Extract 1

Billionaire Boy

by David Walliams


Meet Joe Spud, the richest 12 year old in the world. Joe has everything he could ever want: his own Formula One racing car, a thousand pairs of trainers, even an orang-utan for a butler! Yes, Joe has everything he wants, but there's just one thing he really needs: a friend...

The house was so large it was visible from outer space. It took five minutes just to motor up the drive. Hundreds of newly-planted, hopeful little trees lined the mile-long gravel track. The house had seven kitchens, twelve sitting rooms, forty-seven bedrooms and eighty-nine bathrooms.

Even the bathrooms had en-suite bathrooms. And some of those en-suite bathrooms had en-en-suite bathrooms.

Despite living there for a few years, Joe had probably only ever explored around a quarter of the main house. In the endless grounds were tennis courts, a boating lake, a helipad and even a 100m ski-slope complete with mountains of fake snow. All the taps, door handles and even toilet seats were solid gold. The carpets were made of mink fur, he and his dad drunk orange squash from priceless antique medieval goblets, and for a while they had a butler called Otis, who was also an orang-utan. But he had to be given the sack.

"Can I have a proper present as well, Dad?" said Joe, as he put the cheque in his trouser pocket. "I mean I've got loads of money already."

"Tell me what you want son, and I'll get one of my assistants to buy it," said Mr Spud. "Some solid gold sunglasses? I've got a pair. You can't see out of 'em but they are very expensive."

Joe yawned.

"Your own speedboat?" ventured Mr Spud.

Joe rolled his eyes. "I've got two of those. Remember?"

"Sorry, son. How about a quarter of a million pounds worth of W H Smith vouchers?"

"Boring! Boring! Boring!" Joe stamped his feet in frustration. Here was a boy with high-class problems.

Mr Spud looked forlorn. He wasn't sure there was anything left in the world that he could buy his only child. "Then what, son?"

Joe suddenly had a thought. He pictured himself going round the racetrack all on his own, racing against himself. "Well, there is something I really want..." he said, tentatively.

"Name it, son," said Mr Spud.

"A friend."

Extract 2

Who's a Big Bully Then?

By Michael Morpurgo


Sports Day

It was Sports Day. I've never been good at any ball games like football. I just get pushed around all the time. But running, that's something I can do. So I was looking forward to Sports Day.

I do best in the 200 metres. It had been easy for me to get into the final. There were eight of us in the line, just waiting for the starting gun. Beside me, in the next lane, was big Darren Bishop. This was my chance to show him up, and I was going to take it.

My Dad had come to see me run. He doesn't come into school often. He's always too busy on the farm. But he always comes to Sports Day. And I know why. He loves to see me win.

He was a fast runner himself when he was a kid. Or so he tells me. "That's where you get it from," he says to me.

There Dad was, in the crowd. He was very excited. (Mum won't come because he jumps up and down and shouts and she hates that.)

"Go on, son," Dad shouted. "You can do it. Don't look behind you. Get those legs working."

I waved at him, hoping to shut him up. I did want him there. But he shouts so loudly that people stare and grin and I hate that.

Darren Bishop had seen him and was grinning.

"What a nerd your Dad is!" he said loudly so everyone could hear. "Is he drunk or something?"

I was really angry, but I looked the other way and said nothing. But Darren just went on at me.

"What's it like to have a little idiot for a dad?" He went on. "And your mum's a little idiot too, isn't she?"

That was too much. I turned on him like an angry dog. If he wanted a fight, then he could have one, right now. It was only the starting gun that saved me.

Extract 3

What is Remembrance Day?

by CBBC Newsround

Remembrance Day

Armistice Day is on 11 November and is also known as Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, back in 1918.

A two minute silence is held at 11am to remember the people who have died in wars. There is also Remembrance Sunday every year, which falls on the second Sunday in November. There are usually ceremonies at war memorials, cenotaphs and churches throughout the country. The royal family and top politicians gather at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, for a memorial service.

The anniversary is used to remember all the people who have died in wars, not just World War One. This includes World War Two, the Falklands War, the Gulf War, and conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Why do we hold a two minute silence?

The first two minute silence in Britain was held on 11 November 1919, when King George V asked the public to observe a silence at 11am. This was one year after the end of World War I. He made the request so "the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead".

The week before 11 November, you'll see people on the TV and in the streets wearing a poppy. But what are they for? Poppies are red flowers which are worn to show others that you are remembering those who died for their country. The reason poppies are used is because they are the flowers which grew on the battlefields after World War I ended.

Poppies are also used to raise money for servicemen and women who are still alive but whose lives have been changed by war. The charity that runs the Poppy Appeal is called The Royal British Legion. Each year, volunteers will sell these poppies in the streets all over Britain. You can decide how much money you want to give to the poppy sellers.

Extract 4

Scout saves life of stroke victim, 90.

by Daily Mail, Sat Jan 10th 2015


A young scout has been honoured by Bear Grylls for saving his elderly neighbour's life as she lay helpless for ten hours after a stroke. Charlie Hemp, seven, alerted his mother Gaynor, after noticing that 90 year old, Win Swift, had not opened her curtains or collected her milk from the front door, after he came back from school.

Mrs. Kemp found her neighbour lying at the bottom of her stairs after falling. She had suffered a major stroke. Mrs. Swift spent six weeks in hospital but has recovered enough for her to return to her home in Maghull, Merseyside.

"Charlie's my little hero and I'm lucky I have such good neighbours," she said. Mrs. Kemp said her son, who is a Beaver, the section of Scouting for six to eight year olds, probably saved the life of their neighbour. "When I found Win, she was really cold and she says she didn't think she could have lasted much longer," she said. "If it wasn't for Charlie, she probably wouldn't have made it. But he is a little embarrassed by it all. He doesn't realise what a great thing he has done. I'm really proud of him. "

Charlie, who has now won the Chief Scout's Personal Award, said "I was really happy to be able to help Win and I am glad she is still alive." Chief Scout Grylls said in a letter: "I am super proud to recognise Charlie's prompt actions which saved this lady's life. This is a brilliant example of how the power of scouting directly helps other people.”

Extract 5

Queen Elizabeth I

by Ken Nelson

Queen Elizabeth I

  • Occupation: Queen of England
  • Born: September 7, 1533 in Greenwich, England
  • Died: March 24, 1603 in Richmond, England
  • Best known for: Ruling England for 44 years

Growing Up as a Princess

Princess Elizabeth was born on September 7, 1533. Her father Henry the Eighth was the King of England, but King Henry did not want a daughter as an heir to the throne. He wanted a son to take over as king someday. He had a son, Prince Edward.


Growing up

Elizabeth was quite clever and learned to read and write in different languages. She also learned how to sew and play music.


Her Father Dies

When Elizabeth was thirteen years old her father, King Henry, died. Her father left the throne to his son Edward.


Sister to the Queen

Soon, young King Edward became sick and died at thirteen years old. Elizabeth's half-sister Mary became Queen. The people of England didn't like Queen Mary. She had Elizabeth put in prison. Elizabeth actually spent two months in a jail cell at the Tower of London.


From Prisoner to Queen

Elizabeth was in the tower when Mary died. In just a few moments, she went from prisoner to Queen of England. She was crowned Queen of England on January 15, 1559 at the age of twenty-five.


Being Queen

Elizabeth worked hard at being a good queen; the English people liked her. She visited different cities in England and avoided fighting wars. She did not want to conquer other countries, yet during her reign, many people explored the world. She only wanted England to be safe and become richer. During her long forty-four year reign, people tried to kill her so she set up a spy network.


Interesting Facts about Queen Elizabeth I

  • In 1562 she became sick with a disease called smallpox, but managed to survive.
  • Elizabeth liked to have pictures painted of her.
  • Elizabeth enjoyed dressing in fancy gowns with wide sleeves.
  • By the end of her reign, there were around 200,000 people living in the city of London.
  • She was a huge fan of William Shakespeare's plays.
  • One of her nicknames was Good Queen Bess.

Extract 6

Mo Farah, an amazing athlete.

by gogivers.org


Mo Farah knew that he had to work very hard to win running races. He became double Olympic champion at the Olympic Games in London in 2012. He won the 5000m and 10,000metre races. He was also the first British athlete to win two gold medals at the same world athletics championships.

His training regime:

  • Ran 120 miles a week, at a speed of a mile in 5.4 minutes.
  • Sometimes he ran on an underwater treadmill which provided less risk of injury than track running.
  • After training, he went into a chamber which was cooled to -140C to aid muscle recovery.
  • He worked with his conditioning coach four times a week.
  • He regularly had his technique analysed by a sports biomechanist.
  • He ate lots of pasta after running.

Twins Hassan and Mo Farah were born in Somalia, Africa and were very close as children. They slept in the same bed and shared food from the same plate. They were inseparable, and so similar that teachers and friends couldn’t tell them apart.

The brothers said goodbye to each other at the age of eight when their parents made the agonising decision to send three of their six children, including Mo, to Britain for a chance of a better life. It was 12 years until the twins saw each other again.

Nowadays they speak to each other on the phone every day, and Mo has built two houses for his family.

Hassan, who works as a farmer and lives on a tiny homestead with his camels, cows and donkeys in Somaliland, feels no resentment or bitterness towards his famous Olympian brother. He has to walk four miles to the nearest village with electricity, to watch his brother Mo race. He says that when he watches Mo run: "It is as if I myself am running, so I cannot be jealous of him.

Extract 7

I Only Asked

by Gervase Phinn


On Sunday Dominic asked his dad:

"Which is the brightest star?"

"Ask your mum," his dad replied,

"I have to clean the car."

On Monday Dominic asked his mum:

"What's a carburettor?"

"Ask your dad," his mum replied,

"I've got to post this letter."

On Tuesday Dominic asked his dad:

"What is a UFO?"

"Ask your mum," his dad replied,

"The grass, it needs a mow."

On Thursday Dominic asked his dad:

"How tall are kangaroos?"

"Ask your mum," his dad replied,

"I'm listening to the news."

On Friday Dominic asked his dad:

"Do all kings have a crown?"

"Ask your mum," his dad replied,

"I'm going into town."

On Saturday Dominic asked them both:

"Do you mind me asking things,

About stars and cars and life on Mars

And kangaroos and kings?"

"Of course we don't," his dad replied,

"Ask questions as you grow."

"By asking things," his mother cried,

"That's how you get to know."

Little Dominic scratched his head,

And simply answered, "Oh!"

Extract 8

The Marrog

by R. C. Scriven

My desk's at the back of the class
and nobody, nobody knows
I'm Marrog from Mars
With a body of brass
And seventeen fingers and toes

Wouldn't they shriek if they knew
I've three eyes at the back of my head
And my hair is bright purple
My nose is deep blue,
My teeth are half yellow, half red.

My five arms are silver and spiked
With knives on them sharper than spears
I could go back right now if I liked-
And return in a million light years

I could gobble them all
For I'm seven foot tall
And I'm breathing green flames from my ears.

Wouldn't they yell if they knew,
If they guessed that a Marrog was here?
Ha-ha they haven't a clue-
Or wouldn't they tremble with fear!
"Look, look a Marrog!"
They'd all scream - and SMACK
The blackboard would fall and the ceiling would crack
And the teacher would faint, I suppose.
But I grin to myself, sitting right at the back
And nobody, nobody knows.

Extract 9

Iggy The Urk, Oi, Caveboy!

by Alan MacDonald


The Stone Age.

In the forests lived savage beasts-bears, snuggle-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, which looked like elephants badly in need of a haircut. People generally avoided the forests. They lived together in tribes because it was safer that way and easier on the cooking. One such tribe was the Urks.

The Urks were a warlike race with bushy beards and hairy legs-especially some of the women. Their clothes were made of animal skins and they lived in caves high on a hill, overlooking the Valley of Urk and the river winding through it. In one of these caves lived a boy called Iggy. He wasn't the tallest or hairiest in his tribe, but what he did have was imagination, and this got him into a whole heap of trouble. That of course is another story...luckily it's the story that's about to begin...

No Lumps.

Iggy woke to find his dad trying to light a fire-a task that involved a few sticks, some dry grass, two flints and a lot of cursing.

"Dung and blood!" he muttered under his breath.

"Dad?" said Iggy, emerging from the shadows of their cave.

"Not now, boy," snapped Dad irritably. "I'm busy."

For a while the only noise was Iggy trying not to bother his dad, which sounded like silence with occasional sighing. Then...

"Dad, look at this."

"FOR URK'S SAKE!" groaned Dad. "How can I make a fire with you yammering in my ear?"

"Sorry, but look what I found."

Dad turned his head. "Uhh. A stone."

"Yes, but it's flat. Look, no lumps." Iggy ran his hand over the stone, which was long and smooth and roughly the shape of a squished cowpat.

"What about her?" said Dad.

"I just thought it might be useful."

"Uhh," grunted Dad, and went back to striking the flints together. He was in a bad mood. Lately he was often in a bad mood. It was the cold and damp and sleeping on a hard cave floor and never getting any peace and quiet.

Iggy squatted down beside him.

"Dad? You know the river? Where does it go?"



"Don't go anywhere, her's a river. Pass us them sticks, boy."

"But it must go somewhere."


"Well, I was watching it yesterday and it moves. It sort of wibbles along."

"Wibbles? Talk sense!"

"I mean it runs-it runs down the valley. But where's it go then?"

Dad pulled at his beard. He'd never given the river any thought. It was just there. Cold and wet-except in winter when it was cold and frozen.

Extract 10

The Fool and the Donkey

An Iranian folk tale retold by David Heathfield


One morning, the fool woke up and he thought, ‘There is one thing I need, I need a donkey.’

So he left his home and walked until he came to the town. He came to the donkey stall. There were many donkeys. Some were big and some were small. Some had long ears and some very short. But among them there was one donkey that had long, floppy, silky ears.

‘This is the donkey for me.’

The fool paid the donkey stall holder and he led that donkey tied by a rope away from the stall and through the streets of the town, and there were two boys.

‘We can trick that donkey from that fool.’

One boy went up and he took the rope from around the donkey’s neck and he put it around his own neck and followed the fool, who didn’t even notice.

The other boy led the donkey back to the stall to sell it.

On through the streets and on away from the town to his home went the fool. And when he got to his home he turned and... uhhh: ‘When I bought you, you were a donkey. But now you’ve turned into a boy.’

‘It’s true, I was a donkey when you bought me, but, you see, before that I was a boy. I was rude to my mother, and my mother said, ‘If you are ever rude to me again may you be turned by the devil into a donkey.’ And so it was. But now that you have bought me, I am a boy once more and I belong to you.’

‘You belong to me?’ said the fool. ‘I cannot own a boy. Go, go, but promise me this: when you go to your mother, do not be rude to her again.’

The fool slept that night, and when he woke in the morning he realised there was something he still needed... He still needed a donkey. He went away from his home, taking his last few coins, and walked until he came to the town; through the streets he came until he came to the donkey stall. And there were all those donkeys large and small, some with larger ears than others. And among the donkeys he noticed there was one donkey with long, floppy, silky ears. He knew that donkey. He went over to it and he lifted its ear and said: ‘You foolish boy, I said never be rude to your mother again!’

Extract 11


by E.V. Rieu


Good afternoon, Sir Smasham Uppe!

We’re having tea: do take a cup!

Sugar and milk? - Now let me see

Two lumps, I think? . . . Good gracious me!

The silly thing slipped off your knee!

Pray don’t apologize, old chap:

A very trivial mishap!

So clumsy of you? - How absurd!

My dear Sir Smasham, not a word!

Now do sit down and have another,

And tell us all about your brother –

You know, the one who broke his head.

Is the poor fellow still in bed? –

A chair - allow me, sir! . . . Great Scott!

That was a nasty smash! Eh, what?

Oh, not at all: the chair was old –

Queen Anne, or so we have been told.

We’ve got at least a dozen more:

Just leave the pieces on the floor.

I want you to admire our view:

Come nearer to the window, do:

And look how beautiful . . . Tut, tut!

You didn’t see that it was shut?

I hope you are not badly cut!

Not hurt? - A fortunate escape!

Amazing! - Not a single scrape!

And now, if you have finished tea,

I fancy you might like to see

A little thing or two I’ve got.

That china plate? - Yes, worth a lot:

A beauty too . . . Ah, there it goes!

I trust it didn’t hurt your toes?

Your elbow brushed it off the shelf?

Of course: I’ve done the same myself.

And now, my dear Sir Smasham – Oh!

You surely don’t intend to go?

You must be off? - Well, come again

So glad you’re fond of porcelain!



porcelain-fine ceramic

Extract 12

My Beach Fortress

by Gareth Lancaster


I'm on the beach, I've come prepared.
I've looked around and I've compared.
The competition's not too hot,
And I've just found the perfect spot!

Now I unpack my bulging bag,
Of buckets, spades and cross-bones flag.
My plan I lay out on the sand,
So I can build my castle grand!

A bucket here, a bucket there,
A dug out trench that's nice and square.
A turret left, a turret right,
My castle of colossal height!

For hours and hours I fill and place,
More buckets to enlarge the base.
My castle's strong, my castle's tall,
Protected by its sandy wall!

The flag's the last thing to go on,
My work complete, my castle done.
A scary fortress in the sand,
This beach is under my command!

I'm captivated by the sight,
My castle just exudes its might.
Protected from both small and tall,
But what is this?..my brother's ball!

A darkened peril in the sky,
And in slow motion it does fly!
It's getting close, it's falling near,
My mouth drops wide, I dare not peer!

It's going to hit, oh no oh no,
My castle crumbles in one blow!
Strong to all attacks I know,
But brothers are the meanest foe!

Extract 13

Captain James Cook

by Ken Nelson –www.ducksters.com


Occupation: Explorer
Born: October 27, 1728 in Marton, England<
Died: Killed by natives at the Hawaiian Islands on February 14, 1779
Best known for: Exploring the South Pacific

James Cook was a British navigator and explorer who sailed and mapped much of the South Pacific.

Where did Captain Cook grow up?

James Cook was born on October 27, 1728 in Marton, England. His father was a farmer, but as James grew older he began to feel the lure of the sea. Cook decided to join the Royal Navy where he became a master at map making. His ability at surveying, navigating, and creating large accurate maps was noticed by those high up in the Navy.

The Endeavour

Cook was first given command of the Endeavour by England's Royal Society. The ship was a cat-collier that was typically used for carrying coal. It wasn't fast, but it was durable and could carry a lot of supplies.

Captain Cook introduced some rigid rules in order to keep his crew healthy and safe. He required his men to bathe every day, the ship to be kept very clean, and the bedding to be aired twice a week. He also brought lots of fresh fruit to keep his men from getting scurvy. These rules and planning helped his men to stay healthy throughout the long voyages ahead.

First Expedition

Cook set off for his first journey on August 26, 1768. His main objective was to observe the planet Venus as it passed between the Earth and the Sun. This would help astronomers to calculate the distance of the Sun from the Earth. He also hoped to find the southern continent.

Routes of Captain James Cook through the South Pacific.
Routes of Captain James Cook through the South Pacific. The first voyage is in red, the second in green, and the third in blue.


During this trip he visited Tahiti (where he made the observations of Venus), the Society Islands, and New Zealand. He mapped much of the two main islands of New Zealand, but also ended up fighting with the local Maori tribe.

Next stop on the journey was the east coast of Australia. Here James and his crew found all sorts of interesting animals and plants including the kangaroo. Unfortunately, the ship was damaged on some coral and they had to stop for a while to do repairs. Many of the crew got malaria from mosquitoes during this stop and over 30 of the crew died from the disease.

Finally they returned home in July of 1771, nearly three years after their departure.

Final Journey

Cook's final expedition lasted from 1776 to 1779. The goal of this journey was to find a northwest passage across North America to Asia. He searched the coast of Alaska to no avail. He did find the Hawaiian Islands, however (they were named the Sandwich Islands at the time).

At first Captain Cook and his men got along well with the natives of the Hawaiian Islands. However, things went bad when the natives stole a sailboat. Cook tried to kidnap the chief to hold him as ransom for the boat. In the attempt a fight broke out and he was killed by the natives.

Cook's ship the Resolution<
Cook's ship the Resolution

Fun Facts about Captain Cook

  • The first European to set foot on Australia's east coast was Cook's nephew Isaac Smith.
  • The Endeavour also had scientists aboard including botanist Joseph Banks. They collected and recorded numerous plants and animals throughout their journey.
  • Tahiti was so nice and the natives so friendly that some of Cook's crew wanted to stay.
  • The Maori warriors in New Zealand wore tattoos on their faces. Some of the Endeavour's sailors got tattoos on their arms and started a tradition that continues today.



Botanist-an expert in the scientific study of plants.

Scurvy-a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C

Extract 14

Fun Elephant Facts for Kids

by www.science kids.co.nz


Check out these interesting elephant facts and learn more about the biggest land mammal in the world.

Elephants are unique animals that live in parts of Africa and Asia. Scroll down for more information.

• There are two types of elephant, the Asian elephant and the African elephant (although sometimes the African Elephant is split into two species, the African Forest Elephant and the African Bush Elephant).

• Elephants are the largest land-living mammal in the world.

• Both female and male African elephants have tusks but only the male Asian elephants have tusks. They use their tusks for digging and finding food.

• Female elephants are called cows. They start to have calves when they are about 12 years old and they are pregnant for 22 months.

• An elephant can use its tusks to dig for ground water. An adult elephant needs to drink around 210 litres of water a day.

• Elephants have large, thin ears. Their ears are made up of a complex network of blood vessels which help regulate their temperature. Blood is circulated through their ears to cool them down in hot climates.

• Elephants have no natural predators. However, lions will sometimes prey on young or weak elephants in the wild. The main risk to elephants is from humans through poaching and changes to their habitat.

• The elephant’s trunk is able to sense the size, shape and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water then pour it into its mouth.

• An elephant’s trunk can grow to be about 2 metres long and can weigh up to 140 kg. Some scientists believe that an elephant’s trunk is made up of 100,000 muscles, but no bones.

• Female elephants spend their entire lives living in large groups called herds. Male elephants leave their herds at about 13 years old and live fairly solitary lives from this point.

• Elephants can swim – they use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.

• Elephants are herbivores and can spend up to 16 hours a day collecting leaves, twigs, bamboo and roots.



Predator- an animal that preys upon another


Extract 15

Harry's Mad

by Dick King-Smith

Introduction- from book

Having a Grey African parrot foisted upon him all the way from America isn't Harry's idea of a decent legacy. He'd been dreaming of untold riches then all he'd got was this boring old parrot! But when Mad introduces himself in perfect American, Harry discovers that the parrot has hidden talents.

For Mad is not just a chatty beak. He is an ace at board games and crosswords, a fund of useful information and a natural mimic. Even Harry's homework improves under Mad's expert tuition and soon the whole family is wondering what they ever did without him.


page 36-38

Mr Holdsworth put down his newspaper.

"That bird actually made a noise," he said, "that sounded almost like a word."

Opposite him, Harry was grinning all over his face.

"Now what's the joke?" said his father.

"Say 'Good morning', Harry said.

"I've already said it when I came downstairs."

"No, not to me Dad. Say 'Good morning' to Madison."

"Don't be so silly, Harry," his mother said. "Let Daddy read his paper in peace."

"Oh go on, Dad."

Mr Holdsworth shook his head resignedly.

"Well, if I must," he said. He looked at the parrot.

"Good morning," he said.

"Good morning," said Madison.

"Well I'm blowed," said Mr Holdsworth. "When did you learn to say that?"

Madison had opened his bill to say, "Oh, about forty years ago" when he saw Harry put his finger to his lips, so he shut it again.

"So you have actually begun to teach him things?" said his mother. "You just kept saying it to him till he repeated it? He said it very clearly, didn't he?"


Mrs Holdsworth leaned forward. "Good morning Madison," she said.

Madison bobbed his head at her.

"Good morning Madison," he replied.

"What a clever old bird you are," she said.

"What a clever old bird you are," said Madison.

"Amazing," said Harry's father. "He's a natural mimic. We might have known that Uncle George wouldn't have bothered with just any old parrot. Isn't it strange though, here's this creature repeating what we say, word for word..."

"Pronouncing everything quite correctly," interrupted Harry's mother, "and what's more, if you notice, with a distinct American accent."

"...which he well might," went on her husband, "considering after all Uncle George must often have played this sort of game with him, and yet - and this is the point of course - when it comes to the actual meaning of what we are saying, the bird hasn't a clue. Isn't that right my friend," he said to Madison, "not a clue?"

"Not a clue," said Madison gravely.

"It's a pity they haven't got proper brains like us, isn't it Dad? I mean, he could help you with the Sunday Times crossword puzzle."

"Don't be silly, Harry," said his mother, and to her husband, "off you go and settle down with your precious puzzle. Harry, time for you to do the washing up please. Put Madison back in his cage first."

"Yes Mum," Harry said.

In the passage between kitchen and sitting room he stopped for a moment, out of earshot of both parents.

"Mad," he said softly.

"Yeah, Harry?"

"Shall we let them in on the secret now?"

"I sure hope so, Harry boy. It's kinda weird, just repeating stuff all the time. Makes me feel a real dope."

"OK Mad," said Harry. "But wait till I've finished the washing up. I don't want to miss this."