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The Magic Eft and Other Small Tales

Perhaps I should stop inventing new words, but if 'Efting' doesn't exist already, it really should. I spent much of yesterday efting at the Horniman Museum.

I was on the nature trail beyond the gardens, helping the Entling give a wee nature walk/talk. At first it looked as though no-one had turned up. Then they all arrived, a motley and surprisingly large crew of mums, prams and kids. You could spot the trouble straight away: young Alfie, with his football and exasperated Mum. At one point, Alfie lagged so far behind I asked him if he had been stung. He shook his head.

'Don't worry love,' said his mother, 'He's sulking cos he don't wanna learn. Alfie come over here! Alfie! I'm warning you! Alfie - I tell you I'm sick of this, I've had it all day - Alfie!'
Alfie took off, running in the opposite direction. I asked if he was likely to go far.
'I wish,' said his mother. 'He'll be back, the little -' I had to join the others, and indeed, Alfie and Mum did rejoin us, just as the Entling turned over some logs in the meadow. Centipedes, millipedes, woodlice, worms, spiders...the kids crowded round enchanted at the chance to cover themselves in dirt, apart from two lofty little girls, prettily done up in lace and sequined shoes with friendship bracelets and long smoothed hair.

'Another centipede,' they observed 'Not very exciting.' Their ennui could not hold out against the star turn of the day; pond dipping. Given nets and trays full of water, all were shown how to put their nets in the pond, empty out the contents into the trays, and see what they could find. And everybody found baby newts, efts, because the pond is teeming with them.

'Four! I have four!' Announced one little sparkling-eyed boy, counting them out for me. One tiny girl was very sad. She had caught one eft, and it only had three legs. Then the Entling told her how newts grow their limbs back, that her little eft would be just fine, and this changed everything. Her eft was not broken, it was amazing; newts could do this wonderful thing, and hers would be the one actually doing it. Her face turned somewhat sullen when the Entling asked her if he could put her little newt in a jar with a magnifying lid. She did not want to give it up. This was her special eft, he could get lost and find his own. Eventually she was persuaded, and rewarded by seeing a close up of the dragonish fronds around the little one's head, but it was still hard work getting her to put it back in the pond. Meantime, there was more drama at the other end of the bridge; among the pond-skaters, a water boatman had been discovered, along with phantom midge larvae. The bridge was full of laughter, learning, pointing, staring into trays, asking questions - the kids I liked most were much taller than the others, floppy hatted, waving nets and pulling algae apart, delighted at playing and not having to be grown up, seeing things we never got to see at school.

When the day ended, the sartorially elegant little girls and Mums were the very last to leave the bridge, while the sun shone and a dragonfly buzzed brilliantly across the pond.

'He likes you,' said one of the girls. Certainly he was hovering around me. Maybe he thought I was a huge midge. I think it's safe to say that after a morning of mud and blanket weed, my trainers have an interesting pond pungency to the extent that they may need replacing.

But that was a good day.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
romney
Aug. 29th, 2013 11:35 am (UTC)
A good day, and a fine bit of writing - took me right to the scene.
smokingboot
Aug. 29th, 2013 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you Romney - it felt very nice to write .
nortysarah
Aug. 29th, 2013 02:16 pm (UTC)
It sounds lovely! Ava loves stuff like that
smokingboot
Aug. 29th, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
It was a great day. I thought the kids would be bored, but they loved it!
caffeine_fairy
Aug. 29th, 2013 04:21 pm (UTC)
That sounds brilliant.
smokingboot
Aug. 29th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
It'll be one to remember when I'm old :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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