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Contains Mild Peril

The kidlit world is getting its undies in a right old knot over publishers’ plans to include age guidance on children’s books. Those against include, well, probably every children’s writer you’ve ever heard of. Except for Meg Rosoff who, in typical fashion, is swimming against the tide, and thinks it might be quite handy for the humble book-buying punter.

Me? I’m with Mighty Meg.

Books aren’t unpackaged and unmediated. They come with covers carefully designed to target a specific audience: cupcakes and faces for girlies, logos for boys, artsy graphics for ‘serious’. (Foil and shiny bits for everyone: we’re all magpies, apparently.) Even the author’s name is retooled for the market where possible. Betcha I wouldn’t be ‘Susie’ if I wrote action thrillers for 10-year-old boys.

But all of these are inexplicit devices, and on occasion quite subtle ones. (I’ve not heard it stated aloud, but I’m fairly sure the colour scheme of the US edition of serafina67 doesn’t quietly evoke Lauren Myracle’s ttyl by accident.) The No To Age Banding posse point out that kids study these tricks of the trade in school. True: I’ve taught that lesson (and it’s gold: nothing gets a book-deprived disinterested class engaged better than getting them to redesign The Hobbit, even if it might end up a bit gorier than you remember, with considerably more grenades and rocket launchers). But it’s not kids who hand over the cash in the bookshop. And as a grown-up who reads kidlit avidly, I still find myself at nephew-birthday time wondering if I’m about to cause family meltdown with a gift that includes oral sex under its Spiderman wrapping paper.

Let’s get this clear: no 9-year-old booknut is going to be arrested for possession of an 11+ rated novel. Alarms will not sound throughout the local library, sending masked men with AK47s to shoot dead gay Dumbledore out of Little Johnny’s hands. If we can credit young readers with understanding book covers as marketing devices, we can also grant them the wit to interpret age banding in exactly the same way: as information which serves a specific purpose, and can be ignored and discarded if you think you know better. Meanwhile us crumbly types can be reassured that by buying a book we aren’t effectively taking a 7-year-old to a 12A film, only to have to carry them out, sobbing uncontrollably, after the ninth beheading.

Timing means everything in literature. I firmly believe that every copy of The Catcher In The Rye should come stamped with ‘not to be read if over 18: may cause nausea’. Martin Amis’s early works should explode off one’s bookshelf after the age of 25 in case you’re tempted to revisit, and discover that what seemed ‘like totally postmodern man, whoa’ back in the day now feels a bit studenty and crap. No kid is going to be heinously scarred by reading outside what is designated ‘age-appropriate’ – but I fail to see how they’ll suffer from a little guidance. We’re in a second Golden Age of children’s writing. Magnificent new books get published every day. A little help finding the ones you’ll get the most out of is no bad thing.

book_mini The Last of the Warrior Kings, Sarah Mussi (YA, 12+, contemporary thriller). Regular readers will know Sarah is an old mate, who despite being an award-winning and nominated-for-more-award-winning author, still deigns to associate with the likes of me. 🙂 Much as I’d love to annoy her with a bad review, the bloody woman continues to write such uniquely funny, brainy, pacy stuff that I’m stuck with the usual effusions of dribbly praise. If you’ve read her Door of No Return, you’ll know to expect movie-worthy action and thrills, bonkers plot twists, heartbreakingly accurate teenage characters, and a serious dose of education on African issues. Last of the Warrior Kings manages to revisit the same territory while feeling utterly fresh, largely thanks to hero Max, whose endearingly hapless efforts to save the day and win the unattainable girl (all while keeping his expensive trainers pristine) can’t help but draw you in. It seems cheeky to highlight the sillier side of a story that has genuine darkness at its heart: Sarah’s not naive about her own South London, and the harsh realities of gang warfare now are accompanied by the no less grim history of C19th British intervention in Nigeria. But this is a fundamentally uplifting book about finding a way to live your life well no matter what hand fate has dealt you, with plenty of daft gags along the way and an ending that will really linger in the mind. Quite infuriatingly good. Stop making the rest of us look inadequate, dammit!

pencil_mini Had a typically spectacular weekend with my writing group (the evil Mussi included), who kindly held my hand through a bit of Biscuits & Lies structural paranoia, and, as always, fed me till I was barrel-like. I’m now back to too much thinking and not enough typing. And the realisation that I now have three separate characters called Simon. This is going to be an interesting editing experience…

rocrastination_mini Mourning the loss of Lovely Lucinda from The Apprentice; finding new things to hate about Indy IV (while coveting Lego Indy); playing Prince of Persia on someone’s PS2 (this is what old-skool looks like now? gosh); staring, open-mouthed, at this…er…unusual cover version of Rihanna’s Umbrella (T: isn’t that Arbruzzi in a wig?).


38 thoughts on “Contains Mild Peril”

  1. Very well put Susie – love the idea of the warning on Catcher In the Rye. I foolishly saved that up until I was too old for it and found it quite fabulously tedious.

    And they should mark UP the books with oral sex. I know which books I’d have looked for as a teenager. Hmm but then my Mum would have known too. What i needed was a genre so uninteresting to her that even opening the book was a chore, but unexpectedly crammed with eye-popping and instructional sexual content.

    Prob explains why I discovered Blake’s 7 fanfic…

  2. I didn’t read Catcher till I was about 20, by which time Holden Caulfield came off as a right tosser. Suspect I would’ve thought he was amazing if I’d been 12.

    I presume the ‘but Mum will know I’m reading the books with naughty sex parts’ aspect is part of what the furore’s all about, at least at the upper end of the age limit. And I can understand why some authors are a bit squeaky: how do you categorise something like His Dark Materials? Does feel like a storm in a teacup, though. The Beeb have just run a tres helpful news report implying that the age banding will take up half the back cover and flash in neon I AM READING A BOOK FOR 7-YEAR-OLDS EVERYONE!!! Mmm, impartiality.

    (Was much amused to see you pop up in the Meg Rosoff thread, btw. The internet is so tiny sometimes.)

  3. I hated ‘Catcher in the Rye’ so much I can’t even put it into words. Yes, I was too old. I thought Holden was the biggest waste of space imaginable – not sure I even finished it.

    Yes, with you on the guidance. I think lots of people are put off buying new books for kids for fear of getting it dramatically wrong. And of course, as ever, all anyone is interested in is the sex angle (or the violence and death angle, for the ones who trouble to think for, ooh, a couple of seconds). As a book buyer, it’s also quite helpful to have some guidance on age-appropriateness in terms of the complexity of the language and ideas. As you say, both children and adults are quite capable of taking this information and working out where the reader is likely to sit in terms of their emotional and linguistic maturity (Kids are surprisingly good at this. I remember a certain young woman I know taking a Judy Blume someone had given her to her mum and saying, ‘I don’t think I’m old enough for this yet.’) Said mum advised me against reading Anne Frank’s diary when I started it aged about 8, telling me I’d get more out of it if I waited a few years. I read it a few years later and she was spot on. I’m very glad (though slightly surprised, thinking about it!) I took her advice.

    I’m concerned about presenting kids with gifts which might alarm or confuse them, and I’m also concerned about giving them books which might make them decide that books are boring/too difficult/confusing. And sadly, I don’t really have time to read them all myself these days. 😦 I think some low-key recommendations are quite helpful.

  4. I think I’d probably come down in the “anti” camp, although I can see merits on both sides.The suggested banding system seems to me to draw too much on the film censorship model, with a focus on sex/violence/drugs rather than on the maturity required to appreciate the book. Generally I have found that books aimed at kids which contain possibly inappropriate content have warning messages (Big Woo being a good example, the later Cherub novels is another) although this is not always the case. The Princess Diaries nearly caught me out – fortunately my habit of reading all books before they go on the class bookshelf (a great excuse to read kidlit and call it work!!!) saved me from grief on that one.

    Children who struggle with reading are definitely not going to motivated to read more if the books they can decode/understand have “Age 7” on the front and they are aged 11. I have seen children hide their banded school reading book inside another, or stare aimlessly at the same page of LOTR for days to avoid the embarrassment of being seen with what they regard as an uncool choice.

    Recommendations are helpful, but surely that’s what good bookshops are there for?

  5. Jess: Holden Caulfield, despised by generations! As I understand it, the intention is for the banding to refer to content, rather than reading ability, which is where I think it’s got legitimacy. Am dying to know who the not-ready-for-Judy kid was! I seem to remember getting the same advice from you re Anne Frank: must’ve wanted to read your copy and you told me to wait a bit (with same ‘glad I did’ results).

    I’m sure I read lots of things that contained ‘inappropriate’ content and have not imploded as a result: reread a Robert Westall a few years ago which I remembered as being a nice story about time travel, and which actually had lots of shagging in it – somehow my kid brain just skipped all that stuff, which I suppose questions the need for that much anxious parenting. Still, I enjoyed it much more on the reread (not in a ‘ooh, shagging!’ way, just was a different – and more interesting – book than I was mature enough to get the hang of). Hate the idea of people snatching books out of kids’ hands, obviously. But still, there’s not a shortage of things to read: saving them for later doesn’t seem too awful…

    Nicky: good to have the coal-front teacher view! I think the tricky part is that it’s being assumed that this is no different from the banded reading scheme books in school, where the focus is absolutely on reading level not content (of which there is usually sod all anyway). In theory, it’s just an extension of what the cover’s already telling you – but which (as with Meg Cabot, Rennison etc) can be a bit lacking in detail. Not everyone’s going to bother taking the time to read the book beforehand like you – not should they have to, really.

    That said, the problem of kids who are struggling finding suitable stuff to read isn’t going to be helped if it makes every book feel like a reading scheme, where you have to graduate to the next level or show off to your mates how ‘ahead’ you are. While the ‘content not ability’ thing works in theory, in practice I can’t think of many examples of books where a presumed reading age and a presumed set of interests don’t go hand in hand, because that’s what sells. And I hate the idea of writers ending up trimming (or indeed adding) just to ‘fit’ the 12A-esque categorisations just as much as anything which might put off kid readers.

    Grrr! I want to live in a magical world where reading isn’t something anyone ever needs to feel anxious or competitive about, and where the bookshops are indeed peopled with brilliant people who can give fabulous guidance. *goes off looking for wand*

  6. What do you mean you “hate the idea of writers ending up trimming (or indeed adding) just to ‘fit’ the 12A-esque categorisations just as much as anything which might put off kid readers.” ???

    We are already there. That’s what’s vaguely sweet about the whole row; the assumption that ‘censorship’ isn’t already operating at two levels LONG before the bookshops:
    1. Who and what gets to be published
    2. What children’s authors are allowed to put in their books.

    Basically, this is an idea with supporting evidence from market research about how to sell more books.

    What does it say about authors that they are up in arms about an evidence-led model to sell more of their books?

    Now if the evidence is wrong, then I’m not sure I’m in favour. From what I’ve seen there’s at least enough evidence to suggest trying it for a while – as an experiment if nothing else.

  7. I don’t know much about school reading schemes but don’t they focus more on what words are included, rather than how confusing the actual language or concepts might be (the interface between content and ‘reading age’ I suppose?) After all, aren’t even broadsheet newspapers supposed to have a ‘reading age’ of 12 or something, but still manage to have articles and editorials on complex economic or social ideas (setting aside the rapes, stabbings, wars etc). I guess I was thinking more of baffling or boring a child with a story that made no sense to them than confounding them with too many long words. I suppose confident readers will skim over what they don’t understand anyway, whether that’s long words or shagging, but they’re not the ones to worry about.

    I think it’s interesting that a lot of the debate seems to focus on parents as book-buyers. As far as I remember the vast majority of my reading was from the library (school or public) so chosen by myself, or from gifts from relatives and family friends. (Not a criticism of my parents – just books were mostly presents.) I guess it’s those buyers who need the most help.

  8. It is one of those things that seems to be a storm in a teacup. Children’s books are already censored and already age-rated. Maybe it’s a cunning plan for authors to get some publicity? But my book has mild sexual content and if it were to be stated on the cover then parents wouldn’t let their children read it even though it’s educationally beneficial… suddenly hoards of pre-teens pound a path to the bookshop to buy the book. Maybe not that excessive but you get my point.

    Catcher in the Rye I read when I was nineteen and thought he was an arse and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Mind, I thought the same about Lady Chatterley’s Lover. What the heck version of Ann Frank were you reading? I thought the edition with m*st*rb*t**n and l*sb**nism didn’t come out till the nineties. Erk! I used those words and you might have impressionable teens reading your blog Susie! Slap a censor sticker over it right now!

  9. Well, unless I was doing the same with Anne Frank as Susie did with the Robert Westall above, I’m pretty sure they weren’t there when I read it! I was just thinking of the writing about her feelings for ?Peter (I think there might have been several Peters, one of whom was in the attic, but it is now 20 years or so since I read it…) and about how she felt about her periods. Both of which I might or might not have understood at 8, but I don’t think I’d have found all that interesting. I obviously need to go back and reread it, not least to discover the bits they’ve put back in!!

  10. I read a bit where she’s getting a bit frisky with a (girl) friend before things get really awful, and around the time when the proverbial is hitting the fan she’s talking about her body changes and touches herself in front of a mirror. It’s all quite poignant rather than racy but even so, I can see why it was censored when it was on the O level syllabus.

  11. um, when I say I can see why, I don’t mean that I agree with it being censored. Anyone who wants to read Anne Frank and is mature enough to understand what it would mean to be locked away during this period of your life should go for the ‘grown up’ version.

    Hey, wouldn’t it be interesting if this book banding thing was put onto the two different versions of Anne Frank? Wonder which one would sell more. And is it more ‘mature’ to include allusions to some gentle sexual exploration or to include allusions to the torture and murder of millions of people. Hmm.

  12. okay, I know you’re getting really sick of me now, and there are plenty of other things for me to be doing right now, but this is one of those things that I get a bee in my bonnet about (no, really? says Susie). And seeing as we can’t edit our comments on your blog, Susie, I have to post again just to give you the reference for that book. This is the one with the girl-on-girl action (well, actually more like non-action because the other girl wasn’t into it!) Whether this means that Anne would have grown up gay or was just naturally curious we’ll never know.

    Frank, Anne; Massotty, Susan (translation); Frank, Otto H. & Pressler, Mirjam (editors) (1995). The Diary of a Young Girl – The Definitive Edition. Doubleday. ISBN 0-553-29698-1.

  13. Blimey, Josie, can’t leave you alone for five minutes!

    I think I must’ve read a censored version: don’t remember any of that, just Anne having the occasional lustful thought after Peter (although Jess is right, there were two Peters: v confusing). Odd to think people fear the kiddies might implode at the merest whiff of sexual activity on the page, given what it’s really about – but I imagine that was an effort to be sensitive to her as a real individual with a right to some degree of privacy, even in a published diary. Tricky editorial decisions all round.

  14. Another book to hang a warning on: The Wasp Factory. I read it aged 16 and was thrilled by its nihilistic and misanthropic world from the point of view of a disturbed teenager with an even more disturbed father and brother. It was inspiring, relevant and thought-provoking. Like a book version of London’s Calling. Yeah! Take that, parents! See me express rage and discontent at stuffy, conservative, South Wales life by reading a book. YEAH!!!!!

    Read it recently, and discovered it was a grubby little scrote of a novella with page upon page of descriptive prose about torturing various animals. It’s probably best appreciated after staggering back from The Railway in a haze of Baileys, Strongbow and Apple Hooch, with a belly full of Doner Kebab from the kiosk, and a brain fizzing with radical teenage ideas and the urge to vomit and/or snog someone.

    As I have done nothing of the sort for a decade (I now stagger upstairs after a raging hot chocolate and a thrilling night on the sofa watching Heroes, and a brain churning with bank charges and the task of putting out the recycling tomorrow morning), the literary thrust of Iain Banks’ seminal debut was lost on me, second time around.

  15. Oh rarg, you take me back… That kiosk is still there, I think, deploying manky chips and curry sauce to all. Does Apple Hooch still exist, though?

    I read The Wasp Factory when I was about 19 (and v hungover as I recall: the maggoty bit was most unwelcome). I remember thinking it was ok, but a bit try-hard on the shock front: have read much better stuff of his since (Complicity’s good – or I thought it was back in the day: you’d get a kick out of Espedair Street, I reckon, as it’s about hedonistic ex rock gods and is allegedly based on Fish out of Marillion, your very favourite band). I don’t remember having a Clash-related epiphany about it, though. Maybe it was a boy thing 😛

    Hot choc and Heroes sounds like a stellar evening. Definitely preferable to a Doner and vom, anyway. *is old*

  16. rarg – that made me laugh a big lot… Yes, I remember enjoying the Wasp Factory after S recommended it, so logically about 21. I must have been right on the cusp as I remember enjoying it, but being very aware that I must Never Reread this book, because I won’t like it again. It backs up my theory of Iain Banks, which is that his books are either great (Complicity, The Crow Road, Dead Air, Espedair Street), or utter, utter shite (A Song of Stone – genuinely the worst book I have ever read by about a trillion miles. So bad it was worth finishing to see if it could stay that bad, and it got worse), or a very confusing mixture of the two (The Bridge, Whit, The Business). Not mediocre, just somehow great and rubbish at the same time.

  17. Susie – yeah, I thought that, and it is tricky. Also I wondered how much it had to do with Otto Frank being selective about how he wanted his daughter portrayed. Which sort of blows the whole ‘Otto wrote it himself’ theory out of the water, unless he was a complete perv and very clever to double-bluff like that.

    Rarg – oh perfect joy! Hot choc and Heroes. Certainly preferable to apple Hooch, bleh. Mind you I still do have those radical teenage ideas even after *cough* twenty years, and urge to snog someone (which is possibly even less likely to happen now than then, sigh). But it’s a case of the brain is willing and the body is weak. Mostly I settle for beer and curry, with some shouting at Sex and the City on the side. I read The Wasp Factory early one morning when I couldn’t sleep at age approx 25 and was totally engrossed but also grossed. Still have flashbacks to the spoon-in-the-baby’s-brain scene. I was perturbed at the portrayal of a teen with OCD and how it ended especially. I still don’t know whether I think it’s a good book or not. I suppose if ‘good book’ is one that gets you thinking then yeah. I think it’s the only Iain Banks book I’ve read, so it didn’t prompt me to rush out and buy all his others!

  18. Jess: you have uncannily accurately summed up The Wasp Factory there with the ‘I’m enjoying this but know somehow it can’t be revisited’ thing. I think I had the same thought: that it was ‘good enough’ rather than intrinsically ‘good’. Am now trying to remember the name of the Iain Banks I used as a window-prop in an an Inverness youth hostel, and saw topple three floors to an inaccessible patio below after I’d read a scant ten pages. Think it was Whit: probably shall stop mourning…

    Josie: have never looked into it, but had no idea there was even an ‘Otto wrote it himself’ conspiracy. How depressing. Re Wasp Factory: the ending does feel a bit pastede on yay, as I recall – like he wanted to do something shocking, but without there necessarily being any other reason for it. But since right now constructing a coherent finished novel seems like some mythical thing that happens to other people, griping seems a bit cheeky. *wonders if maggots would enhance B&L*

  19. Really didn’t know about that conspiracy Susie? Think it may have been some of the same people who were all ‘the holocaust never happened you are all lying Hitler was actually a lovely man who liked animals etc.’ But yeah, ‘Otto wrote it himself’ was big in the early nineties, then the definitive edition came out.

    Did you run down three floors and try to climb through window after said book, or were ten pages enough?

    Think maybe maggots would enhance B&L if possibly discovered amongst rotting clothes in a dark corner somewhere, but please not in brains. I couldn’t read that a second time.

    Have just befriended Sera on MySpace. Yay for me I got first comment! Win!

    (think you might be able to tell from the tone of post that I’m back into the book? Mm, yeah.)

    BTW did you see my latest blog post I am SHORTLISTED wh-hoo, win win!

  20. Doner Kiosk (aka the doner nobis pacem) – Heaven on Earth. Best burgers bar none, and chunky great chips with garlic (simon) mayo. That’s my memory anyway, and my memory is admittedly fudged somewhat by the aforementioned apple hooch (nowhere to be found these days. Kids don’t know what they’re missing out on). For all I know, the burgers were made of lost cat, and the chips were courtesy of Neil Shepherdson squeezing his spots into the fryer. Mind you, after a skinful at The Railway I would have eaten anything. Up to, and including, sea serpent – as long as it was served with chips and simon mayo.

    I am indeed familiar with a fair proportion of Iain Banksy’s output, being one of the few fiction authors I will actually read. I’m even familiar with the odd one or two where he attempts to write Dune and confuse everyone by adding an “M” into his name.

    Susie: Maggots are essential in any book. They add a nice, gross-out ‘chilled monkey brains’ moment, and they’re full of protein. Try it out, you’ll see.

  21. BTW, my definition of Heaven on Earth depends on whether your concept of Heaven includes fast food served to you by guys who used to try and beat you up, and Earth is a small Welsh seaside town on a Friday night post-pub and pre-Tels.

    Please note, I never went to Tels.

  22. *fast food served to you by guys who used to try and beat you up* oh how I’d love to get that. But only when I’m a bestselling author. 🙂

  23. What makes Lego 16+ ? Are the little men anatomically correct? The mind boggles….

    Given that the average 10 year old can put together Lego models far more competently than most adults can assemble flat pack furniture, are the 16+ kits simplified?
    Maybe we should ask Lego to write the instructions for Ikea!

  24. Rarg: I’ve been to Tel’s. Only once. As is fitting. Still, I feel it’s a necessary part of teenage experience to go to a nightclub above a shoe shop that’s the size of a living room and lit by fairy lights from Argos. (Possibly it has grown since then. It’s still there, though: how brilliant.)

    Grin: I’m trying to place the name and failing (despite knowing who you are!) Yay grown-up lego though. I constructed a Star Wars thing when I was approaching 30 which was clearly beyond my official age range: instructions are always good for those of us less techno-gifted than your good self.

    Nicky: I’m not sure they make 16+ Lego. Yet. But you have hit on a magnificent marketing arena…

    Elanor: well, surprise! Though seriously, you have no idea how pink it is. I suspect Jordan might think it was a touch extreme. It’s possibly the pinkest thing I’ve ever seen. (Pictures forthcoming, since I have one of the very first copies in my possession. I can make toast by its reflected neon glow, pretty much. You will love it, I promise. Oh and hello! Nice to see you here. :P)

  25. Want signed copy of US edition! (Though won’t fight over it promise!!) Not for scary pink, but for cool ascii art.

    Tels has reopened as ‘club eclipse’. They had bouncers and a rope outside it the other evening to manage the queue. There wasn’t one.

  26. I went to Eclipse grand opening! They hired girls to hang around outside looking sexy, young and thin so when me and Alys turned we were ushered in very quickly, along with the politicians and newsreaders. We left early and went to a nice restaurant for Indian dinner at nearly midnight.

    They do so have 16+ Lego – I saw it at Legoland so there, and it’s Star Wars and apparently 16+ due to complexity not anatomical features.

    Can we roast marshmallows over your American cover next time the Talents meet up?

    I have just read the wedding scene LOLZ and can totally tell that you stayed up all night drinking coffee to write that, darling. And it’s so fab, that is obvs what you need for your genius writing flair to reveal itself. Especially like the ‘I can has’ speech. Have been sniggering and choking on my sensible chicken wrap during lunch hour while sensible colleagues tut-tut.

  27. Jess: once I get my pile o’ pink books in August, I shall fling signed ones about with abandon. Especially to people who speak ascii. 😛

    Josie: I’m thinking that was a different Eclipse (presumably in Cardiff – really can’t imagine anyone non-‘narthian heading for Tel’s). At least you got nice dinner! And glad my caffeinated ramblings amuse. Maybe I need to write everything in a dark chocolate and coffee haze at 3am from now on…

  28. Susie, no it was in Penarth – next to Starbucks and we drove past it several times before we realised that it was the place we were supposed to go to, as we had unhelpfully not been informed that it was upstairs and we should just look for a door. Didn’t you know that for people in Cardiff, Penarth is like the West End and you only get invited to grand openings if you’re posh? Suspect you’re all falling about laffing by now but it is true, honest!

  29. oh yeah, the chocolate at three am thing, more of that pls. it was totally lolarious and I loved it. Have finished the book now and even read the back bits and love the VTN. Now I have to buy several more copies to stop my friends’ daughters from stealing my precious signed copy!

  30. ahahahahahahahahahahaha. Don’t make me fall over, Josie, it’s very hard to get up again when you’re nearly 8 months pregnant. Do you know, I was going to reply to your post and then decided, like Susie, that you must be talking about some other club. Or be taking the mick. I have to say I thought the girls outside looked underage, chilly and embarrassed rather than sexy young and thin… Oddly enough I was on my way out for a curry (in fact the toddler group AGM, mostly spent discussing the merits of fruit snacks v biscuits <>…) at the Jaflon. I hope that’s where you ended up – much the best!

  31. Jess we are ships that pass in the night! Yes it was the Jaflon and very nice curry too. They did look a bit cold, and they were asking if they could come in yet when we went past, so it was obviously set up. Hum, I may have been saying thin and sexy in a sarcastic manner as the two don’t usually go together in my head. I’m telling Alys now what you all said about that club and we’re snorting. In my defence it was a free champagne reception, and I had been promised celebrities. Obvs the organiser’s idea of celebs is different to mine because I saw a few Assembly Members and some very bad dancers.

  32. Um Susie, you know how you’re only blogging once a week. Well it’s been like SIXTEEN DAYS and we’re still adding comments to the same blog post so that we’re going to have a string of comments that will eventually fall off the end of the internet. The thread has now gone round in circles and is back to peril again maybe with your sister falling over laffing and not being able to get back up again.

    I can only conclude that you are a) working very, very hard, b) putting your fingers in your ears and going lalalala to the world in general or c) off in another time and space dimension with the Doctor and have forgotten that time is passing for us mere mortals.

    I hope it’s a) and therefore you are forgiven. But if it’s any of the others or if it involves biscuits then have a virtual kick up the b from me. Your good friend. x

  33. You know, Josie, I was just feeling quite guilty that we had hijacked Susie’s thoughtful comment piece about children’s literature into a strange discussion of our almost having the same night out in Penarth (and yet, so not… I still can’t quite believe I live a life where a discussion of toddler snack policy constitutes a night out, but there you go.). But now I have realised that YES. IT IS SUSIE’S FAULT!!!! Give us something better to talk about, Suse! Where are you?

  34. I’m totally going to have to buy a pink copy when I’m in the States in October. Pink for the WIN!

  35. Jess, Josie, I humbly apologise. Although I was quite enjoying this tour through the many and varied night-time activities that Penarth has to offer. (Is the Jaflon the one that used to be the Post Office? Must go next time I’m down.) If you wish to continue discussing toddler snack policy and the celebrity status of Assembly Members, do feel free: the internet makes everything 40% more interesting, you know.

    Elanor: think you can get it off UK amazon, actually. But I wouldn’t dream of dissuading you from leaping around a bookshop over there, loudly declaring your fondness for the colour pink and all that lies within. Should you be thinking of doing anything like that. 🙂

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