Layla followed in Jasmine’s footsteps a few years later. Loving staying at Laurel Cottage, just as her sister had done. In such a small cottage they rarely stayed together, but argued as to whose turn it was to stay. Layla thought the same about her granny. Bobby took her on adventures and, of course, read her stories.
Cousins Sonny and Kyla were now on the scene and they stayed now and again. Loving their granny and going on adventures with Bobby. And of course being read stories.
One day, in December 2008, Diddley received a phone call at the office. A great family friend told her that her publishing company was disposing of their stock of children’s books. They were moving to another office and couldn’t take the stock with them. If Di wanted some she was very welcome, but she had better hurry up. She drove straight there and filled the car, an estate car, with dozens of books. And rang Bobby. “You won’t believe it! We have a car full of brand new children’s books. Big ones. Small ones. Sparkly ones. Pop up ones. Every kind conceivable.”
They emptied the car into the dining room.
In some cases, there were lots of the same book. Diddley decided to share her good fortune with all the children she knew. Grandchildren. Friends’ children and neighbours’ children. She made up individual sets of books to put in cardboard boxes to be delivered or collected by their lucky new owners.
And, naturally, she kept a full set for Laurel Cottage. In a big box. It was then that Bobby had a brainwave at IKEA one day – when he saw a very slim bookcase on sale. Slim enough to squeeze into the grandchildren’s bedroom. See title picture. Once installed Layla, who was in the ascendancy at the time, decided it needed looking after. And she became “Librarian”. And it became “Layla’s Library”.
Over the following years many children had the benefit of Layla’s Library. Some of those books must have been read hundreds of times by Bobby. With so many to choose from, it was never just one story. “Just one more” they all pleaded. He loved reading them – as much as they loved listening. It reminded him how, many years before, he had read stories to his son Andrew. How one day he and Andrew’s mum took him to Sutton Library. She asked if he could join.
“How old is he?”
“I’m sorry, children usually join when they are five”
“Well, I want him to join now and learn to love books!”
She was “irresistable” that day and Andrew did become a member of Sutton Library at just three years old. They borrowed children’s books and Bobby read them to him every night for years.
Many years later he, now a dad to Giselle and Daisy-Mae, read them stories every single night. “Don’t ring at seven. I will be reading stories to the girls.”
Reading back through, this makes you feel proud that books have become such an important part of people’s lives. But we did mention “celebration”. Since we lost Diddley and the children grew, Layla’s Library has lain dormant. Until now, when Jasmine told Bobby Little Jay loved books. He told Jasmine that Little Jay would inherit Layla’s Library, with Layla’s blessing. Bookcase and all. And he started packing.
“Little Miss Naughty was not included” after Bobby had edited it into an “adult” book.
If children come to Laurel Cottage, he still has his Thomas the Tank Engine box set. But then he has an ambition. To read stories to his great grandsons at their house. Maybe even Jody’s Beans, which is still in the library. Little Jay and Little Bobby’s Library. Thank you, Layla.
Henry the Green Engine. Bobby’s favourite Thomas the Tank Engine story.
Amy May lives miles away with James,
We do hope soon she will come to stay.
Arno is her little boy.
When he sees Jasmine soon
He can join in the book reading boon.
The library is for all the grandchildren.
And now for Old Bobby, Arno is his third great grandson.
How wonderful is that!
Lighting a Candle for Diddley.
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