When my parents came over from the UK, they brought with them several of the childrens books I enjoyed when I was Gavin's age, and last night I decided to read him a bedtime story from one of them. The book in question is a collection of tales called "Stories for Seven Year Olds", and the first one I read was Hans Christian Anderson's " The Tinder Box ".
In the space of 8 or 9 pages it included witches, decapitations, nocturnal kidnappings, attempted hangings and dismemberment by dogs.
The other stories appear to be more of the same - I guess this is how 7 year old boys were cultivated in 1970s Britain. It's no wonder I turned out the way I did.
Of course, Gavin lapped it up. And I must admit, it was curiously liberating in this age of extreme political correctness.
My favorite story from that book was " East of the Sun and West of the Moon ". I hadn't read it since I was 6, so I had a quick leaf through after Gavin had gone down for the night. Well slap me silly with a wet banana - it obviously went right over my 6 year old head. Turns out it's full of rampant sexuality.
And dirty great big bears.
But hold on a minute!!! I remember them reading us that story in first grade.
Then again, back in those days it was also considered a "perk of the job" for teachers to give the little b***ards a "damn good thrashing".
I swear there were some who lived for the sound of a good meaty thwack.
I think they abolished corporal punishment in schools sometime in the mid-80s. Many of the "old guard" retired brokenhearted.
Gavin doesn't know how lucky he is - kindergarten teachers are much nicer these days. 30 years ago I'm sure he would have set school records :-)
But back to my old books. I was particularly delighted to see my parents also brought over another one I had been hoping they would find (because it's been out of print for years).