The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

New fridge magnets for the cottage

magnetic alphabetI’ve just bought some more magnetic letters for the fridge to replace the ones that Inca guzzled last week. We play with these a lot, leaving jokey messages for each other. The alphabet letters are also a major means of communication between Danny and My Mother, who has been know to dash into Newmarket and buy another pack just to finish a sentence.

I had what can only be described as a mottled education. I enjoyed primary school and the set up was perfect for me. I loved the signs that were papered across every inanimate item in my classroom so we could match the word to the object. If only this was de rigueur now, I’m sure my spelling would improve.

I remember the day when our teacher wrote “A” followed by “a” on the blackboard and stood back to observe our reactions. When I heard her explanation I shook with excitement. My brother and sister had already filled me in. This was the alphabet. With this code I would be able to read. If I could read, I could do anything.

Years ago there were no books or games for making spelling fun. There wasn’t much except alphabet spaghetti. As the youngest child, the letters that I could fish out spelt handy words like at, by, to and on. My teacher had explained that these were useful “linking words.” My brother and sister weren’t impressed.

They were grappling with the likes of atomic combustion lizard energy (my brother, Mark had a passing interest in reptiles), entomology (I didn’t ask about this word), and geography (my sister, Sara, explained that this was how to find the place where the bull and cow live). I was curious about this bull. My sister, already a grand master of suspense, assured me that she would explain, later.

I lay in the bottom bunk in our darkened bedroom. Finally there was a creak from the top bunk as my sister turned over. The bull and the cow were the characters in a joke that she’d made up. Did I want to hear it? Yes please.
“Why did the bull rush?”
I hadn’t a clue.
“Because he saw the cow slip.”

This comment felled all natural learning ebullience in an instant. My sister was brainy and older and I trusted her completely. Her joke rattled me deeply. This was the first time that I had heard anything really clever. I can remember lying in our bunk beds and asking her again if this was really her joke. I stared at the gap in the curtains and the light flooding in (we were sent to bed at six p.m.) as she confidently explained that of course she had made up the joke.

Facing the wall in the bottom bunk I knew that I would never ever be clever enough to match this joke. The desolation had no bounds.

The only way out was to die. Or give up school. The problem was I just didn’t have the nerve to suggest either exit to my mother.

Amazon has a good selection of alphabetic fridge magnets.


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