November 30, 2016

The Gossip Behind This & That

Illustrated by Judy Horacek

The story behind the story of This & That

When my grandson was two and a half we foolishly went to France, as a family. It’s a long, long way from Adelaide so of course he was jet-lagged out of his mind. We all were. He couldn’t work out why he had to go to bed when he felt wide awake. He was lively and happy and determined not to succumb to sleep. The rest of us were beyond tired. In desperation I said: ‘If you get into bed I’ll tell you a story of this, and I’ll tell you a story of that…’ I paused. He waited.

So I said, in desperation, ‘I tell you a story of THIS, and I’ll tell you a story of THAT. I’ll tell you a story of two little boys who ran down the road with a rat.’ He thought there was more. There wasn’t! So I had to say again: ‘And THEN… I’ll tell you a story of THIS, and I’ll tell you a story of THAT. I tell you a story of two speckled hens who were terribly, terribly fat.’

Which is how it all began. I finished it in Charles de Gaulle airport, on my way home, in a tiny notebook that I normally use for shopping lists. Judy Horacek, the illustrator, made some changes to the order of the verses, but mostly it’s the words that I said to my grandson on that very first night in Paris.