Sunday, 21 December 2014

I don't deserve it


I ran into my lovely young friend (ex bar-girl) in the garden of the pub the other day, and she said she had just got back from the funeral of the poor girl who jumped off Clifton Suspension Bridge with her new-born baby. It turned out they were old friends from schooldays. The outside of the church was packed with journalists taking photographs and notes apparently, and I was not surprised to hear that.

The day before, she - D - had sent me a text saying that she had asked her three year-old son who he would most like to see over Christmas, and he said me. She had to tell me about this.

The little lad has - for some inexplicable reason - really liked me from the first time we met, or at least met when he was old enough to focus his eyes. As soon as he could get a few words together, he would shout out my nick-name when he saw me from some distance in town, and now comes running up for a big hug. I am so flattered - and confused - by this.

He now encourages his mother to take him to the pub so he can see me, and - funnily enough - this is all the excuse she needs to go there for a quick drink with other friends.

The other day, I was in a charity shop when I saw a top-quality pair of compact binoculars for sale for not much money, so I bought them to put on eBay, where they probably would have sold for about £80, being made by Bausch and Lomb.

I was just about to photograph them for listing, when the text came through about little Zak wanting to see me over Christmas, and I suddenly decided to give them to him as a present.

H.I. suggested he was too young for them, but it has always been my theory (and hers, actually) that many children are put off telescopes and binos for life by being given crap ones with unusable optics. They make these cheap, plastic things to give to kids for Christmas as if their eyesight is nowhere near as good as adults, but of course it is usually much better.

If a kid looks through a crappy, plastic-lensed telescope and cannot even see the moon properly, they will put it down and probably never pick it up again.

There was a letter written to an astronomical magazine once, and it was from a man who had lifted his daughter up to the eyepiece of his enormous telescope to look at the deep space above the Arizona desert where they had gone, and she stared at the starry vista quietly for a while before bursting into tears.

He lifted her down and asked what was wrong. She said, "Oh Daddy, it's too beautiful. I don't deserve it."

Who does?

25 comments:

  1. I think my cute little 6 year old neighbour Zara has a similar attachment to me. I give her a chocolate reindeer.

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  2. No wonder this little boy is so enamored - you treat him like a person.

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    1. Well that's what he is - I still refer to children as 'it' sometimes, though.

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  3. Who indeed Tom?
    I hope this small child gets the pleasure from his gift that you intend he should. I do agree with the premise that giving small children 'pretend' gifts of this sort is an insult to their intelligence - but they must then be taught to look after them.

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    1. Yes - I'm not expecting him to polish the lenses without training.

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  4. So sad that your young friend's friend couldn't cope with life any more. But great that your friend D's little boy loves coming to see you. Really hope that you get to see both of them over Christmas - that's what it's all about. I think he'll love his present almost as much as meeting up. Have a great Christmas.

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    1. Everyone thinks that she must have been a bad mother for chucking her baby over too, but she had medication for her psychological problems which she didn't take because she didn't want to harm her baby when breastfeeding. They forgot to tell her that the medication would not harm her baby, but it was too late to save her state of mind.

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    2. "Everyone thinks she must have been a bad mother....". This is simply not true.

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    3. 'Bad', as in the sort of mother that throws her baby over a cliff - you know what I mean.

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  5. A little christmas tale
    I liked it

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  6. Underneath that harsh exterior I think you are a bit of a sweetie on the quiet.

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    1. Thanks for the 'harsh exterior' observation. Happy Christmas to you too.

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    2. Maybe I should have said 'grumpy' or will you take offence at that too.

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    3. I'm sorry, Elaine, I had just come from the kitchen having been trying to defend myself against attacks about how awful I am to live with which have put a serious rift between me and my step-daughter which I have been trying to settle by guessing what has been said about me behind my back so I cannot answer any of the accusations, and this put me into a very depressed state of mind.

      I would take down my comment of last night, but I don't deserve to be let off that lightly.

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  7. How appropriately heart-warming at this time of year; it rises meteorically compared to the awful excuse that Christmas has provided for consumerism.

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    1. I didn't plan it to be seasonally heart-warming, but yes, that's they way it turned out.

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  8. one of my most prized pictures is of a blurry Saturn seen and photographed through a telescope in a desert in Egypt. I remember exactly how I felt at that moment, exactly what it smelt like and the feel of the rocky sand under my feet.

    you are giving the gift of wonder. you cant get better than that.

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    1. I think that most people start off by - for the first time - seeing the rings of Saturn through a reasonably cheap telescope. The best you can hope for in all the other planets is a clear 'disc'.

      It's a shame that the best time to observe the heavens in this country is on a moonless, cold and frosty Winter's night. It interrupts all your plans about huddling round a fire with a drink in your hand.

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  9. I think a pair of real binoculars for the boy is a fantastic gift. I have no children, but I've noticed that kids appreciate being treated like intelligent human beings and not talked down to because of their age.....hey, that's what we all want after all.

    Another great gift for a budding astronomer......a childrens book was just released called Star Stuff.....it's about the childhood of Carl Sagan and his powerful curiosity about the cosmos as a little boy. It's a lovely alternative to all the religious holiday books for kids. :)

    I think you're a dear deep down inside, Tom. Sometimes those people with the crustiest exteriors have the tenderest hearts.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thank you for calling my exterior crusty.

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  10. I am a bit of a closet stargazer and if someone had given me some decent binocs or telescope when i was a kid, I would have been ecstatic. I had to wait until i got my first real job and could buy my own.

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