants to say goodbye and I have a couple of things I want to give him before he goes. First she hands him his school report in its envelope and then a shiny silver cup. It is engraved with the words, Class Nine. The Most Improved Student. And underneath in beautiful script writing was written, Theodore Acidophilus Junior.

Theo gave Miss Grey a very cold, shiny oval red stone. And then somehow, though everyone was a bit upset, he managed to thank Miss Grey for being his teacher and the class for being his friends and the class sang ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ and Theo added Hip Hip Hooray at the end in his deep grumble voice and was gone.

Miss Grey, to stop the children being sad about Theo leaving, hurried the children to finish tidying away from having lunch and do their chores before packing their schoolbags for one last time of being in Room Nine.

The parents were already arriving in the school hall and soon the children would join them for the Prize Giving. Then the summer holidays would start.

It was so hard to sit still and listen to Mr Thoroughgood and his long speech. Then it was time for the Chairman of the Board of Directors to hand out certificates, cups and prizes for all the good schoolwork the pupils had done and everyone clapped and clapped. And then Mr Thoroughgood stood up again. “There is just one more thing,” he said.

The whole school did a little sigh. Would Prize Giving never end?”

I have a special certificate for everyone in Room Nine. On Parent Day, with the help of a clown, who I know was Matthew’s uncle over visiting from Greece, a Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior, they raised $82 in total for two shade trees for the school grounds,” Mr Thoroughgood was saying.

Miss Grey and Room Nine suddenly felt very sad. They wished that Theo could be with them and be hearing the headmaster saying this.

Mr Thoroughgood continued, “And together with the Parent Committee and the School Directors we have decided on two Red Pin Oaks. They will be planted alongside the painting of the dragon on the school hall wall.

There was a lot more clapping. After a moment Mr Thoroughgood had his hand up to stop the clapping – “And one more thing. We have also decided that the painting of the red dragon that appeared on the school hall wall, so mysteriously, is to now be the School Mascot. From now on our football and basketball teams will be known as the Red Dragons. Miss Grey would you come up here please and accept Room Nine’s certificates.

There was lots of cheering and so much clapping that Room Nine’s hands hurt. Miss Grey went up onto the stage and collected all the certificates and as she was returning to her seat who did she standing in the doorway at the back and giving a little wave? It was Theo with his Dad.

For the first time that year she forgot to think quickly. “I am so glad you could be here Theodore Acidophilus Junior, “she called.

Everyone turned around, but was not sure who she was talking to, except for Room Nine who were also smiling and waving.

Mr Thoroughgood is quietly pleased that Miss Grey is leaving the school to go and teach over in Australia. There is something odd about that teacher, and Room Nine had been just as odd as her.

*

In the car on the way home, Matthew’s mother turns to him and asks, “what did the headmaster mean by saying that an uncle of yours was over from Greece and was staying with us?”


“Do you mean Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior? replies Matthew. “I think it was a teacher-only joke.” And Matthew and Arion start giggling.



                                                                  ...





Tuesday, 22 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON CONTINUED - Part 8

THE RESCUE OF THE HEADMASTER. He can't swim and keeps sinking...

“I better go ahead and have a look,” says Theo. “No one can see me.” Jack you bring the surfboard down into the water. I may need it” And Theo shook the sand out of his wings and was away.

Mr Thoroughgood was in the water. He had been in the middle of photographing some crabs when he had stepped backwards into air, and splash! – down into the sea.

He was holding on to a rock, but it was slippery and he kept sinking and swallowing water. “Help,” he had called again and again. But with the noise of the seagulls and the crash of the waves against the rocks no one could hear him. He could not hold on much longer. He was losing consciousness, and was thinking of all the things he would miss if he was dead.

And in this semi-dream state he sees a, a what? A red dragon hovering over him. “I must already be dead,” he says aloud. “Hello angel, I did not know angels looked like red dragons”

Theo hearing him talk, knows he is not too late. “Hold that rock for just a moment longer, headmaster,” calls Theo. And quick as a flash Theo is back with the surfboard. “Here let me pull you up onto the surfboard and I’ll tow it to shore.”

By this time the teachers and parents were on the rocks looking for a way to get to Mr Thoroughgood. “I have found his camera.” someone calls. “I can see the headmaster,” someone else calls. And there is their headmaster half lying on a surfboard, and there is spray flying up everywhere as it speeds to the shore.

“Look, there is Theo pulling the surfboard by a rope!” Marie points, forgetting at that moment that Theo is Room Nine’s secret. But everyone is so busy being worried and talking to each other only Room Nine understands what she is saying and starts cheering – “Go Mr Thoroughgood!” Soon everyone is cheering, “Go Mr Thoroughgood!” and they start scrambling over the rocks back to the beach to meet him.

Some teachers rush into the water and pull the surfboard onto the beach. Then they drag the headmaster up the sand a little way and are pressing the water out of his lungs. Suddenly the headmaster is coughing and out comes lots and lots of water. Mr Thoroughgood opens his eyes and looks around. “How did I get here?” he asks.

Everyone looks at each other and realise that they are not quite sure. Some think they saw him grab a surfboard that just happened to be floating by. Some thought they saw him paddling very fast. Some were so busy watching their feet as they went over the rocks they only saw him as he arrived on the beach. Some though, knew that Theo had saved their headmaster.

Mr Thoroughgood is not sure what he knows. One minute he was drowning, thinking his life was over, and then next, a red dragon, just like the one in the painting on the school hall wall, is talking to him. Is in the water beside him. Is pulling at him. Is making sure he is hanging on tightly to a surfboard. Is flying ahead, pulling the surfboard to the shore.

Mr Thoroughgood felt much better after someone gave him a hot coffee with lots of sugar in it. Then he changed out of his wet headmaster-clothes and into a parent’s spare bathing suit and with a towel around his shoulders sat in the sun to warm up and ate his lunch. Everyone was very glad he was safe. He was very glad he was safe too and that he had not lost his camera.

*

On Mr Thoroughgood’s office wall there is a photograph of the whole school taken on the beach. In the front is the surfboard that rescued him. But he is a little puzzled. There are those 6 children from Room Nine being strange again. They have their arms out as if they are hugging a large someone, but there is no one there, just an empty space.

Next to this photograph is another photograph. One of the red dragon painting that appeared mysteriously one day on the outside of the school hall. Mr Thoroughgood thinks he is the only one who knows why the photograph is there. But Room Nine and Miss Grey know.

  



Last Day of the School Year

On Friday Miss Grey arrived early. It was the last day of the school year. This afternoon was the Prize Giving, but there was a lot to do before then. She already had written all the pupil‘s school reports and put them in their envelopes to be given to the parents
.
The lessons, pictures and stories had been taken down off the walls. She had checked that all the library books had been returned. But there were still the cloakroom and storeroom to be tidied and the class needed to empty their desks and stack them. She had made three different coloured jellies and had two big tubs of strawberry icecream in a chilly bin for the class ‘end of year party.’

But before the class arrives, Theo is there. He is highly excited. He tries to get out of his mouth all his words at once.

“Just stop a moment, Theo. Right, now take a big breath and start again. Slowly” says Miss Grey.

It seems that his Mum, being proud of how well her son was doing at school and then his rescue of the headmaster, had finally told the other dragons where her son had been disappearing to in the past months. Also she mentioned how he originally got there. Why even she and the baby had gone  ‘pop’ and arrived at the school one day where she had met his teacher and all the children.

But as the dragons all discussed this wonder, the thought suddenly came to them: if the class could have a dragon friend because they wished so hard for him to be there, then….then. Could they wish for the King so hard to be with them he would ‘pop’ and escape the vault he was locked in at the London museum?

But maybe just their wishing would not do it; but combined with the class, who they already knew could do it...?

“But, Miss Grey, I told them it was the last day of school today. And I had not asked you. So no one knew, And I did not know if we could…?”

“Could what?” asked Miss Grey with a sinking feeling.

“If we could all concentrate and wish my whole town of dragons to be here, and at the same time they also wish to be here – then when we are all here together we give a really great big wish for my Dad, the King, to be with us?”

                                                         * * *

Mr Thoroughgood looked out his window and saw Miss Grey and all of Room Nine with their eyes closed, sitting in two straight lines on the football field. He wonders what they are up to this time sitting out in the hot sun like that, then shakes his head, he has given up understanding Room Nine and anyway he is busy writing his speech for this afternoon.

But Room Nine knows exactly what it is doing. It is wishing hard to have the whole football field filled with dragons! Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Nothing. Sixteen minutes and ‘pop’ there was the whole football field, and the tennis court, and the playground full of dragons of every colour and size. Miss Grey stood up and placed a finger to her lips – “shh” – but the dragons are too amazed to make a sound. It was the rustling of their wings that sounded like a sudden wind in the trees.

“I am so glad we can help. Are you ready?” Miss Grey asks. “O k, all together, concentrate!”

The dragons gave out their love for their King and wished hard he was here. Theo and his mother wanted him home even more. And the class really really wished to see a real Dragon King.




Friday, 18 November 2016

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND


IS IT SUMMER YET?

We are supposedly into summer here now and it's only five weeks to New Zealand's close down for three weeks from Christmas day for our annual summer holidays. The weather forecast for today predicted passing showers - did I miss the mention it was going to be windy as well?  A steady 35 knots and gusting higher - ( that's 40.3 miles per hour) and remembering that America's Cup races are cancelled when blowing 20 knots. Some yachts were already taking a long weekend break and arrived at the Island yesterday, but some hearing the updated marine forecast and were scooting back home at dawn. Others tucked into sheltered Bays for the night. I talked to a couple of yachties who had decided to come ashore and stretch their legs and they reckoned it was more scary on land listening to the trees being battered. than being out at sea.


Cathedrale St. Joseph de Noumea.


This is for my friend Jean who is having a hard year and now one of our mutual friends is in the process of passing over into the world of mystery.

We went on holiday to Noumea in 1966. My first visit overseas.


1966


The hard cobalt of the sky
and the unrelenting heat
of the mid-day sun
drove her up the wide steps
into the shade of the portal
of the French Cathedral; then
walk further on through

the open doors into the cave
of a cool sanctuary - lit
by a pattern of broken shards
of pure colour scattered
over the pews and knave
from the high surround
of steepled windows:

and up through the floor,
from the walls, from the ceiling,
breathed an Eolian music
from the wandering breeze
that sighs over the singing reeds
of the unattended towering
pipes of the Cathedral organ.

To her, it felt as if the Cathedral,
the time, the colour, the music,
had come into a perfect harmony
then paused,
                   waiting on her arrival.

An hour carefully staged to remind
her soul of their previous love
and lives together – and today’s
gift is to ensure those memories
will stay close to her

through this life as well.

Copyright: Lois E Hunter
lois.e.hunter2@gmail.com 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON continued PART 7


The Little Red Dragon - what is Miss Grey going to ask them?


Miss Grey hesitates so long the class gets a bit restless. Then she continues, “Before we take everything down off the walls that we put up for Parent Day, Theo would like his mother and baby brother to come tomorrow to see them. I would like to try an experiment. Tomorrow as you are coming to school I would like you to wish very, very hard, for them to come and maybe they too can ‘pop’ and just appear. Do you want to try?”

“Oh, whow!” “Yes!” “A grown-up dragon, how big will she be?” “I am going to try.” “Me too.”

“Hush, off you go now and join your families, just try your best and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Theo, come here. I’ll help you out of your clown costume and wash your face for you.”


  



Theo’s Mother Visits Room Nine

On Thursday morning Matthew is on the train, concentrating. “Please come, Mrs Dragon. Jack and Amy are each walking to school, they chant as they walk. ”Come in Mother Dragon.” Marie is on the bus singing a little song, “Please come little baby dragon, bring your Mummy too.” Janice and Michael are brought to school in their parent’s cars. They are tapping their fingers in time to whispering, “come, come, Mother Dragon.” And everyone else in the class, each in their own way are calling in Theo’s mother to visit their class.

Miss Grey had kept waking in the night and worrying if she had made a mistake. Theo is a lovely friendly red dragon, she loves him very much But, maybe his mother is a mean dragon. A huge, fire-breathing dragon. Maybe Theo’s mother doesn’t like teachers or worse, scares the class?

Miss Grey arrived early to school. But so does most of the class. “Is Theo here yet?” “Has Theo brought his mother” They ask as they come in the door.

Not yet. Not yet. Nine o’clock, and still not yet. But at five past nine, and ‘pop’ and there is Theo laughing, “ho ho ho” and “ha ha ha” in his deep grumble voice. “They are right behind me,” he says, and ‘pop’ there stands his mother, a really enormous dragon, at the doorway. She can’t get in! She closes up her wings even tighter, takes a deep breath, and with a bit of a squeeze and a bit of puffing she is in the classroom.

“Good morning Miss Grey, says Theo’s mother, “It is so nice of you to ask me to visit” Then she turns towards the class and smiles, “Oh, all the children. My son talks about you all the time.”

Theo’s mother is coloured silver and soft rainbow colours like the scales of a freshly caught snapper. Her eyes are deep gold, her folded wings are like midnight blue velvet and all her long nails are bright red. But her baby under one arm, though eleven years old, is only the size of a cat and is the same dull brown as a lizard.

Miss Grey has a great big smile on her face. She is so relieved to see that Theo’s mother is here. Of course she is kind; isn’t she is Theo’s mother after all. And most wonderful of all, she is seeing a live fully grown dragon right in front of her! But she just answers: “I am so glad we could help you to come. If you look over here I shall show you Theo’s schoolwork. He works very hard at his lessons and his handwriting is the best in the class.”

“I’ll hold, (and it sounded like ‘jingloh’), for you Mum while you talk to Miss Grey.” And Theo lifted up his baby brother and took him over to meet his friends.

“He doesn’t look much like a dragon yet,” says Michael, “more like that lizard we found at the park.”

“Yes, why is he brown?” “He has one red eye and one blue eye!” “Can he talk yet?” “Can he walk?” “Does he like yoghurt too?” “Is he really seven years old?”

So many excited questions the class is asking and Theo answered them the best he could. His brother was more interested in trying to catch a girl’s hair and put it in his mouth when one came close enough.

“Class, Class,” Miss Grey interrupts.” Theo’s mother would like to talk to you. We can’t pronounce her Dragon name, but she is happy for you to call her Mrs Acidophilus.”

“Hello everyone, says Theo’s mother.

“Hello, Mrs Acidophilus,” answers the class. “Hello Mum,” answers Theo.

“I would like to thank you all very much for looking after my son. You have been very kind to him. In our country, Theo is a prince. His father, the King, has been missing for ten years. I have just learned this week that an explorer mistook him for a statue and he has been locked in a vault in the London Museum all these years.

The eyes of Miss Grey and the class got bigger and bigger. Theo is a prince. His dad is a king locked away in the London Museum That would mean that Theo’s mother, who was standing there in front of them, is a queen dragon. What a shame they can’t tell anyone else. No one would believe them.

Marie puts up her hand. ”Please Mrs Acidophilus, why do you think most people cannot see dragons? Only our class can see Theo.”

”Do you think it is because humans are too busy to think about dragons, therefore they don’t exist? Theo’s mother answers,. “I nearly forgot to think of humans, or to believe they actually existed, until Theo told me all about you. What do you think Miss Grey?”

Miss Grey answers: “You are probably correct, it seems such a pity we don’t know more about dragons, especially after getting to know Theo.” Then she remembers Mrs Hall wanting to keep a lizard in a jar, and adds, “But maybe most humans are not quite ready yet to understand and be kind to Dragons.

Miss Grey then introduces Theo’s mother to everyone individually in the class. Theo’s mother looks at all the work they have done through the year. She looks at the paintings, the sun and planets hanging from the string that went from one corner of the ceiling to the other, all the books in the library and the two new ones about dragons. She looks at the story board with all their photographs on it. Then Miss Grey takes her to look at the original painting of the red dragon on the school hall wall.

“I am amazed,” says Theo’s mother, when she returns to the classroom. “You are very clever children and now Miss Grey says you are going to sing me some songs. I shall stand over there and listen. Theo would you pass me back your baby brother?”

And the class sang their six favourite songs, one after the other. They were concentrating so hard on remembering all the words and the second part harmonies, they did not notice when the Queen Dragon and her baby went ‘pop’ and were no longer there.








The School’s Beach-Picnic

Theo did not expect the ocean to look so big.
He walked very close to Matthew as they walked down the sand towards the waves. Jack and Amy were walking behind to scuff over Theo’s big dragon footprints.

“Will the sea be just as easy to swim in as your swimming pool?” he asks Matthew.

“Much easier,” replies Matthew. “Salt water makes you float better than fresh water. Don’t drink it though, it will make you throw-up.”

“Wait for us,” call out Michael and Janice as they run down the beach just in time to join their five friends enter the water. The seven of them dive head first into the first wave together and their heads rise again laughing.

“I could stay in the sea and swim all day – look at how well I can float.” calls Theo.

Matthew gives Theo’s tail a pull to see if he can duck him, but Theo keeps floating on top of the water like a big red balloon. Theo and his friends were having so much fun they nearly missed hearing the whistle blown for the 3rd time calling them in for lunch time.

They chose to sit under a tree a little apart from the others to eat their lunch and then, because it was such a warm day and they were tired from all their swimming, they lay back in the sand and before they realised it were asleep.

“Have you seen Mr Thoroughgood? We can’t find him anywhere” Miss Grey was standing in front of them looking anxious. They woke with a start.

“No Miss, no we haven’t” they chorus.

But then it is Theo who remembers. ”Yes I did see him. Just before we came in for lunch. He was out on the rocks over there. I think he was taking photographs.”

Miss Grey rushes away to call out to the other teachers and parents. “The rocks, the boys saw him on the rocks over there!”

They get up and follow the crowd heading for the rocks. It is not long before someone is pointing and calling, “Over there. I think I can see a head in the water way over there.”


Jack suddenly remembers the conversation he had with Mr Thoroughgood on Parent Day. “But he told me he can’t swim!” he says in an urgent voice to the others. “What if he drowns?”

.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON CONTINUED - PART 6

The little Red Dragon  and Miss Grey is coping surprisingly well, considering....



Miss Grey was anxious all weekend about Theo’s weekend visit. She need not have worried. They bounced into class on Monday morning. “High five Miss Grey,” they called laughing. And she laughed and high fived them in turn. “This morning instead of me reading you a story would you boys like to tell the class about your weekend? You have ten minutes.”

Matthew started. ”It was easy all the way. We took the collar and lead for the train. We had a marvellous weekend. Only my brother Arion realised Theo was there. He got a surprise to see a live red dragon. You should see how well Theo can swim.”

“And Arion says I can hold my breath under water much longer than any of them,” interrupts Theo.

Theo is interrupted by Jack. “And don’t forget who opened the cage to pat the guinea pigs and let them escape.”

“But I found them again,” protests Theo.

“And we spent all Sunday morning looking for them,” continues Matthew, “we looked everywhere.”

“But I found them again,” repeats Theo sounding hurt.

Jack starts to giggle. “And you nearly gave that poor neighbour a heart attack when she heard you talking into your cellphone as you flew over the top of her head.

“Well I was just phoning to tell you I could see the guinea pigs running in the orchard,” says Theo, “and that I would go and get them – no one told me I shouldn’t fly.”

“Fly? Theo can fly?” gasped the class.

“He is good at flying, if he has enough room.” Matthew says finishing the story. “But he forgot the guinea pigs were not invisible. While Mrs Wilson was still shocked from hearing Theo talking, she saw our two guinea pigs flying past her by themselves. She had been collecting eggs, she told Mum later on the phone, and was so upset she dropped the whole bowl of them.”

“And, and…” Matthew was laughing so much he could hardly finish to say. ”Mum told her they couldn’t be our guinea pigs because ours were still in their cage.”

By now Matthew was laughing hard, so was Jack and the class is also joining in. Theo looked confused for a moment, then was laughing too. Ho ho ho, ha ha ha, he laughed in his deep grumble voice.

Miss Grey was also laughing, but quietly. She understood perfectly how Mrs Wilson would feel, trying to convince anyone she had heard an invisible voice talking in the sky and how she had definitely seen two guinea pigs flying by.




  
Parent Day

The school year will be over in another three weeks. Then it is the long summer holidays. But before then there are three special days. Parent Day. The School Beach-Picnic Day. And Prize Giving Day.

All week the classroom walls were being decorated with paintings and stories. There are a couple of strings going from one side of the ceiling to the other. One string has more paintings clipped to it. The other string has bright coloured paper models of the sun and the planets hanging off it. Theo is very proud of the sun. He had made and painted it bright yellow, all by himself. He also has one of his stories and two of his paintings pinned on the walls.

The morning before Parent Day Miss Grey has a nice surprise for the class. She has a big story board in front of her. “Remember how I took your photographs with my red cellphone last week? Well here they are!” And she turned around the storyboard and everyone’s photograph was on it. “I want you to write, in your best writing, on these pieces of paper I am going to give you, a sentence about what you like doing. I shall paste them underneath your photograph. Theo why are you picking up your library book? I have a photograph of you too”

Theo joins the others in the rush to see the photographs. He says, “Look Matthew, I am right up the top under the title ‘Room 9 - Class Mascot.’ And Miss Grey has put up a photograph of the red dragon the class painted on the school hall wall. “And, and, she has added my name underneath the same as everyone else! Theodore Acidophilus Junior,” Theo reads out loud, “I do like my name.” And Theo goes away and writes on his piece of paper to be pasted under his photograph, I like stories, singing and swimming. I also paint pictures.

But Theo is not looking forward to Parent Day. He will be the only one who will not have any family coming to admire his schoolwork. Miss Grey keeps saying never mind, and that she is so proud of how much he has learnt and his handwriting is by far the best in the class. But it is not quite the same. Theo asks Miss Grey, “Should I stay home on Parent Day? I think I will be in the way if I am at school.”

But Miss Grey answers, “I had been thinking about what you were to do on Parent Day. I have a couple of ideas, but let’s ask the class and see if there may be a better idea Theo.”

And before Theo knew it, on Parent Day he was going to be at school but be dressed up as a clown.

“You will need your tail up to fit into a costume,” suggests Amy.

“And you will need a big fluffy wig to hide most of your face,” says Jack.

“And we can paint the rest of his face white, says Michael, “or better still make him a hood and paint a clown face on it?”

Miss Grey adds, ‘Theo that will mean you can talk as much as you like and you can go wherever you want in the school. But, class, we will need a roster to have one person with him all the time, just in case something goes wrong. You will carry a basket to collect donations towards buying two big shade trees for the playground. I shall bring in the basket and write a sign for it.”

And that is how Theo came to be dressed as a clown on Parent Day. It was another sunny day. There was a big crowd of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and lots of little children too small to be schoolchildren, going in and out of classrooms, up and down stairs and walking around the school. There were running races and hurdles on the football field. A school band played for half an hour in the school hall. There was dancing in bright coloured national costumes from the schoolchildren who were born in different countries. There was a candyfloss stall painted by Room Nine with new paints, a sausage sizzle and pony rides.

Theo was having a wonderful time. Ho ho ho and ha ha ha, he laughed again and again. Everyone had taken turns to keep him company, but Matthew, Janice, Amy, Michael, Marie and Jack took the most turns. They had collected $62.20 in donations by two o’clock. It was only another hour to go to home time when Mr Thoroughgood stopped to talk.

“Hello, you are doing a wonderful job as a clown, everyone loves you, Mr? Mr?

“Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior.” quickly answers Jack. “He does not speak very much English. He is Matthew’s uncle visiting them from Greece.”

“Oh, thank you young Jack, do tell Mathew’s parents how much the school appreciates his contribution to the enjoyment of the day,” replies Mr Thoroughgood using the long words he loves to use; but then says. “Never mind, I shall tell them myself. I can see Matthew’s parents standing over there talking to Miss Grey.” And he starts to walk towards them.

“Oh, Mr Thoroughgood, Sir,” Jack catches at the headmaster’s sleeve. “A while ago you were telling us a story about sailing ships. Did you see them on your holiday to London last year?”

Mr Thoroughgood turned back to Jack, and for the next ten minutes Jack and Theo heard how some of the old sailing ships had been rescued and re-painted and looked good as new. They were now in the London Museum. Mr Thoroughgood’s ancestors had been sailors. “Unfortunately I don’t like sailing, I can’t even swim,” ended Mr Thoroughgood. He had forgotten all about going to talk to Matthew’s parents and walked off to watch a demonstration of Tai Chi.


“$82,” exclaims Miss Grey at home time. That will buy two very nice trees. Did you have a good day everyone?” And then she looked at all their happy, smiling faces and laughed. “Yes, I can see you did. Now before you go and join your parents who are waiting outside on the playground, there is one last thing I would like you to do.”

Sunday, 13 November 2016

FULL MOON








Slam all the doors. Close all the drapes.
Pull out the phone from the wall.
This is the night of the witchy-walk
and the moon is on the prowl

and coyly slides from hill to cloud
voluptuous in her glorious gold
she is here to woo, to tempt your soul
her face alight with love and lust.
Quick close those curtains tighter!

The moon is getting impatient now,
around the house she goes,
her longing fingers
poking and pleating
under the eaves
along the streets
over the sea

she climbs the sky
to beam out her power
100%

Any who look on her beauty now
will be moonstruck, go ga ga
slide down into a delightful la la land
as the love-lorn moon
weaves spells with your soul

until you're lost to love
and roam around the witchy nights.

So switch on the lights. Turn up the sound,
get your whole house pumping,
Tonight is not the night to mope at windows.
Don't touch the whisky. Keep drinking coffee.

Copyright: L E HUNTER

l.e.hunter2@gmail.com


Saturday, 12 November 2016

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND


                                       Here at the Island it is coming into the summer season and our sixty something resident-population is increasing weekly. Some will come in for the whole summer, some just for the weekends - and then there are the gathering numbers of pleasure boats returning to our harbours as well. The fish are back!!! -  and the boats are coming in with good catches of Snapper, Kingfish and Kahawai. I don’t own a boat but my neighbours are making sure I don’t miss out and spoiling me with a share of  their fish. Last night it was fresh snapper , a couple of days earlier it was smoked Kingsfish. Life is good.

Bacchus Comes to the Table


His senses are first nudged
by the rising aroma
from the entree snapper,
grilled to gold with salt and butter

then the astringent burst
of cut lemon, nothing other
added, before the knife parts.
The fork gathers up the first offer

toward his mouth and the fish
looks so good he won’t linger
before another forkful will come
to his lips – but oops, feels his error

for the tongue encounters small
sharp bones within the texture.
He won’t swallow yet. Replaces
knife and fork for thumb and forefinger.

And his palette, as never before,
is being pushed, way further,
as tongue, lips, the whole cave
of his mouth now hover

in an art of taste and sort – the mouth
becoming so sensitive it’s closer
to pain. Fish slow on the tongue.
Lick fish-juice from fingers. Is it vulgar

when finished to only be able
to murmur, ah! And again, ah!
With every sense focused, aquiver,
for the next course he’ll encounter.

Friday, 11 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON - PART FIVE


THE LITTLE RED DRAGON  continued...


Theo then goes to the escalator that goes down. But he is too scared to get on it without holding onto the handrail and he already has both hands full.

*

Meanwhile down in the toy department on the first floor Marie tugs at Matthews arm. “Where’s Theo?” she asks. Everyone then realises that Theo is not with them. Maybe he is in the next aisle? Or the next aisle? Or the next aisle? No, they can’t find Theo anywhere on the first floor. Maybe he is still on the third floor? And they rush up the escalators to the third floor but they can’t find Theo there either!

“Stop for a moment,” says Matthew. “He is in the store somewhere and we need to leave soon to catch our train. I have an idea.”

The store loudspeaker crackles. Then a lady’s voice says: “Would Theodore Acidophilus Junior please come to the information desk by the main doors. Your friends are waiting for you there. I repeat, would Theodore Acidophilus Junior please come to the information desk by the Main doors. Your friends are waiting for you there.”

Theo heard. But how was he to get there? He hurt all over from his fall. Sniff. Both his arms hurt from holding up his tail. Another sniff. His head hurt from holding back his tears. How can he ask anyone for help when he is invisible? I’m invisible…Yes!! I’m invisible! It was Theo’s turn to have a good idea. He quickly went over and stood next to a group of customers waiting at a counter to be served. The salesman was very busy.

Theo called out in his very best grown-up voice. “Excuse me sir, would you tell me how to get to the main doors without using the escalator?”

The salesman hardly turned around to see who had spoken. “The open doorway over to the left will lead you to the stairway down Sir.”

The lady at the information desk was not sure what went on. First there were six very upset children, asking her to use her microphone to call their friend Theodore Acidophilus Junior. But barely five minutes later, they were laughing and jigging around and rushing out the doors. They didn’t wait for their friend after all.

Jack stopped them for a moment when they were out on the street and clipped back up Theo’s tail. “Now we are late, we are going to have to run for the train.” And down the street they ran and caught the train just in time.

Next morning, before roll call and before the story, the class loudly sang Happy Birthday Miss Grey. And Miss Grey looked very surprised and very pleased.

“Fancy you remembering it is my birthday today.” She opened her big card with all their names in it. And said it was lovely and what lovely messages they had all written in it. Then she undid the red ribbon on her present. She took off the silver paper. She opened the box, and took out the shiny red cellphone. “Oh, it’s beautiful, and such a lovely red. It is just what I wanted. Thank you all so very much!”

“Miss, miss, it has a camera in it too,” called out Theo. And everyone laughed.

Then Miss Grey said why should they all have to wait until lunchtime to eat birthday cake and she cut the very big chocolate birthday cake into lots of big pieces. Theo was so excited he sang Happy Birthday all the way through in his deep grumble voice, and the class joined in at the end to add Hip Hip Hooray, and Miss Grey took a photograph of them all singing with her new shiny red cellphone.

Somewhere between eating birthday cake, singing happy birthday and the roll call, Miss Grey and the rest of the class heard all about the adventure in the city. Theo showed off all his blue sticking plasters that Marie had put on for him.

Miss Grey looked concerned. “It could be dangerous for Theo if ever gets lost again.
Would anyone mind if I gave him my old cellphone so he is always able to contact someone?” And when everyone replied they thought that was a good idea, “And Matthew, would you teach him how to use it?”

And that is how Theo had an adventure in the city, ate chocolate birthday cake and was given his own cellphone.




The Weekend of the Stay-over

Matthew had a very important question on his mind. He finished eating his dinner and before being asked, gets up and clears the table and washes the dishes. Afterwards he takes his parents a cup of tea each and a plate of ginger biscuits. It is time to ask: “Mum, Dad, can Jack come to stay for the weekend? And before you answer, Dad, you don’t have to pick him up. We have talked it over and he can come home with me on the train after school on Friday and go back with me on Monday morning.”

His Dad looks at his Mum. “It’s ok by me.”

We’ve met Jack,” says Mum, “he seems a sensible boy. I shall phone and organise it with his mother.”

What Matthew did not add was that he also had invited Theo to stay. In a couple of weeks the school was going on a beach picnic and Theo was worried that he could not swim. “We have a swimming pool at home, Jack and I can teach you,” he had said.

Miss Grey had to remind Matthew and Jack on Friday to pay attention and stop whispering in class. She noticed that Theo was also very restless. “Matthew, Jack, Theo. I would like you to stay behind at playtime. I want to talk with you.” It was then that Miss Grey heard about the coming weekend and what they were worried about.

“We don’t know if Theo can stay all that time with us. Normally, he tells us that after we leave for home he just goes ‘pop’ and arrives back at his house, just in time for his dinner.”

“Mnn,” answers Miss Grey. “Theo, you could leave the school grounds and go on the Nature Walk and also go to the city and you were with your friends until late that day. I think maybe it is as the class says: it is your friends wanting you to be with them that keeps you here. But Matthew, do make sure his cellphone stays charged.” She continued, “you can tell the class all about your weekend on Monday morning.”

 *

Matthew’s mother was busy in the kitchen when they arrived. So she just briefly put her head around the kitchen door. “Hello Jack nice to see you here. Put your bag in Matthew’s bedroom. I have made up a bed on the floor for you. You boys can change out of your school clothes and have a swim in the pool before dinner time. Arion is already in the pool. It is BBQ for dinner tonight.”

Arion is Matthew’s older brother. Matthew had tried to tell him about Theo but Arion had laughed and said he was too old to believe in dragons anymore. Matthew grinned, his brother was going to get a big surprise today. And Arion did get a surprise.




He saw Matthew, and then Jack, jump into the pool. “Come on, jump Theo!” they yelled. Arion saw two float rings rise up in the air and then before they hit the water there was a huge, huge splash. Then he heard ho ho ho and ha ha ha in a deep grumble voice.

Arion thought the boys were teasing him because he was at the age where his own voice was changing. He could have a high voice, then a low voice even in the same sentence. But Matthew was saying, “Arion I would like you to meet my red dragon friend, Theodore Acidophilus Junior. Theo I would like you to meet my brother, Arion.”

Arion was so surprised he forgot he did not believe in dragons - at first he saw a big bright red dragon tongue with a purple stripe down it, then a smile, that quickly becomes a red dragon, right in front of him in the water.

“Gosh, a live dragon! Hello Theo.” Then Arion asks,” Does Mum know he is here?”

“No,” says Matthew with a giggle. “We checked up close. Twice.”

Time for Theo’s swimming lessons. Theo said he only had streams and ponds where he lived, but none big enough to swim in. Soon he was floating so well he could take off the float rings. By the end of Saturday he could swim from one side of the swimming pool to the other.

“This is fun.” calls out Theo, “Watch how long I can hold my breath and sit on the bottom!” But he sat on the bottom so long that Arion got nervous and dragged him up to the top.

“Did I stay down longer than any of you can?” asks Theo, taking big gasping breaths.

“Much, much longer. But please don’t stay down that long again. Your face has gone all blue and your eyes are bulging!” worries Arion.

Just at that moment there was a call. “Boys, boys. Nearly time for dinner. Get out of the pool now and get the table and chairs out of the shed and put them over there under the trees. The weather is so lovely we’ll eat outside tonight. Why just look at that ocean of water you boys are leaving on the floor! You better wipe it up.”


That was the only time that Matthew’s mother come even close to discovering they had an extra visitor that weekend. Though, she was left with a couple of small mysteries. The boys seemed to eat much more than she expected, the cupboards were nearly empty. And then there were the conflicting stories about the guinea pigs.

to be continued...

Copyright: Lois E Hunter

lois.e.hunter2@gmail.com

Thursday, 10 November 2016

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND: HE'S SO COOL




Time out to Play


HE'S SO COOL

An elderly man with his slight stoop,
his brown corduroys, his checked
blue swandri, a towel around his neck
would not excite anyone’s interest
- nor would the bright red backpack
or the carton, string-tied, under his arm;

except he’s so intent to appear casual
and look like a regular boating man
- walking down the busy Mainland wharf
he reminds one of a Red Setter dog
with all muscles a-quiver when
it’s scented game – alerting
the ferry queue to turn and watch

as he hesitates and shades his eyes
then turns too quickly at a holler
from an old-time skipper
on an old-time launch
tied up to the left of the wharf.

His walk goes into slow-motion – cool,
he’s so cool, as he shrugs his backpack
to ease his shoulders and then resettles
the carton under his arm - but look, see
how he’s now walking up on his toes.

But he gives only the most casual, ‘hi,
weather looks good,’ as he hands over
the carton, then the backpack, before
climbing sprightly onto the deck
and immediately starts untying ropes
as the diesel coughs and chugs into life.

A couple of Islanders leave the queue
and wander over to observe
how his hands fumble as he unties
and then forgets to coil the ropes.

Two old codgers standing side by side
as the launch moves down the channel,
- one thinking that he can’t be seen
is happily patting the cabin-top
to an unheard tune and grinning widely
with his face upturned like a kid
to feel the Souwesterly wind.

“Doesn’t look like that poor bugger
is let out to play very often,” says
an Islander. The others sigh and
then nod in agreement.

Copyright: Lois E Hunter

lois.e.hunter2@gmail.com



Tuesday, 8 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON - PART 4


The Little Red Dragon continued....

Miss Grey is getting used to quick thinking from having a red dragon in her class. “Oops! “ She has dropped her sandwich into her lap. Mrs Hall immediately stops looking at Matthew and gets a tissue out of her bag. “Let me help you wipe up that mayonnaise and beetroot. What a mess!”

“The stain is spreading,” wails Miss Grey. ”My skirt will be ruined. I think I need to return to school so I can rinse the stain out.” And before Mrs Hall can protest she claps her hands and calls out,” Everyone into line, time to leave.”

When Miss Grey is back in her classroom she carefully shuts the door and all the windows before she says in a loud, cross voice. “Jack you were very naughty today. First the ladybirds, then there was the drama about the lizard. And what made you eat the two green caterpillars and the worm?”

The class sat very still and stared hard at Miss Grey. They knew the answer, why didn’t Miss Grey?

“Oh, I am so sorry Miss.” It wasn’t Jack who was answering, it was Theo. “It was me that ate the caterpillars and the worms. The ladybirds looked like spotted jewels. I didn’t know they would fly away when I touched them. And why did that nasty teacher want to shut a baby dragon up in a jar for? Was she going to eat it? I asked Jack to stop her because he has the biggest voice. We all thought she was mean.” And Theo hung his head and added, “I suppose you won’t want me in your class anymore?”

And for the very first time Miss Grey sees all of Theo clearly. Every single red shiny scale. His hung head, his long nailed hands twisting together. Did this mean she also totally believed in red dragons?

“Theo of course you can stay,” she answered in a kind voice. “I am sorry Jack. I am sorry class, I did not understand. Your behaviour was actually excellent today. Thank you for looking after our friend Theo so well. I think it was because I was nervous of our red dragon being discovered that made me so cross. “Matthew,” she asks, “would you open the door and windows again for me? Everyone can do quiet reading until home-time. I am going to the cloak room to rinse the stain out of my skirt.”

Miss Grey has a slight headache behind her eyes. It is not easy for a teacher to have a red dragon in her class.

Theo is reading his book with a big smile on his face and he whispers to himself. “Our friend, she called me. Miss Grey called me, our friend Theo. What a perfect day I’ve had!”



Miss Grey’s Birthday and the Adventure

For five days now Miss Grey has learnt to make a loud noise as she comes into Room Nine. Everyone who was whispering excitedly around Amy’s desk, stops and goes back to a desk. When Theo had started humming Happy Birthday, everyone hissed at him to hush and put their books up to cover their smiling faces.

Yes, it was going to be Miss Grey’s birthday on Thursday. The class had made a big birthday card with all their names on it and Amy’s mother was making a huge chocolate birthday cake. They had saved up enough money to buy Miss Grey a new cellphone, one that took photographs, for her birthday present. The problem was they had to go to a department store in the city to get it.

“I know how to get to the store,” says Matthew, “I’m used to going with my grandmother on the train.”

I thought of the idea of a cellphone as a present, so I should come too,” said Amy.

“Well if Matthew and Amy are going, then we should come too” said Michael and Marie together. And then Jack and Janice said they must come too.

“What about me? I haven’t been to a city yet.” begs Theo.

“But Theo, how can you travel on a train with your tail? Trains get crowded and people will trip over it.”

Everyone stood around and looked at Theo’s tail.
It was Jack who thought of how he could use a dog’s collar and lead to lift Theo’s tail so it became more like squirrel’s tail. Then Theo would be able to sit in a train seat as well.

The next day in the cloakroom after school, Jack buckled up a dog’s collar around Theo’s tail. He clipped the lead on the collar, brought the lead up around Theo’s chest and back down again to clip it back onto the collar. There! Theo’s tail stood up like a squirrel’s.

“Perfect, though it feels very strange,” said Theo. He walked around, then did a little dance and then a wriggle and the collar and lead stayed in place.

So off went Matthew, Jack, Amy, Marie, Michael, Janice, and of course Theo, their red dragon friend, went too, down to the railway station where they caught the 3.30 train to the city.

For a few minutes they had fun getting their invisible friend to open and shut the store’s big glass automatic doors and watching the shopper’s surprise, before they were off up the escalators to the third floor where the cellphones were sold.

“What colour do you think Miss Grey would like?” they asked each other. “There are so many colours to choose from.” But Theo just kept nudging them and pointing to the shiny red one. Finally they all agreed red was the very best choice. Amy gave the salesman the money and he put the phone in a box, then wrapped it in silver paper and finally tied a big red ribbon around it.




Matthew looks at his watch. “We still have some spare time. Let’s go and have a look at the toys!” And he leads the way in a rush to the escalator to go back down to the first floor where the toys were.

But they were so eager to go that they did not notice that Theo had stopped to look with surprise at an ‘in-store security television screen’ on the wall, showing his friends and the customers moving on it. When he turned around his friends were already half-way down the escalator! Theo rushed to the escalator, then had to stand back to let some people get on ahead of him. Then it was his turn, but now he was so anxious he was not watching properly and one of his claws on his right foot caught in the mat and down the escalator he tumbled. Bump. Ouch. Bump. Ouch. Bump. Ouch. And he landed all in a tangle out onto the second floor. That hurt. Theo wanted to howl out loud. Where were his friends?


The fall also made one of the clips on the lead come undone and his tail fell down. Theo could not do small things like do up lead-clips with his long nails. So, with one hand he held up his tail by the lead and his other hand he stretched backwards to hold the other side of his tail. In this way he rushed around the second floor looking everywhere for Matthew, Michael Amy, Jack, Marie and Janice. But of course he couldn’t find them anywhere there because they were all on the first floor looking at toys.


.To be continued:

Copyright: Lois E Hunter

lois.e.hunter2@gmail.com

Monday, 7 November 2016

THE LITTLE RED DRAGON - PART 3

The Little Red Dragon cont.


Wednesday’s list of words on the blackboard reads: The Great Ruby. Sarsaparilla. Pohutukawa. Red Mountain. “No, too red,” replied the dragon. Thursday’s list of words read: Theodore Junior. Titanic. Red Winston. Big John. “Not quite me, but nearly” sighs the dragon.

Very early on Friday morning, even before Miss Grey could read the 5th chapter about Jack and the bean seed, there was a tap at the classroom door and in walked the headmaster.

“All stand up for Mr Thoroughgood” calls Miss Grey.

“Good morning class,” says Mr Thoroughgood.

“Good morning Sir,” replies the class.

“You may sit down. I have come to look at the special chair that all the other teachers are talking about.” And the headmaster looked very hard at the dragon’s chair which was really very big.

Miss Grey thought quickly and before the headmaster could ask, or say anything more said, ”Oh you mean this chair? This is our storytelling chair. Anyone who is going to tell a story is allowed to sit in this chair.”

Headmasters often have very long names that are hard to remember and they like to use very long words. Mr Thoroughgood also thinks he is a very good storyteller. “If I may?” he asks Miss Grey and goes to sit in the chair. But no matter how hard he tries he can’t sit down because the red dragon is already sitting in it! The glass starts to giggle and Miss Grey in a little bit of a panic flaps her hand towards the chair, meaning, quick, quick, red dragon, get out of the chair and let the headmaster sit down!

On the 3rd try the headmaster sits down, makes himself comfortable and starts to tell a story about sailing ships and high seas and uses very, very long words, But when he sees one big yawn and then another adds pirates waving cutlasses and saying ‘yo ho ho’ and ‘walk the plank’. Then seeing the tears on Marie’s cheeks and him being a kind man says the pirates weren’t really bad. It was a hot day and the pirates used the gangplank as a diving board to go swimming. These pirates were very health conscious pirates and ate the very best yoghurt for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And Mr Thoroughgood got up and wrote up on the blackboard, right next to Theodore Junior,
acidophilus yogurt.

“I like yogurt,” said a deep grumble voice.

Miss Grey has a sudden coughing attack. The class coughs even louder. Everyone is coughing so much the headmaster thinks they must all be getting the flu. He forgets to finish his story and saying,“tut-tut and “oh dear” hurries out the door with a handkerchief over his nose.

Miss Grey starts smiling. Janice starts giggling, so is Amy. Jack is laughing. Matthew and Michael are laughing even more and soon the whole class is laughing too.

The dragon though is dancing up and down. “My name, my name, can I have that name?” And he points to the words Theodore Junior and beside them the headmaster’s word, acidophilus .

Miss Grey looks at the dragon. Then she looks at the class. They all nod.

“A good choice” she says, but instead we shall place the word junior at the end. I shall put you on the class roll as Theodore Acidophilus Junior, but we will call you Theo for short.”

On Monday morning, after reading the sixth and last chapter about Jack and the bean seed, Miss Grey calls out the class roll. She gets to Tania,
then to Ted, and then to Theo. “Theo?” she calls out.

“Present Miss!” calls out Theodore Acidophilus Junior. He is a very happy red dragon.


  


The Day of the Nature Walk

One morning, instead of starting the day with a story, Miss Grey said, “Today were going to sing a marching song.”

The class liked singing just as much as they liked listening to stories. And they sang very loud. Theo sang too, not quite in tune, but no one minded. Then, because they liked the marching song so much, they sang it again.

“Why we sang a marching song, is because today we are going to do something different. We are going to go on a nature walk to the park,” says Miss Grey “and Room Eight is coming with us.”

“Please Miss, does that mean all of us? Can Theo come too? asks Matthew.

Miss Grey has the feeling that the day could become very difficult. She replied, “It is a long walk to the park, do dragons like nature walks?

“Umm,” answers Theo, then, “ah!” Then he says, ”I don’t know. I have never been our of the school grounds.”

“Never been out of the school grounds Theo? says Miss Grey in surprise, “Can you tell us how you get here every morning?”
“I don’t really know,” answers Theo wriggling uncomfortably in his chair. “One moment I am at home, and the next moment, pop, I am here!”

Jack is waving his hand in the air. “Miss. Miss, we think it is because Matthew wrote a story about wanting a red dragon so much for a best friend. When we heard the story we all said we wanted a red dragon for a best friend too and next morning Theo was here!”

And everyone is smiling and talking at once – yes they agreed, we all thought that is why he came.

Miss Grey remembered Matthew with his red crew cut hair standing in front of the class and reading his red dragon story. It was a very good story; but she has no reply to the news of how a dragon came to be in her class other than to say it was very nice to have Theo in their class.

“Very well, Miss Grey continues, the question now is: if we take Theo with us who is going to look after him?” The first decision was that the group would have to walk at the back of the queue. Matthew would walk on the right side of Theo, Amy on the left side of him. Michael and Janice walk in the front and Jack and Marie would be behind, but a bit further back - to allow for the length of a dragon’s tail. “We can’t have anyone from Room eight bumping into an invisible dragon tail, said Miss Grey.” Then she said sternly, “Theo, if you are going to come with us you must promise me you are not going to talk!”

Theo promised and then chanted very fast for a whole five minutes, “I am going to the park. I am going to the Park,” to get all his talking out of his mouth.

Room Eight and Room Nine lined up on the tennis court. They each had a sunhat on and their lunch, notebook and pencils in their backpacks. Mr Thoroughgood walks by and calls out, “Room Nine are you feeling better from your flu?”

“Yes thank you sir,” they replied in unison, including Theo in his deep grumble voice. “Shhhh,” hissed Miss Grey. “Shhh,” went Room Nine, much louder. Together it sounded like one enormous sneeze. Poor Mr Thoroughgood he smiled faintly and said’ “Fine. Fine. Carry on,” as he pulled out his handkerchief and hurried away.

Theo tried very hard, but he had to talk - but he talked as quietly as he could. Everything he was looking at he had only seen before in the school library books. It was so exciting. He saw and heard a dog bark. He saw flowers and houses and cars and buses.

Matthew, Amy, Jack, Marie, Michael and Janice were kept very busy looking after the red dragon. They kept whispering things to him like, “No Theo, please do not eat those lady’s flowers.” “Stop barking back at that dog.” “No, we are not going to race that car.” ”No, no, that little girl does not want to be hugged, come on” “But she is so cute!” Theo replied. Fortunately everyone else was talking so much they weren’t overheard.

“What a nice day we are having, said Miss Grey to Mrs Hall who was the teacher for Room eight as they all sat under the trees eating their lunch. They had found slaters, and an earwig, a lot of red spotted ladybirds, a very long worm, two green caterpillars and a lizard. The class had taken down notes and drawn lots of sketches of them.






But Mrs Hall was looking very hard at Marie, Jack, Michael, Janice, Amy and Matthew sitting in a circle. “Have you noticed how those children have been acting strange all day?” she asked. ”And the way they always walk in a circle giggling and whispering. I was taken aback when Jack shouted we were murderers when I put that lizard in a jar and then all your girls all started crying so much I had to let it go!  And was it also Jack who ate those two green caterpillars and the worm? Why, look at them now – Matthew is spooning yoghurt into the empty air!”

to be continued:

Copyright : Lois E. Hunter

lois.e.hunter2@gmail.com