Monday, August 15, 2005

What did the chicken say when it went to the library?
Book book book book book book book!

'Former Spice Girl singer Victoria Beckham, the wife of England soccer captain David, has confessed she has never read a book...... she said she never had a spare moment to leaf through anything more challenging than fashion magazines.'

The above article - in today's paper and all over the web - is just too much of a gift for a lazy social commentator like me to ignore. The poor, starving, bulgari-wearing bag of bones - fancy not having any time other than to leaf through some fashion mags!

Perhaps Posh is just too busy with her three kids, the rigorous exercise program, locating the next gin and tonic, keeping tabs on David's whereabouts, clothes shopping and avoiding food? It must be awful having to deal with all of that on your own when your hubby's busy running after a round leather ball. Our hearts surely must go out to her.

After all, we too can all identify with never-ending domestic workloads that rob us of any 'me time', can't we?

Getting out of bed an hour before your kids do in order to put through a load of washing, make their school lunches, iron their uniforms (and your jeans), find some money for their excursion permission form, give the dog some breakfast, dash to the corner shop for some milk.... all before waking up our protesting little darlings in order to get them dressed, fed, clean and bags packed and in their classrooms before the bell rings. And of course it is on the way to school that they tell you that they were supposed to bring along an Aboriginal artefact for show-and-tell that morning and some fruit to share with the rest of the class. And no, their banana isn't acceptable, it has to be something different like a five-corner fruit or lychees as part of the class's weekly celebration of Funny Foreign Fruit Week or some such.....

Posh and I do have one thing in common apart from a working uterus. Admittedly, glossy magazines are also a big feature in my life. It is a guilty pleasure to flip through the pages over lunch in order to laugh at the stars' photos when they're caught without makeup, and to console oneself that they too struggle with their marriages, careers, children and appearances. Even with the mere help of their nannies, personal trainers, in-house chefs (someone has to wash those lettuce leaves), stylists, manicurists, make-up artists, gardeners, masseurs, yoga teachers, cleaners and personal assistants, they often don't get it right.

Yet we plebs soldier on and still manage to read a novel or two as well, don't we? Despite not having any paid help. I would not have heard of - or read- fantastic novels like Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones', Jodie Picoult's 'My Sister's Keeper', or Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' if other school mums hadn't raved about them and been prepared to lend them to me. After our daughter is in bed, the dishes done and the TV guide consulted and thrown back on the coffee table in disgust, my husband and I often realise that it's the ideal time for reading. We pile up the pillows and jump under the doona in our room for a nice, quiet read. Oh yessirreee, that bedroom's seen some real literary action - Joe Simpson's 'Touching the .....void', Hugh Lunn's 'Head over Heels,' Sian Rees' 'The Floating Brothel', Arthur Golden's 'Memoirs of a Geisha' and Annie Proulx's 'That old ace in the hole.' Moby Dick is still in the 'to read' pile on my bedside table, as is 'How to be Good' by Nick Hornby...

The twenty minute bus trip in to work was also time I looked forward to. It was an opportunity to not only save the cost of petrol but also to have two twenty-minute sessions a day for uninterrupted reading. It was often annoying to find that it was my stop if I was engrossed in a particularly good book. Once I looked up to find that my bus had long since gone through town and was then on its merry way to the seaside at Glenelg - Charles Frazier's 'Cold Mountain' had simply been too engrossing. Perhaps I could pop a paperback - in large print, nothing too strenuous, like a Harlequin romance or a Jeffrey Archer - in her limo for her to read on her way the next Dolce and Gabbana store opening?

If that's still too hard, I'd like to think that, if Posh Spice could only handle a fashion magazine at night after her monstrously busy day of um, getting dressed and um, what - writing so many hit songs, devloping the cure for cancer, ending African poverty and finding Osama's hideout - she could still find a minute or two to read a book to her sons.

There are so many classics that are a pleasure to read out loud to your kid and see them enjoy the momentum of the words and the pictures on each page. Eric Carle's 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', Babette Cole's 'Bad Habits', Lynley Dodd's 'Hairy Maclary' series and anything by Dr Suess, Pamela Allen and Beatrix Potter. At the very least, maybe their nanny is reading these to the lads, even if Posh is advising them that Italian vogue is announcing that fur is so, like, three months ago.

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