Life lessons of the young
I’LL tell you one thing that has changed over the years, the howlers. You see a lot of them on the internet, snapshots of children’s homework or test answers allegedly posted by teachers or parents when children have answered a question in some uniquely cute, cheeky way at the same time as getting it wrong. For example, the history question, ‘‘What ended in 1896?’’ gets the answer ‘‘1895’’.
When I was young, the exercise book howlers were quite different and were shared as evidence of children being profoundly dim, not canny and wise. We should treasure television shows like THE SECRET LIFE OF 4 YEAR OLDS (C4) for showing us the undoctored full picture, sometimes cute-ish, sometimes brutish, quick-witted and daft all at the same time and where four year olds are concerned, always at high volume too.
It was all about love at the secret nursery yesterday, or rather it was about war in disguise. Things seemed to be led to a great degree by a wee lad called Harper. There is a Harper in every class, though not necessarily called Harper. Cheeky, forceful, the self-described ‘‘top geezer’’ started calling Ava his ‘‘gel-fwend’’ and soon everyone was on about love and marriage and kissing.
Commentating in the experts’ booth, Dr Elizabeth Kilbey and Professor Paul Howard-Jones said this was human development in action, group changes led by the most forceful personalities.
However as Harper found, the most forceful personalities often discover it all backfires. His best friend Vinny (hands up if you thought people were only called Vinny in Martin Scorsese films) took a girlfriend, rather putting his nose out of joint. Harper said Vinny did not have a girlfriend while Vinny, who must have stayed up late to watch The Apprentice, told Harper, ‘‘You’re fired!’’
It got quite violent after that and the interaction between the boys provided a revealing if depressing contrast to what was going on with Ava and Rory, the shy little lad from the farm. She had spotted him forlornly going round asking, ‘‘Do you want to play firemans?’’ But to no avail and she made it her mission to cheer him up.
Knowing how much Rory liked sheep, he lived next door to his grandad’s farm in Wales, she started playing with the toy sheep and mirroring his accent.
All humanity was there, the drive to connect, the drive to bash each other’s brains out. The Devil has the best tunes – or at least the funniest lines – and when a teacher asked Vinny, ‘‘What could Harper do to make you not angry?’’, his reply was pure gold – ‘‘Die,’’ he said.
Two weeks in and RICK STEIN’S ROAD TO MEXICO (BBC2) still had not actually got as far as Mexico. To be fair, though, California is a big place and there are a lot of nice things to eat in it.
Heading south to Los Angeles and San Diego, Rick met Americans who were passionate about produce without somehow being quite as po-faced as British foodies manage to be.
On Churchill Farm, Jim and Lisa grow pixie tangerines and they picked some for Rick as cold, wet weather blew into the groves from the ocean. ‘‘We wouldn’t normally do a commercial harvest in the rain,’’ said Jim.
Rick wondered why, with all sorts of theories about fruit temperature, sugar content and so on rattling through his brain.
‘‘No,’’ said Jim. ‘‘It’s just miserable and you get soaked.’’