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The Adventures of Fintan the Happy Squirrel. A Preface.

July 21, 2017


I belatedly became fascinated by those little motivational notes that some parents put in their child’s lunchboxes.  “Mommy loves you!”; “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”; “Be all that you can be!”; “Make good choices!” etc. etc. etc.

Always prone to peer pressure, I thought it was time I joined in with this competitive showcasing of parental concern.  Since, however, I despise motivational posters, and any combination of cats, beaches and sunsets juxtaposed with empowering slogans in italicized fonts makes me want to give up on life, the universe and myself, I thought my maxims should be a bit more practical.

Accordingly, I started to put yellow post-it notes on his sandwich wrappers with sententia inspired by Machiavelli and Rochefoucauld.  The boy would open his lunchbox to receive nuggets of useful advice such as “Let them hate you, so long as they fear you!” and “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”.

Unfortunately, the boy did not take kindly to these notes, finding them (if you can believe it) weird and disturbingly.

Accordingly, the routine of Machiavellian motivational lunchbox post it notes was suspended.   (I also tried putting esoteric Shakespearean insults  in the box to stimulate rhetorical versatility as well but this too proved unpopular.)

Finally, I ended up writing my very first children’s story.  Just because it was easier than anything else, and because he found this serialisation unexceptional (the highest praise I was aiming for).

And thus, The Adventures of Fintan the Happy Squirrel were born.  Every day, the boy received a post-it note scrap of narrative that advanced the story ever so slightly.  Some days I found myself capable of thinking several post-it notes ahead.  Most days I couldn’t.

I may try to gather these post-it notes together some day.  I may even try to rearrange them into the correct order.   Having done so, I may even circulate the complete story.  It’s not what you’d call an exciting story, but I’m inclined to think that it is morally upright and unexceptional from any ethical standpoint you care to mention.

I don’t in fact know how many cherished children’s stories began life as lunchbox post-it notes, but in my current state of deluded hubris, I’m inclined to think that it’s a lot more than you’d think.


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