My mum's ring

25th September 1998 at 01:00
Have you noticed that some parents forget the naughty things you do, and others remember everything?

My mum used to forget, but my dad was the one who remembered things. If I did something bad he'd say, "Oh yes, like the time you threw your mother's ring out of the window - it was her grandmother's."

I didn't know anything about this ring. I only knew I threw it out the window because he told me. I was only three when I did it!

So I'd do something wrong. Like sticking the top off the toothpaste in his shaving soap.

I was day-dreaming that the toothpaste was treasure. Buried treasure.. .. and one day pirates would come and find it.... and dig it up....

And so I left the top off the toothpaste buried in my dad's shaving soap.

Next day, mum says, "Anyone seen the top off the toothpaste?" My brother says, "Nope!" "Michael?" "Nope."

My dad says, "Typical! No one knows!" Meanwhile, every day he uses the shaving soap, until one day he suddenly finds, poking out of the soap - the top off the toothpaste.

He walks into the kitchen. He comes over to my brother. "Why is the top off the toothpaste in my shaving soap?" And my brother says, "I don't know."

And he comes over to me, holding out the jar - "Why is the top off the toothpaste in my shaving soap?" And I said, "I don't know."

But when I said it my eyebrows went up in the air.

"The eyebrows. I can see you're lying. What did you think you were doing sticking the top off the toothpaste in my shaving soap?" And I said, "Er - buried treasure. Er - I thought pirates would come and find it."

And he looked at me and said, "Oh yes, like the time you threw your mother's ring out of the window - it was her grandmother's."

My dad remembered everything.

About the Author

Michael Rosen is 52 and is a successful poet, performer, scriptwriter and broadcaster. Both of his parents were teachers and they influenced his love of reading. He has a Master of Arts in Children's Literature from Reading University and a PhD from the University of NorthLondon. He has just selected poems for Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection, with drawings by Paul Howard, which will be published byWalker in October at Pounds 14.99.

After hearing the story read aloud, read it to yourself a few times and discuss it with others.

Discussion points

Sense of immediacy: this story sounds as though the author is speaking to you directly. How does he achieve this?

Tenses: some of this story is written in the past tense and some in the present. What effect does this have on the reader?

Emotion and humour: act out the story in pairs. Try saying the lines of dialogue in an exaggerated way, like people having a family argument. How do we know how the author and his dad feel?

Structure: Notice how the author begins and ends the story and how he sets out the dialogue, with a new line for each new speaker.

Writing suggestions

Michael Rosen's stories and poems usually remind us of our own family anecdotes. Think about similar situations that have happened in your life. Is there something you did once, that you are reminded of every time you do something wrong? Try to recall the exact words said to you.

In pairs, tell each other your stories. You might like to try acting them out.

Think about the opening line of your story. You may want to link it with the ending, as Michael Rosen did. Then draft the dialogue, as though you were telling someone else.

If you need to, refer back to the story to see how to set out the dialogue with new lines and punctuation marks.

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