I’m taking a coach ride with a group of 7 – 9 year olds. S is working on her Times Tables using a Hundred Square. I ask her a few questions and she struggles a bit but eventually works out the answers. F pipes up that she can do hers without the Hundred Square so I start to quiz her. True to her word, she does and gets every question right with nary a delay.
Two of the boys, G and O, ask me when the television was invented. I don’t know so I tell them exactly that. Then they ask when colour TV was invented. Again, I’m not sure of this and tell them as much. They tell me that the reason they ask is because they want to know when the first Bond movie was made. That I know so I tell them it was the very early 1960s. Knowing this makes me feel positively ancient.
They tell me that they love James Bond, name the movies they’ve watched and why they like each. We talk about some of the scenes in the movies. I have a hard time remembering which scene is in which movie but they have no such problem. We take a break from our conversation as we arrive at our destination.
As the children queue to get back on the coach, O sidles up to me and asks if he can sit next to me again. I am touched. I smile and tell him of course he can. We talk about other movies we like. I tell him I love animation. I discover that we both share a love for Despicable Me. O tells me he also enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph. I tell him that the characters in the movie are all from computer games, some of which I played as a child. M nods excitedly and tells me her mum used to play Pac-Man as a child and has it on her iPad now. O is intrigued. Then he says he’ll download Sugar Rush to his mum’s iPad when he gets home.
Eventually the conversation comes round to books. O tells me he has about 200 books, half of which are fact books and the other, ‘chapter’ books. I ask him to share some interesting facts from some of his books. He cannot remember any. So I prompt him by asking if he knows any fun facts about fish. He immediately perks up and tells me that catfish are poisonous. I gulp. I think about the catfish thawing on my worktop at home right at that moment. The same catfish I intend to marinate in spices, steam and then introduce to a pot of Afang soup. So I tell him I don’t think all catfish are poisonous, that I eat them. His eyes pop out, you eat them? he asks. I nod. He looks like he’s unsure whether to take me seriously or not. Before he can probe further, he gets distracted by the excited chatter of the other kids. We are nearing our final destination.