MOMENT IN THE SUN: WORLD BOOK DAY
The great thing about having children over the age of say, eleven, is that you are no longer subject to the stress and panic surrounding World Book Day.
I had no idea, when my children first started school, about how big a deal this whole day would become. Stupid me for thinking it was all about a celebration of books and authors.
It is actually a competition to prove how good a mother you are.
You will be deemed to be a rubbish mother if, like me, you sent your child to school in his jeans and a red jumper, carrying a large glass bottle and a wooden spoon and declared him to be George from George’s Marvellous Medicine.
You will be deemed to be a fantastic mother if you stay up all night creating the very hungry caterpillar from a sleeping bag or waking your child an hour earlier than normal so you can do intricate face painting to suggest Fantastic Mr Fox.
Some mothers will throw money at the problem.
There are huge operations online selling costumes precisely aimed at the World Book Day market. Ask the Duchess of Cambridge. Her mum has added a range of boys’ and girls’ WBD outfits to her Party Pieces business, starting from £10.99.
Even Lidl is in on the act with low rent Willy Wonka and Alice in Wonderland available from £4.99.
Everybody is making money out of it.
And here’s the thing. I bet none of the Alice in Wonderlands who turned up to school in shop bought outfits on Thursday has ever read the book.
We are kidding ourselves if we think children are curling up in an armchair at the weekend reading classic children’s literature.
They’re not. They’re playing on their tablets, they’re being dragged around retail outlets and they’re watching hours of stuff on Netflix. Like the rest of us.
World Book Day is much more about films.
Most of the children turning up as Harry Potter won’t have read the books; they will have seen the films.
And, if further evidence of the influence of cinema on World Book Day were needed, you only have to remember the eleven year old kid who turned up to school dressed as Christian Grey from ‘Fifty Shades.’
What kind of mother that made his, I’m not inclined to speculate.
As a book lover I hoped my own children would follow in my footsteps. I imagined them reading under the covers by torch light as I did.
I envisaged them crying over the death of Flag in ‘The Yearling’ (spoiler alert) or laughing at William Brown’s antics with the Outlaws.
But they are children of the digital age. They’ve grown up with mobile phones, games consoles and subscription TV. All the cajoling, bribing and encouraging didn’t turn them into book readers.
Happily now, it is not just the ‘well read’ who are held in high social regard.
ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall suggested this week that being ‘well watched’ has become as important as being well read and that dinner party talk these days dissects TV as it once dissected classic novels.
Brilliantly, this means that watching TV with your children qualifies as social and educational quality time.
Hurrah! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an episode of Fleabag to catch up on…
UNDER A CLOUD: LK BENNETT
It’s not been a great week for Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. Ok, so her inheritance might have grown a little through sales of World Book Day costumes, but one of her favourite fashion retailers has gone bust.
LK Bennett went into administration and teeters on the brink of collapse.
A little part of me is rather sad about this, because from time to time I have bought the odd garment there but I understand why it’s happened.
When you pay £225 for a dress – as you might in LK Bennett – you don’t want the label to say ‘made in China’ or ‘made in Vietnam’ because that’s what the labels in clothes from Primark or Zara say. And their clothes are often a tenth of the price.
But that’s what the LK Bennett labels do say. And it’s hard to justify spending that sort of loot and lying to your husband afterwards when you know you could look good for less.
I’ll bet Kate and William have had that same conversation too.