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IAIN LAFFERTY: “Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning”

Towards the end of the summer school term, the celebration of Book Week threw our family into a lively debate as to what the children might dress up as. Although we are failed Tiger Parents, we nevertheless sought to manoeuvre the choice away from Marvel comics and My Little Pony and more towards what we regard as “proper” children’s books. Thus our literary pretensions were entirely satisfied when our two kids decided upon the themed choice of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.

With growing excitement costumes were sourced and hems stitched as a great hubbub of haberdashery descended upon the household. Tinker Bell’s costume was a good fit and although purchased from a highly respectable Shanghai Street market stall, did in my view, have the cut of an outfit more befitting a pole dancer than a pixie. Perhaps this was just the critical eye of an overly protective father, however, Peter Pan’s problem was less subjective. “I need a sword daddy.” Actually, according to Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s classic, a dagger.

So one evening using a bendy piece of thin bamboo, a broken rotor blade from a wooden toy helicopter and about a hundred metres of black electrical tape sourced from “Harrods”, I fashioned a blade. Admittedly the tape did lend the weapon a slightly disturbing and dangerous homemade look. The sort of knife you might come across in a prison riot where one lifer stabs another in an argument over an ounce of rolling tobacco. However, it was essentially a short, soft, flexible piece of blunt stick.

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Kids learn fast: Never take a knife to a gunfight

And so it was on the final day of Book Week that Tinker Bell and Peter Pan were ushered onto the school bus in full costume, as we proud parents joined the gridlock of Hiram’s Highway and slowly inched off to work, basking in the afterglow of smug middleclass childrearing. Later that evening around the dinner table the post mortem of the event revealed both good and bad news. The good was that “Tink” managed to do a half-day at Kindergarten without the Sai Kung constabulary arresting her for indecency. Peter Pan on the other hand, contrary to character, was forced to grow up when his Primary School teacher confiscated his dagger, deemed to be a lethal weapon. The injustice was further compounded as Iron Man (and which canon of respected literature do you come from pal?) was allowed to keep his uni-beam projection gun!

Yet a measure of the day’s success was that the kids, without any meddling by their parents, have already decided on what they want to be next year. Ignoring the “book” of Book Week completely, their theme this time seems to be American movies of the 1990’s. Tinker Bell, with a developing passion for suggestive footwear, wants to dress up as the street walking Julia Roberts’ character from “Pretty Woman.” While Peter Pan, having learnt the valuable lesson, to never bring a knife to a gunfight, would like to reinvent himself as Terminator 2. And how do we feel about this? Well I’ve already started to make his pump action shotgun out of toilet rolls.

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