Civilised conversation

Civilised conversation

A fine selection of subjects to talk about with a new acquaintance. This is the boy’s first (and last) encounter with a new girl in the neighbourhood, before she shuns him in favour of another boy. These stories, drawing on the author’s own childhood, see the...
On clothes and calls

On clothes and calls

In Grahame’s account of a Victorian childhood, the boys are baffled by the adult penchant for putting on formal clothes and then going to call on people, when they could just as well mess about at home in their old clothes. Clothes as a topic of conversation are also...
Running away to sea

Running away to sea

At least in his imagination, this boy runs away to sea after being banished to the nursery or lifted by the scruff of the neck or otherwise humiliated by the omnipotent and unreasonable Olympians, whom we call adults. In many cases, the inevitable triumphs of...
Anodyne angels

Anodyne angels

These Victorian children, based on real life characters (Kenneth Grahame’s siblings) are spirited and independent minded. And utterly unimpressed with the pious presentation of angels in their carefully vetted religious reading. In one painting they do find some that...
The best room in the palace

The best room in the palace

How do you impress a girl on first meeting? By divulging details of the chocolate room in your dream palace, of course. There is a lovely illustration of this irresistible place by Mayfield Parrish, surely the finest room of all. For what palace could be complete...
The beauty of banquets

The beauty of banquets

This banquet happens after the staged fight between St George and the reluctant dragon, engineered to keep the punters happy.  After it’s over, they all go and feast together and everyone lives happily ever after. Which is as it should be. ‘Banquets are always...
Grateful gods

Grateful gods

Adults, as you know, are remote, powerful and unpredictable, giving them a striking resemblance to the Greek gods on Olympia. When they make promises to take you to the circus which they then casually renege on because they prefer to go to a garden party in a mauve...
On writing letters

On writing letters

The wryness of Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days is captured here in describing the cultural activity of choice for his younger brother. Harold wraps his arm around his paper to protect it from the prying eyes of his older sister. When she tries to wrestle it from him, the...
The poetic dragon

The poetic dragon

One of the most imaginative tales in Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days concerns a reluctant dragon. He has no interest in dragonly archetypes: forget fighting and hoarding treasure and burning things up with the breath of death. This dragon prefers to hang out on a...

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