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Being Granddad

by andinadia 

Posted: 12 January 2015
Word Count: 1309
Summary: Here it is, the first complete draft. It lost a bit of the original surrealism and turned into a more transparent (but not completely) social commentary on ageing and generations. It's a picture book for slightly older children, maybe like some of Anthony Browne's socially geared books although the artwork would probably need to be more naturalistic.

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BEING granddad
Spread 1
When Lizzie woke up she still felt tired. She also wanted some hot milky coffee. That was strange. She did not like coffee. Or hot milk.
(a/w: Lizzie sitting up in bed. Very typical 5-6 year old’s bedroom, which should include a framed photo of her Granddad and some football fan things including a black and white 1950s team photo.)
Spread 2
Lizzie went into the kitchen. Mum was getting breakfast ready.
‘Linda,’ said Lizzie, ‘Can I have some coffee, with hot milk?’
Mum turned around with a look of surprise. Lizzie had never called her ‘Linda’.
‘Coffee, at your age?’ said Mum.
‘I can have coffee,’ said Joe. ‘I’m old enough.’
‘I’m even older,’ said Josh.
‘Only by a few minutes,’ said Joe.
(a/w: The kitchen of a fairly modern apartment, not too spacious. Mum has her back to us, pouring tea into a pot, but is turning around. The breakfast table contains usual breakfast things. Lizzie is still wearing her pyjamas. Her twin brothers are aged 10. One is at the table already, the other hanging around, both in sleeping clothes –track suit trousers and T-shirts with pictures of some kind of hi-tech toy or celebrities on.
Spread 3
The house phone rang. ‘Can someone answer that?’ said Mum.
Lizzie went to the living room and answered the phone. She called out, ‘Granddad says, are we coming over today?’
‘He forgets everything. He won’t even remember who we are,’ said Josh.
‘So we can stay here, Mum,’ said Joe. ‘We don’t need to come.’
Mum stared hard at Josh and Joe. ‘Eat your breakfast, you two. We’re leaving in ten minutes,’ she said.
Lizzie spoke to Granddad on the phone: ‘We’ll be there soon, Granddad.’
(a/w: Lizzie answers house phone in the living room. We can see back into the kitchen. Mum is now putting toast on table and giving big stare at twins.)
Spread 4
‘Linda, … I mean, Mum,’ said Lizzie, ‘Why can’t Granddad live with us? We could look after him.’
He can have Lizzie’s room,’ said Josh.
‘Lizzie can sleep in the cupboard!’ said Joe.
‘Like a sloth!’ said Josh.
‘We don’t have the space,’ Mum replied. ‘Anyway, the home is not far from where we live.’
‘Stop!’ shouted Lizzie. ‘We need to buy some Chocolate Fingers for Granddad. He loves Chocolate Fingers!’
‘Does he?’ said Mum. ‘Anyway, there’s no time now.’
(aw: They are in the car, passing a supermarket. Lizzie is in the passenger seat. The twins are in the back.)
Spread 5
When they arrived at Granddad’s house they rang the bell. Granddad did not come to the door.
‘His TV’s on very loud,’ said Mum.
‘He could get headphones instead,’ said Josh. ‘I know some great ones.’
The twins went to the window and shouted. ‘Granddad! Granddad!’
‘He’s watching Spongebob,’ said Josh.
Lizzie remembered that she used to like Spongebob.
(a/w: Mum, twins and Lizzie outside Granddad’s house. Through the window we can see Granddad watching children’s cartoons on TV. He’s sitting in an armchair and we can just see the head and ears of a toy rabbit protruding from his folded arms. The twins are bellowing through the window and knocking on the glass.)
Spread 6
Granddad came to the door. ‘Hello, Linda. Hello, Lizzie. Hello Josh and Joe,’ he said. ‘It’s very nice to see you all. Is it a special occasion?’
‘He’s forgotten,’ said Josh.
‘That’s why he needs us,’ said Lizzie, quietly.
‘That’s why he needs to go to the home,’ said Mum, in a whisper.
‘I’m not deaf, you know,’ said Granddad.
(a/w: Granddad at the door. He’s holding a cuddly toy rabbit. Mum is leading Lizzie and the twins through the open door.)
Spread 7
They sat down. ‘We can’t stay long, Dad,’ said Mum. ‘We have to be at the home soon.’
‘This is my home, Linda,’ said Granddad. ‘It always was.’
‘We’re just going to have a look. To see if you like it,’ said Mum.
Granddad stood up. ‘Lizzie, come over here,’ he said.
(a/w: Granddad is standing by a table, with an old biscuit tin type box in the middle of it. The twins have settled down in front of the TV.)
Spread 8
‘I found this box,’ said Granddad. ‘I put your name on it, Lizzie. Have a look.’
Lizzie opened the metal box. It smelled old. She saw two medals on ribbons. She saw some pages of old newspapers, all folded and dry. She saw something made of blue cloth, with white edges. She opened it out. It was an old cap, with a tassel.
‘Look! It’s your cap, Granddad,’ said Lizzie.
(a/w: Close up of Lizzie picking up the things in the tin box. She is holding the England international football cap, with its tassel. It’s from a game against Scotland.)
Spreads 9
Granddad held the cap up and read the word SCOTLAND.
‘Never been to Scotland,’ he said, with a smile. ‘I know I’ve never been to Scotland.’
‘Dad, it’s from when you played against Scotland,’ said Mum.
‘When you scored your hat-trick,’ said Lizzie. ‘Three goals direct from corners!’
‘Did I?’ said Granddad.
(a/w: The twins have come to look.)
Spread 10
Lizzie picked up one of the pieces of newspaper. She read the headline:
‘Harding the hat trick hero.’
Lizzie held the piece of paper to her nose and breathed in the smell.
Granddad put his hand in the box. He picked up an old photo and then turned it over. He read what was written on the back. ‘EMMA,’ it said.
Mum looked at the photo of her father and mother on their wedding day.
‘Emma looks just like you, Lizzie,’ said Granddad. ‘When I look at you, I remember her.’
(a/w: Show the newspaper article, with the headline and a grainy photo of a football match.)
Spread 11
‘Come on,’ said Mum. ‘We have to go now.’
They all got in the car, with Granddad in front. Before they set off, Mum called the home to say they were on their way.
‘Put my phone in my bag will you, Lizzie?’ she said.
They drove through the town, past the football stadium.
‘There’s a football stadium,’ said Granddad.
(a/w: In the car. Granddad is in the passenger seat. Lizzie is in the back with the twins. Mum is passing her mobile back to Lizzie. Mum’s back is on Lizzie’s lap. They are driving past the football stadium, on which we can see the words ‘The Frank Harding Stand.’)
Spread 12
At the home a woman greeted them. They all went to the sitting room and sat down.
‘Mr Harding,’ said the woman. ‘We’ve heard a lot about you. You’re quite a celebrity. I hope you decide to live here with us. Our home is your home.’
A man brought in some drinks. There was a plate of Chocolate Fingers on the tray. Mum looked at Lizzie. Lizzie looked at Granddad. Mum looked at her phone and saw the message that Lizzie had sent.
‘That looks lovely,’ said Granddad. ‘And coffee with hot milk too!’
(a/w: They’re all sitting in the living room of the home. A youngish man with a nice smile has brought in a big tray of coffee and biscuits.)
Spread 13
‘I think I could like it here,’ said Granddad. ‘It’s not far from where you live, is it Lizzie? I can come and visit you. And you can all come and visit me!’
‘I will look after your memories,’ said Lizzie.
‘And you can teach us how to score from corner kicks!’ said Josh.
(a/w: Granddad is drinking his coffee from a cup and saucer. Lizzie is drinking from a cup and saucer too. The box from Granddad is on her lap. The twins have mugs and are also eating the Chocolate Fingers)

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Comments by other Members

a.m.edge at 12:46 on 13 January 2015  Report this post
I really like the pace of this. The story has changed, as you say. Now that it has lost its surrealist edge,  i wonder whether 'Being Granddad' works quite so well. I like the football background, and passing the stand on the way to the home. I wonder whether a more appropriate title could have some football double meaning? I think the text message works well and ties in the opening page with the end of the story. I wonder whether leaving the 'reveal' of the Frank Harding stand until the end (maybe we can actually see it through the window of the old people's home?) would be more effective? It would be more convincing as a persuasion to get Granddad to change his mind (in addtion to the chocolate fingers and coffee, I mean).
Coming along nicely.

Freebird at 14:07 on 13 January 2015  Report this post
Andy, I think this is a great story - thoughtful and poignant, with the comments from the twins adding a bit of balance.
I think it would really suit a slightly older audience than the traditional 3-5 picture book age, but there are highly  illustrated books for 5-7s, aren't there? it would be perfect for that. And they would have more understanding of the issues involved, and of the twins' conversation.

I'm not quite sure now why Lizzie wants the coffee and calls her mum Linda -I thought she was going to become her Grandad - but I think there's a strong image here about the fact that Grandad has turned into a child again, and it just needs some strengthening to bring it out fully.

andinadia at 10:49 on 14 January 2015  Report this post
Thank you, both!

Sarah, yes I can see that it doesn't seem to fit quite as well that Lizzie asks for coffee and calls her mum Linda, now that the role reversal theme has receded. But I still wanted to convey the idea that Lizzie is more attuned to her granddad, which should come across also in the way she knows that he likes Chocolate Fingers whereas noone else had taken this in.

Annie - I was a little worried that there wasn't quite enough impact in the end of the story but I'm not sure I want to move the stadium reveal to the very end. In its current position it gives the reader an insight into how much of an impact the granddad had on the town, and why the woman at the home describes him as a celebrity. And on the other hand, I didn't want his celebrity to be the main point of the story - which is still about how the granddad has regressed in some ways to being a boy, whereas Lizzie is the one showing the maturity and also providing the continuity of memory so that granddad will not only be remembered by having a stand named after him, but more importantly by the little things that his family inherit (the memes!)

TassieDevil at 13:46 on 14 January 2015  Report this post
Hi Andy,

Catching up with some postings for the Children's group at last and yours caught my eye. I've recently written a story with 'grandad' in it and had problems with the spelling. I looked it up and even though 'granddad' seems logical, 'grandad' feels right to me. It was something to do with UK and America from memory but I recall 'grandad' as being the Aussie spelling.

To move on, this is my first reading for this and I found it interesting and engaging although I too was distracted by the coffee/Linda beginning. Possibly toning it down as if Lizzie still feels like coffee because that's granddad's favourite and she'd like to see why he likes it but doubts that she would. Also the Linda name could be seeing it through his eyes,wondering why granddad called her Linda/ possibly asking her Mum the reason. To me calling her Mum Linda was a step too far, a touch disrespectful or cheeky.

The pacing was just right as was the contrast between Lizzie and the twins. A minor suggestion as told to me by the editor of Woman's Weekly fiction at a recent Event - don't have main characters with names beginning with the same letter. It can be confusing. Linda/ Lizzie?

I thought this story would work quite well. There was a lot of plot and characterisation packed into it with a great sense of progression.

Thanks for sharing,


andinadia at 21:51 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
Thanks, Alan, and sorry for not acknowledging earlier. I'm glad you liked it, and your comments are very useful. One of the names will have to change!

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