On a wet weekend my son often asks “Dad, can we do ‘making’?”. He doesn’t ask me. He knows, from previous disappointing experience, that my efforts don’t transcend their raw materials. They look like nothing more than two cereal boxes precariously bonded with masking tape and daubed with poster paint.
But when he does ‘making’ with his Dad, the most remarkable transmogrification occurs. No longer does he have a pile of packing paper, egg boxes, and other bits and bobs from the recycling bin. He has the Dawn Treader sailing out of Narnia. Hans Solo is Edmund, and his Drago Bakugan is Eustace the dragon; a new toy with endless play scenarios awaits.
They have made some memorable boats over the past few years. Unfortunately we didn’t photograph our favourite. It was a pirate ship. The base was made with old plastic bottles, so that it actually floated. It had a hand-painted jolly roger, a red fabric sail, and best of all, a long piece of string secured to the prow which meant that it could be towed along in the water. They made it one rainy Saturday.
On Sunday the clouds cleared. Hand in hand they walked to the bus. They carried their boat all the way down to Little Venice and walked along the tow path, pulling their own pirate ship along the canal. Our son was just three years old, but he still remembers that boat, and that day. Apparently a few people stopped and took photographs of them – if you saw them, then I just hope you were having as much fun as they were.
A friend of ours builds boats – real ones from timber by hand. He teaches the skill to kids. I hadn’t really thought about the organic beauty in a curve of wood until I saw some photographs of his work. But then a hand-built boat is romantic whatever it’s made from.