Dragon Posts

March 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

One of the best things about Little Dragons, in fact perhaps the very best thing, is when a very young child who has been coming to Dragons practically since birth, suddenly realises that they know you, they recognise your face – and they give a huge smile when they see you.  There is nothing quite like the beam of recognition that lights up the space between you and gladdens the heart immensely.

In particular, for me, there is the special thread that attaches me to some of these little children.  It is sometimes the case that 20+ years ago, I may have taught their parent, be it mother or father, and it is lovely to see a likeness from the time when the, now, parent was a big part of my life and likewise, I was a big part of his or hers.

You may remember a song from earlier days, ‘When You’re Smiling, the Whole World Smiles with you’– written, apparently in 1928, famously sung by Louis Armstrong:

When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling,
The whole world smiles with you.
Yes when you’re laughing, when you’re laughing,
The sun comes shining through.

But when you’re crying, you bring on the rain.
So stop your sighing, be happy again.
Keep on smiling, keep on smiling, 
And the whole world smiles with you.

There is a huge truth in this song.  I once did an experiment whilst walking up Pride Hill in Shrewsbury and I repeat this experiment practically every Friday morning as I make that journey.  I hold my head up, as opposed to looking at the ground, and I smile.  It is amazing how many people smile back (maybe they are thinking, ‘Who is this crazy woman?’).  One Friday, a lady stopped me and asked, ‘Do I know you?’ ‘No’ I replied.  ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘I thought you must know me because you smile at me every week as we pass each other!’

And it is a fact.  Smiles breed smiles! Truly, the world seems to be a nicer place when faces carry smiling eyes and lips – and it is an excellent way to make new friends.

So, like the little charmers at Little Dragons, who share their smiles so readily, why not try it yourself; definitely making the days seem brighter (and it makes the face look younger!!!!!!!!).

Every good wish, and big smiles from George, Uncle Sam and Idris!

                           Val Butterworth

P.S.        Best wishes, George, Uncle Sam and Idris.

February 2019

  From the Dragons’ Den

Uncle Sam writing:  Hmm, I thought it was time that I tried to get a word in this continuing journal!  When Val isn’t looking, George and Idris have both sneaked in a few thoughts and they think that because I come from another part of the world, I perhaps don’t speak the same language.  In case you aren’t aware, I come from the USA, Georgia to be precise, but I have been a member of Little Dragons for many, many years.  I flew across the ocean in a great big jet (or so it says in our Little Dragon song), but as I was bundled in a suitcase at the time, I cannot be certain of the actual facts of my journey.

I feel very lucky to have made this place my home.  People are so friendly and they usually try to make life good for one another.  At the moment, I hear, everyone is having to work extra hard as they are covering tasks that are new to them following several unexpected changes.

From the dragon cupboard we have noticed that the people who come and go all the time are really being helpful to one another.  They think we can’t see anything from inside the basket which is kept in the cupboard, but we have ways of noticing everything that is going on and we see that people are supporting one another and they are doing jobs that they haven’t done before, trying to make life good for each other and trying to stop each other from feeling sad.

When I was out and about in the church the other day, I happened to overhear Reverend Max talking to all the people.  He was telling them a story that I know, all about a caterpillar that, by some miracle or other, turned into a wonderful, beautiful butterfly. He said that this is like this place, St. George’s, which is going through a time of change and that all those of us who belong here may have to experience some changes as well in order to keep it wonderful and beautiful.  I am not sure what he meant, but I think that the big people who come here will.

George, Idris and I don’t like changes, but sometimes we know that Val will change things and we know that it is to help to keep all the Little Dragons safe and to allow we three to do our best for them and for each other.  So, we are thinking that if Reverend Max or someone like him thinks they may have to make some changes, then it will be for the good of everyone here. 

                                                          Yours in secret, Uncle Sam

P.S.        Best wishes, George,      and Idris.

                                                  

P

January 2019

From the Dragons’ Den

A New Year! New thoughts, new hopes, new dreams for many of us.  For others, though, it is possibly the same old same; no change, one dull day following another!

However: – a time for new ideas, new resolutions, new promises both to oneself and to others.

How does the song go?    ‘It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good!’

New term for Little Dragons.  New babies! One or two new toys! Best of all, new play dough – a better colour this term following the disgusting pink that appeared when I made last term’s play dough. Honestly, I put lots of crimson colouring in the mix of flour, oil and cream of tartar.  I certainly did not expect the ghastly pink hue that was taken on by the dough.  Mind you, the little people didn’t seem to mind about the shade and, for one Little Dragon, who obviously loves the taste, it seemed to be an excellent accident of blending.

When one considers the mix of life’s hues in people you meet, there are many shades of, happiness, sorrow, uncertainty, ebullience, joy, misery; a huge mix of very different people, with different temperaments which all mix together and combine into the human condition.  At Little Dragons we see the whole range and sometimes wonder what will be the adult outcome in these little personalities that we see before us – learning to play together, learning (one hopes) to share, learning to sit quietly (sometimes) during the story, and so it goes on.

If we were able to really see back into our past selves, would we recognise the people we have become.  Did we manage to fulfil our dreams; did we achieve all that we wished? Or, are we happy simply to be the people we have become, to be thankful for the many good things in our lives and for the people who share our lives with us?

A New year thought!  How good to resolve simply to look for the best in those who we meet. Not always easy as we are sometimes quick to judge. However, looking for the best, and finding it, could put smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts.  Not a bad idea!!!

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

P.S.        Best wishes, George,  Uncle Sam  and Idris.

December 2018

From the Dragons’ Den     

On a recent trip to Italy, visiting several places including Florence, Pisa and Sienna, we viewed some beautiful sights and wondered, as often before, on the talent of those who imagined, envisaged and were responsible for the creation of such beauty.

Visiting Florence, we were able to enjoy and wonder as we soaked up the impact of the Baptistry with its golden doors, the Uffizi Museum with its hundreds of paintings and sculptures and the Duomo with its spectacular walls of marble.  We learned a little about the significance of the colours of marble used in the domed Cathedral – white, green and pink; white to signify Faith, green to signify Hope, pink to signify Love or Charity – ‘Faith, Hope and Love!’

(I can now understand why my favourite colour is green – as I am usually optimistic and always full of hope for the future whatever may be happening all around.)

Approaching Pisa, we were informed that the area is known as The Square of Miracles and as we entered through an archway we could see the reason for this.  We had always imagined that the Leaning Tower of Pisa stood alone and were bowled over as we walked through the said arch where, laid before us, were the Baptistry, the Cathedral, the Cemetery and the Leaning Tower. Breath-taking!

                 

We spent a long time in the Baptistry and, after climbing (crawling) up the 69 steps to the balcony, we assimilated and appreciated the beauty and the magnificence of this place.  As we stood and marvelled from above, the woman who had taken our tickets at the door, walked to the centre and, standing by the font, she uttered sounds/notes, without words, which soared up heavenwards due to the wonderful acoustics of this place; giving praise!

Such experiences, if we are open to them, can change our life and our feelings about what we see. Even here, in our small corner, there is always hope and there is always beauty, although sometimes these may become clouded by what is happening around us.

A good lesson to learn from observing Little Dragons is that, whatever is happening, there is always tomorrow, a new experience, new joys – and maybe sorrows. Oh, that we were able to keep the innocence and innocent beliefs of these little people! For them St. George’s Church centre aisle and West End Room become their Square of Miracles for a short time each week.  Hopefully, the wonder they experience in their lives in these early years will remain with them throughout their lives.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

November 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

November already!  For me, a good time of year – or, a not-good time of year.  It’s the birthday month and, although it used to be a really exciting prospect, well, now I am not so sure!

I was looking at photographs of early Little Dragon days recently and remembering those little tots aged 1,2 and 3 now being 13, 14 and 15. Meeting some of them still and seeing how they are developing into responsible nearly-adults, it is good to know that we at Little Dragons have perhaps made a positive input into their characters and values.

Perhaps you, as I do, think back to your own early days.  Some memories go back many, many years – maybe pre-school, early and later school days.

My own earlyish memories involve air-raid shelters, gas masks, sweet coupons and the appearance of whale meat on one horrendous occasion.  No one else in the family would touch it but I – possibly being rather hungry, downed the lot – not a good memory.

So many memories over so many years.  Some memories are crystal clear, others are less clear and may be coloured by bigger events going on around one at the time.

When reading newspapers or viewing news programmes on TV it would be easy to get quite depressed about how the world will develop and affect the lives of today’s youngsters – the current crop of Little Dragons who play and learn, apparently without any cares other than whether the red car or big bike are free to use.

We can continue to do our utmost to make these little lives the very best, along with our prayers for a wonderful future.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

P.S.        Best wishes, George,  Uncle Sam  and Idris.

October 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

George writing, assisted by Uncle Sam and Idris:

So, what’s all this thing, ‘Fruitfulness’ about?  We remember a few months ago some of our Senior Dragons taking about it and now they are at it again.  It must be enjoyable or, at the very least, fruitful, as they seem to be getting a lot out of it.

Idris, who knows about these things (or pretends he does) says that it means how useful something is.  So, we are thinking that this ‘fruitfulness’ journey means that our Senior Dragons and their friends are thinking about how useful they are, or might be, and how they can be even more useful than they have been in the past.  It all sounds very complicated but we are sure that it must be worthwhile or they wouldn’t be doing it.

Our Senior Dragons and all their friends at the church – people called Church Wardens, PCC, Music-makers, Singers, Readers, Intercessors, Sidesmen, Coffee Makers, Washer-uppers, Communicators, Fundraisers, Congregation and someone called Uncle Tom Cobbley, all work really hard to make this place special and we notice how they all try all of the time to make this a good place to be.  They like to help those people called Clergy who tell stories and say prayers and spend all their time helping others.  We think it is really good to look out from our cupboard and to see these people trying their hardest to look after each other and to be ‘fruitful’.

We think that they are also trying to see how they can make their helpfulness, their fruitfulness, reach out further than this place, out into something called The Village and The World Beyond.

It sounds good to us and we hope that we three Little Dragons can help in our small way.

Best wishes, George,  Uncle Sam  and Idris.

September 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

September already.  When did time start to go so fast?  Long gone are the days for some of us when we could dream, dream again and again, before making absolute plans; there was always time to reconsider, rethink, abandon the immediate and dream yet again.

Who can remember and relive in the mind the long days of summer – when the sun always shone, when it never rained; when the beach at Blackpool or Barmouth or Bridlington or Bournemouth was crowded with fantastically constructed sandcastles and the waves were always just the correct depth/height/strength for paddling? Those were the days indeed.

So, how will our Little Dragons remember the hazy days of summer?  Will their memories in the distant future recall sitting in the back of a hot car (Are we there yet?), queuing in a hot airport (Can I sit by the window?), or simply playing games on the tablet?  Or will they also remember with joy, the beaches, as above, time spent with people who loved them who they loved in return, on days that lasted forever.

Sometimes, as the speed of each day, week, month, year gallops faster and faster, it is hard to recall the distant days when the most difficult thing in life may have appeared to be, “What are we having for tea?” or “How shall I spend my sweet coupons?” (Now that is really a long time ago yet real enough for some of us.)

The recollections of our Little Dragons will be very, very different from ours and will, no doubt, be beyond our wildest imaginings.  Let us hope that their lives will provide them with golden memories of happy times.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

August 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

Holidays are upon us! Time to rest – did I say rest? Time to think – when exactly? Time to enjoy the extra hours in each day when there are no commitments – Hmm – something wrong somewhere – where did those extra hours go?

When I was working as a teacher, the first two weeks of my summer break were always spent in preparing work for the following academic year. Some preferred to leave this preparation until nearer to the new term, but in my case, I preferred to ‘get it over and done with’ so I could then relax for the rest of the holiday, enjoy time spent with family and/or travel to other pastures in order to rejuvenate and refresh.

The end of my last term as a teacher and as a headteacher brought a new perspective to life.  My husband, knowing that I would find the beginning of the next term slightly odd, and perhaps difficult, suggested that we go away – and we did. On the day that school returnees packed their schoolbags, we boarded a flight to Maldives, to be shortly followed by a flight to Trivandrum in India,  where we spent time back-packing and thoroughly enjoying new scenes, new ways of living and, quite surprisingly, finding a school with the same name as the one I had retired from – a little school in Kerala, where the children giggled with delight as they sang for us.

Follow that, one might think!  We did, by, along with others, setting up St. George’s Little Dragons, Under Fives Group.  We never expected to continue for so many years – now ready to commence our 13th year!  This venture has brought unexpected bonuses in the provision of delightful Under Fives plus Carers who we have been lucky enough to supervise and entertain during those years.  So lucky also in the Senior Dragons who have assisted (initially known as Big Dragons but it was decided that this gave perhaps an unwanted, slightly tricky image.)  Three of the original Seniors are still in post and an original Grandad/Carer and Granny/Carer have been in post since their LDs started at Big School!

Life is full of precious moments and Little Dragon memories fill the heart with gladness. Many thanks to all those who have, and continue, to support us through the years.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

Visitors are always welcome to share a few moments with us – Tuesdays – 10:00am to 11:30 am during term time!   

July 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

One of our Little Dragons is really keen to demonstrate her prowess at performing a cartwheel and I have promised that at the first opportunity, when the grass in the churchyard is absolutely dry, we will let her show her skill.  ‘Can you do a cartwheel?’ she asked. Oh, to go back thirty years or so, the answer would have been, ‘Yes!’  Best to give no answer at all at present, just give an enigmatic smile (perhaps being mistaken for the Mona Lisa in human form!).

I wonder how many of you can remember managing your first cartwheel, handstand or, excitingly, your first dive-forward roll!  My Dad, who was a teacher, used to run an after-school vaulting club and I, at the age of about eight, used to go along weekly and enjoy several flights through the air as I hurled myself onto the springboard, up into the air in my interpretation of ‘The Flying Angel’, supported by the dependable and strong arms of my Dad.  Wonderful and never to be forgotten.

In the mind I can still feel the joy of running, leaping, hurdling, diving, swimming, trampolining and indulging in many sporting activities. Unfortunately, in the mind is where they will have to remain.  Suffice to say that there is much pleasure to be had in simply walking from here to there, viewing the wonderful world around and sharing the joy of our Little Dragon when she performs her gymnastic feat.

Best wishes, Val Butterworth

P.S.  She did it – rather more of a roll than a wheel, but she did it!     

 

 

 

 

June 2018

From the Dragons’ Den

You may have seen, or heard of, the Dragon basket. This is where George, Uncle Sam and Idris live. It is their home, and thus, their private place.  Whoever is leading Little Dragons on a particular week is allowed to use the basket, is able to invite our three stalwarts to emerge and allowed to store articles appertaining to the week’s story, rhymes or songs.

Otherwise the basket remains private and Members of Little Dragons respect this.  Well, at least, older members respect this but there are occasions when a little person, who hasn’t learned the rules yet, fancies his, or her, chances of investigating the apparently exciting interior.

It is entirely possible, to tell a story, demonstrate a point, conduct singing or verse speaking, whilst holding the basket lid shut with one’s knees.  This is an art form which has to be gradually developed over time and is known to strengthen the muscles, ligaments and the sense of purpose as one takes on all-comers at any one time.

Gradually, those who would infiltrate the basket, absorb the fact that whatever they do and however hard they try, they are not going to gain access to this special place.  They eventually learn to respect that fact (well if not, hard luck!)

As with all aspects of life there are times and occasions when we also have to demonstrate respect for the privacy and the needs of others.  It isn’t always what we wish to do – there are times when we feel that we may like to know everything and have access to all areas.  However, this is not so and we need always to respect the right of others to have their private places, times and areas of life that they may not wish to share with us.  It’s hard I know as, often, we are trying to be helpful and may easily feel rejected when we feel excluded from a part of someone else’s life or unable to access facilities that are not within our remit.

As with the foraging Little Dragon – H L!                  Best wishes, Val Butterworth