• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 09
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Just Press Play

Lizzie sits, cross legged on the carpet with Grandad’s Philips tape recorder in front of her. Beneath the pop-up slot’s brown perspex window, Lizzie can see the two neon eyes of the brand new cassette and its chubby brown nose, made of tape, ready to record.

Today, Lizzie will read The Animals of Farthing Wood, and she will do it with expression, just like the readers on Jackanory. Lizzie wants this tape to be very professional for Laura and uses special voices for Fox, Badger, Toad, Owl and the other characters. Badger has the deepest voice, like Mr Shaw’s at school, who’s voice Lizzie thinks most sounds like Daddy’s used to. She lowers her chin to touch her chest when she makes Badger’s voice.

If she accidentally muddles the voices during the recording, she can press pause, rewind a little, press play to check where to restart, then pause again, before firmly and definitively pressing record and play at the same time, (queue vocals). Sometimes that makes the tape all messy and Grandad has to wind a pencil in the cassette's eye until all the saggy tape is tight again.

So sometimes, Lizzie just pretends that the author had meant it to be read like she did, with the muddled bits. Lizzie knows her sister wouldn’t mind. In fact, Lizzie adds her own little bits of story because Laura would be looking at the pictures too, if she weren’t at the hospital.

After lights out, when Mummy is properly asleep next to Lizzie in her bed, Lizzie creeps up the ladder to Laura’s bunk. With her felt tip pens, careful not to mark the duvet cover, and wishing they weren’t so scratchy, she decorates each side of the cassette with love hearts, like the ones Mummy used to do on the family notice board.