I was walking along south of the Thames this morning, in the vicinity of London Bridge, when I passed in front of the Unicorn Theatre, which puts on plays aimed at children. And the sign caught my eye:
Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine.
That's only the best book EVER!!! It's a lovely illustrated rhyming children's story about an inventor named Septimus Bean who arrives at the palace of Kind Albert the Third (and his wife and 7 young daughters), driving a big blue machine he's invented.
Only no one can figure out just what the machine actually does. They try cleaning the floors with it, washing clothes with it, driving it as a coach, and flying with it, before the machine crashes and falls apart into many pieces. But - SPOILER ALERT - the 7 young princesses begin playing on the pieces of machine, and it turns out what Septimus Bean had invented all along was a playground:
"and what could be nicer to visit every day,
than a place you've invented for children to play!"
Written in 1980 by Janet Quin-Harkin, and apparently long out of print, my family read it over and over and over when my siblings and I were growing up. We had big portions of it memorized. We probably still do. When I sent my sister a picture of the theatre sign, her response was typical: "OH MY GAWWWWWWWD! Go IMMEDIATELY! I wanna goooooo!"
And I wanna goooooo too! After all, the sign says "Ages 4+." That's me! I meet the requirements! I mean, there's no maximum age listed. So what if I'd be the only person there without a small child? It'd be just like the time I stood in line at Disneyland at the age of 28 to get my picture taken with Tigger!!! (Which was SO worth it.)
Sadly, the play was only running through the end of June, which is slightly heart-breaking as it means I've missed it. But still, just thinking of it brought back such fun memories of family time, silliness, and stories. Now I just need to track down an out-of-print copy for whenever I have kids.
So that I can read them the story of Septimus Bean, who flew through the air in a flying machine.