Like most people my age I have played many roles in my life. When I was 60 I got to play one of my favourite roles ever. I became a grandfather with the advent of my first grandson James; followed shortly afterwards by Ben, Matthew and Noah.
When James was born I was consulted about what I would like to be called. Grandfather was a non-starter for me - far too grand. I didn't fancy grandad or grandpa either but I did remember that my great grandfather was called Pop and that I felt was more 'me'.
A couple of years earlier I had started to present a music show on Redshift Radio and my son-in-law started to refer to me as "DJ Pops." Somehow that stuck and later the name was shorten to Pops.
I am fortunate that my daughter and family live quite close and like all grandparents I love playing with the kids and that includes reading them stories. When the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown happened in early 2020 it meant that we could not meet face to face. Of course we had WhatsApp etc but that didn't totally fill the void and so I hit upon the idea of recording bedtime stories for the children, releasing a new chapter every few days.
The question now was 'what to read?'. All the children's books were at their house. However I did have one book saved like a precious jewel through all the moves and trips to charity shops. It was given to me as a prize in year one at primary school. The book was from a series called Animal Shelf written by Ivy Wallace and published by Collins in 1950.
During periods of crisis like Covid19 it is natural that one of our first emotions is a need for security. Real physical security like having enough food (or toilet rolls) and emotional security to help cope with the worry. I felt that the era of the 1950s was for many older folk like me a safe and secure place to look back to. I hoped that reading a book from that time would also give a secure and warm feeling to any young (or young at heart) people listening to it. And so I started to record Getup Crusoe a heart warming tale of a toy giraffe who lost his spots. No spoilers here - you'll have to listen to the story if you want to know what happened.
The podcasts are a collection of stories mostly from the Animal Shelf collection. They are original first-take recordings on my phone and so may have the odd hiccup in them (at a later date I may pre-record them, but for now please accept my apologies for any errors of diction or extraneous sounds).
Many thanks to RedShift's production team for turning the recordings into podcasts.
I hope you and any little ones you know enjoy the stories. Please feel free to leave any feedback on or ideas of books you would like to hear.
Keep listening and for now it's goodbye from Pops.
Word by Paul Boniface, presenter of 'Listen with Pops'