I like Christmas, I just wish it didn’t start sometime in October. The shops have been full of decorations and Christmas gifts for some while now, but you feel that as December approaches the next wave is beginning to hit – this includes the crazy presents. You know the one’s I mean, the sort that when you see them you think to yourself, whose daft idea was this, who in their right mind thought it might sell and finally who on earth will buy it! Obviously the people behind our big retail stores must know something that I don’t because you can always guarantee that the whackier the present the more likely it is to fly off the shelves.
I was in one of those large retail shops today and I saw, what I thought was the saddest present ever. It is the answer for those extremely busy parents who are trying to do so many different things that they don’t have time to read their children a story at bed time. (As an aside, Carl Honore who has written a great book called ‘Slow’ said that the life changing incident that made him research and write this book and slow down, was when, at an airport rushing to another meeting he came across a set of books entitled, ‘The One Minute Stories – stories to read to your children when you are in a hurry. The fact that he even thought about buying the books brought him up short.) Anyway, back to this gift in shop – it was a book about Santa and a little girl called Holly. At first glance it looked like a standard book. What made me stop and investigate was the advertising slogan above the books which said, “Record each page in your own voice so that you can read to your children even when you are not there,’
Sure enough, on inspection, built into each page of the book was a somewhat clunky looking voice recorder. Once you had read the contents of the page it was captured on the recorder and activated each time the page was opened. Easy, just find a quiet spot at the airport or between meetings, read the book out loud and hey presto, no more worries about not having the time to read a bedtime story to your children.
One or two slight problems did cross my mind. There was only one story and it was about Christmas. What happens when the child gets tired of this story? Have the publishers a series of follow-up books planned. On a more mundane level I had a problem trying to imagine how the bedtime scene might pan out, would it be something like, “It’s bedtime darling and daddy is going to read you your favourite story about Santa, here’s the book. Off you go and sweet dreams.” So the poor child toddles off to bed clutching the book and when he or she (let’s imagine she) has got into bed she has to hold the book herself and turn the pages herself. )At least if she wants to hear ‘that bit again daddy’ she can just turn back the page.) When she’s had enough she will be probably be able to turn to the back page and listen to, “Well that’s enough for tonight darling. You’ve got a busy day tomorrow. Time to go to sleep.” At which point she puts the book down, tucks herself in, kisses herself goodnight and whispers to herself, “Sweet dreams.” Then she quietly gets out of bed and turns her bedroom light off and closes the door.
For those that might buy this book for their child this Christmas, beware. Even the youngest children are much more technologically advanced than we are, don’t be surprised to find the book on your bedside table one night with a recorded message from your child to you!