Fae the Bookworm

faebook4Books are, obviously, important. Very important. They are the staff of life. From the time my auld man taught me to read I’ve been hooked. And as well as finishing at least one or two books every week without fail, I write the things myself now.

Even more important to me, though, than books is my granddaughter. So it was perfectly natural for me to want to share the thing I love most, with the child I love most. I’ve been buying Fae books since she was about three months old. Too young, right? After all, she isn’t going to have a clue what they are or what to do with them. Well, maybe…

My dad always had a thing about not assuming what kids could and couldn’t take in, at any given age. His reasoning was no one could possibly know what a child could or couldn’t understand so best to expose them to as much as possible and see what sticks. That has always seemed like a sensible approach, to me. No baby-talk for the auld man; he spoke to me using exactly the same words he would use with an adult. Consequently, I recall when in primary 5 positively unnerving my teacher when I told her the longest word I knew was antidisestablishmentarianism and that I could spell it accurately, too. The advantages and benefits of literacy and an extensive vocabulary are so many and so apparent as to render entirely redundant the need to argue for them.

Of course, not everyone enjoys reading, words, language, books etc. It’s also very important, I think, not to force your likes and dislikes onto children; to try and turn them into your own mini-me. Fae might well turn out to be one of those people who doesn’t care for books. But I doubt it, on the evidence so far.

From about five months, when she was hurtling around in a walker, she’d point to the top shelf of one of my bookcases where her small collection was stored, indicating that she wanted them. I’d bring them down and she’d perch happily on my lap as I’d read to her. Often, she’d take them from me and just turn them over, turn the pages as best she could and examine them closely, looking at the front and back covers. It seemed that she viewed them as simply different toys. Which was fine by me. If she viewed books as toys, as things to play with, then, I reasoned, she was associating books with fun. With pleasure. As an enjoyable way to spend one’s time. That’s got to be a good thing.

I soon cleared one of my floor-level shelves for her books so she could access them herself, any time she wanted. And now, every time she visits, without fail, she’ll head for her shelf and stagger over to me with one of her books. And then repeat the trip until I have all of them, spread all over my lap and the arms of my chair. At which point she’ll hold her arms out to me, demanding I lift her up into my chair. Whereupon we read and lose ourselves in her books.

Objective peer-reviewed studies have shown her to be the most intelligent child in the entire span of recorded human history and I reckon she’s got the book-bug. And while it’s gratifying to be able to give my granddaughter anything that makes her happy, it’s as nothing to the sheer joy she gives back to me, a thousand-fold, every time she clambers on to my lap with a book.



Happy Birthday, Fae Iris Paterson

faebirthGood morning, gorgeous. You’re now one year old. And what a year it’s been. Easily one of the happiest of my life and, judging from your near-permanent smile, a pretty good one for you too. If this granddad has anything to do with things that situation will be a constant.

I want to share a couple of things with you. A bit of background, if you like. Some context into which you can place yourself, on this, the glorious anniversary of your birth (church bells peeled and trumpets just sounded as I wrote that, by the way).

You’ll hear things about me, as you grow older. You’ll hear about how grumpy, how hard-line and angry your granddad used to be. And while you’ll struggle to reconcile that with the soft-as-grease bag of doting blubbering goo you know, it is true.

You see, being a parent, as distinct from a grandparent, is one of the toughest jobs anyone can ever do. When your auld man was born your G-maw and I didn’t have a pot to piss in nor a window from which to throw it. The first four years of his life unfolded against a backdrop of grinding poverty. While we always shielded him from the material effects of that deprivation – he always had nice clothes, a full belly and a warm bed, not to mention lots of toys and books – we couldn’t do much about the less tangible effects.Faebirth2

We lived on a run-down estate with some great neighbours, many of them also young parents struggling to make ends meet and give their children a good life. Sadly, it was our bad luck to live opposite a drug dealer and the used syringes outside the front door were the least of our worries. There was the constant noise and slamming door as his customers and – we’ll call them – business associates came and went. Your dad was cooped up in the flat until one of us could go outside and watch him like a hawk. No private garden in that residential paradise, you see.

I worked for a local newspaper, at the time, and the pay was barely subsistence-level scratchings. I’d eat once every twenty-four hours so we could save the good food for your dad. I’d get up every morning and load up the deep fat fryer with processed junk from Farm Foods and that’d be it until 6.30am the next day. When I got paid each month G-maw would pay the bills and then we’d scrape by on a tenner a week family allowance until the next pay-day.

Of course things improved, over the years, but often it felt like exchanging one kind of jail for another. When your uncle James was born, for example – by which time Auntie Lorna had also arrived – I was working twelve-hour shifts, six days a week in a textile factory. On the seventh day, I’d do two eight-hour shifts so I could manage the transition from backshift to dayshift.

G-maw brought our three kids up virtually single-handed, as well as squeezing in cleaning and nursing gigs when she could get them. Whenever I was around, your auld man experienced a stressed and angry father; more concerned with discipline and right and wrong than allowing himself to reveal the love he had for his children.

For all that, he and I are great pals and always have been. Despite a laid-back attitude that renders him almost horizontal, on occasions, and a sense of humour and level of maturity more commonly found on an episode of Bo Selecta, he’s a great son and a father who is avoiding the mistakes I made.

Aye, your poor auld dad got the rough end of the stick. Our first child and all the stress, worry and insecurity that inexperienced parents go through, was his lot in life. A long time ago now, of course, and these days we’ve got the extra quid or two, nearly twenty-five years of hard-learned lessons and the relaxed and confident demeanour of Vietnam veterans. North Vietnamese veterans, of course.

Which brings us to you. A year ago today, when your dad handed you to me and I first laid eyes upon you, it felt like a damn had burst. Tears poured from my eyes and I knew, right then and there, that something had changed inside me forever. I could actually feel the anger and frustration of all those hard years washing away.

You’ve changed me for the better, kid, and I love you with all my heart and soul. I don’t have the worry that your mum and dad do. I’ve done my hard-time at the parental coalface and now I can just indulge myself, and you, and enjoy every second we spend together. And, oh boy, I do. 10574286_10152566064602114_7986575462980402822_n (2)

They say one of the best things about being a grandparent is that you can give the kids back to the parents when you’ve had enough. Well, that’s a feeling we’ve yet to experience; we never want to give you back. In fact, I thought we ought to give you your own front door key but G-maw pointed out that you can’t actually reach the lock yet. Maybe next year then.

Have a brilliant birthday, Fae. But more importantly have a brilliant life and never forget; G-maw and I are always in your corner, right or wrong. While ever I have breath in my body I am there for you. No matter where you might find yourself, no matter what troubles you face, you are never alone. Hugs, advice, love, time, grub, a few quid when you need it and dragons slaying. That’s a granddad’s job. And I love my job 😉

Happy birthday, sweetheart xxx


Review: Patersongrad

By Fae Iris Paterson, age eight months.

A most agreeable little hostelry, I arrived early evening to be greeted by the very genial hosts. The décor and facilities were extremely well suited to a person of my size, age and proclivities. The wood floor in the main living area, in particular, was simply magnificent. My baby-walker achieved speeds of hitherto unmatched extremity. Most exhilarating.

Dinner followed and the hosts maintain, it must be said, an excellent kitchen. I had toast to start followed by an inarguably sumptuous cottage pie. Both the texture and consistency were quite to my tastes. As one knows, often a mid-meal pooh is required. The amiable elderly lady who attended on me provided first-class service. Nappy was quickly changed and the cleansing process was unobtrusive and, indeed, actually fairly pleasant (NOTE: inform my staff to procure some of those particular brand of delightful wet wipes).

After dinner entertainment was pleasant and one couldn’t fault the choice on offer. Shape-sorters, contraptions given to intriguing sounds and the sort of cognitive challenges a young lady finds delightful were plentiful.

After dinner bathing was a particular highlight, with the servants at pains to maximise my enjoyment. An unusual sort of cabaret was enacted by the proprietors involving song, some sort of strange dance and what can only be described as gurning. I quickly discovered the occasional smile impelled the duo to still greater efforts.


My boudoir was faultless in all respects but the nocturnal restlessness with which I’m often afflicted sadly made an appearance. No matter; I decided to jump in with mein hosts. Some may consider such actions a tad forward, perhaps a little on the intrusive side, but both parties reacted with the amenable demeanour one often encounters in those of the lower orders.

During the night, I was also, several times, disposed toward conversation and despite there being something of a language barrier the landlady and her good man attended to my wants. Strangely, their custom appeared to be to converse with eyes closed. Odd but this did not impact on my pleasure in any way.

Breakfast was toast, milk and porridge and while the latter was perfectly acceptable I found the absence of salt and whisky in the mix a peculiar thing. Grand Papa tells me that our people favour this recipe but that its consumption is not considered seemly for a young lady of my years.

FaereviewTo sum up, a splendid stay with catering, personal services and entertainment provided around the clock. That my hosts provided all this with just the efforts of themselves proves another of Papas’s contentions; that the lower orders require little or no sleep. Interesting. But of no import. I shall return! I have no hesitation in recommending to my peers such a charming little hostelry for the purposes of a young lady’s pleasure, relaxation and entertainment.