Good night, sweet repose, lie on your back, and you won’t squash your nose

This simple little ditty was one of many aspects of English culture that my lovely grandmother, from the East End of London, brought with her to Canada, where I grew up. Without fail she would say this to each of her grandchildren, when we were little, whenever we stayed, after a bedtime story.

In fact her advice about lying on your back was crucial in getting the user’s view of the tester of the Queen Anne State Bed, which is why I have invited my grandmother here, at least in spirit.

The Princess, in the classic fairy story “The Princess and the Pea” would have seen something similar. Given the discomfort she felt from the pea, and lack of sleep as a result, she probably got fed up with the view! As part of the Bedtime Stories project and exhibition Temple Newsam’s learning and access officer, Shelley Dring, has been very busy, diligently devising, delivering and commissioning literacy initiatives, such as the one pictured below.
Storyteller and actor, Chris Cade, is reading from “The Princess and the Pea” to a visiting school group, using the Crimson Bedroom, and the restored Queen Anne State Bed, for the backdrop. Chris is, simply, a wonderful storyteller. I listened in for a while, and from the exchanges between Chris and the children, it was clear that everyone was enjoying the experience. I freely admit that not only did I enjoy it too, I was almost on the point of tears of joy, remembering the time when my children were little, and remembering how much I enjoyed reading to and with them. The joy and satisfaction becomes complete when they have managed to turn the key of literacy, and a vast vista of books becomes accessible to them. It gets even better when they in turn become teachers to their siblings.

The Chris Cade literacy workshop, and activities like it, may not be the beating heart or brains of service delivery, but I think it is a glimpse into its soul.

Posted by Ian Fraser

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