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One tarantula, my dragon, smelly boots and I

group on rocksFor Easter weekend we headed for Ireland. Big weekend, triple celebration: Easter somewhere in Co Leitrim with family, Easter Rising Centenary in Dublin and my birthday. Much fun was had over a packed long weekend, all these events are now treasured memories. But the Friday afternoon really stood out for me as one of the best.

We were all in the kitchen chatting about nothing. Somehow we started talking about games. It came out of nowhere; our mate Jay suggested we should hold our own story-writing competition. Each of us could volunteer a word and then we could each write a story containing these words. It would be fun to see how different our stories could be, even though our stories would be built around the same words. The story should be no longer than a page, it was quickly agreed. Somehow the idea caught the children’s imagination and we started thinking up rules, laughing at funny words that could be volunteered. Five of us signed up for the challenge. Jay quickly came up with “smelly shoes” (the kids found this hilarious!). I threw in “the bloke that sounds like Mark” (how this came about is an other story, for an other time). Three more words were volunteered: Nina picked “sponge”, Conrad picked “tarantula” and Sonia went for “dragon”. All of a sudden we had five competitors thirsty to start writing their extraordinary stories! We would be writing today and the showdown was going to happen the very next day.  Our extraordinary story-writing journey was born.

The next day, the competition was awaited with great anticipation by all the kids. The big moment came after lunch when everyone’s stories were ready to be read out, in front of the entire family gathering. We picked the reading order, the judges were named, the stage was set by the kitchen table. We proceeded to read our stories one by one. What a feast for our ears! Each story was awesome and each so different! The story tellers excelled themselves, the stories were really funny, well written, with excellent twists and scary moments; we all had a really good time laughing at each others’ stories and wit. I enjoyed so much joining in, really going for it and just letting the story come to me, having fun with it. This little game will be treasured for a long time, it was great fun for young and old alike (not sure who the old one in that gang was, but you know what I mean!). I think we surprised ourselves with the excellent writing, the fun of it and the joy it brought us all.

Maybe one day I’ll share with you all the other stories. But for the fun of it, today I’ll share with you my story: “Good old red boots”. And it goes something like this:

“I once had a pair of red smelly old boots. Or where they smelly shoes??? No, smelly old boots,for sure! They came with me everywhere! I especially loved wearing them every time I went out for a fly on my dragon. They gave strength, stamina and frankly, a bit of “je ne sais quoi” :) My dragon adored them!

One day, when he took me far, far away, all the way over the Arabian Sea, we found this exotic island, with tall green palm trees and date palm trees. My dragon and I were having a whale of a time there sunbathing and swimming with all the colorful fish under the sea. That was until this big, black, furry tarantula turned up on our beach. I was just about to stomp on it with my big, red, old, smelly boots to, SPLAT, flatten the creature, when what do you think happened? She spoke to us!

What it said will remain a mystery for ever, as neither me, nor my dragon, speak her language. But what was really clear was that the creature wanted my smelly old boots (yes, I remember well now, they were definitely old boots, not shoes!). I took those boots off quickly and handed them over. She made a home in them! I even left a sponge with her  so she can clean them now and then; they were awfully smelly!

So here’s the story of how I made a new and unexpected friend,on a fine day, on an exotic island. I am so happy to be here today and tell of my story. I wish I’d brought my tarantula with me so she could meet you all. She would have loved to play with you: with Sonia, with Mat, with Nina and with Conrad. And most of all with the bloke that sounds like Mark.”

So who won, you may ask. Well, in the end, we all did. Once all the stories were read we all felt with certainty that this was a very special afternoon indeed.

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