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By Ottaviano Bon, John Withers

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Extra info for A Description of the Grand Signour's Seraglio or The Turkish Emperours Court

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For example, aged three, when told at the swimming pool that it was time to come out of the water, he pleaded ‘One more! Me frog. Me fish. ’ then dutifully did as he’d been asked. As a parent it’s always a salutary lesson to discover that one’s offspring are brighter than oneself. I wasn’t prepared to have that sobering realisation dawn when Tom was only three but it was a lesson I had to learn early. We had returned from some days on the Nuffield course and I was putting the washing on the line, when the wind blew the front door shut behind me.

He could eventually take on abstract ideas. On his first morning at Junior Church, where thanks to Father Jeremy’s foresight, he was lucky enough to have a leader who happened to be a teacher of the deaf, he came home and announced solemnly that ‘God made the world’ followed by a very thoughtful, ‘and God made the Thomas’. ’ Later on he could use words manipulatively, too. ’ With signs one could reason with him, explain things, include him. He in turn could tell us if he was happy or sad, cold or tired, hungry or thirsty, hurt or cross.

For the deaf youngster whole sequences of events can be recorded. For example, going to choose a Christmas tree, carrying it home, decorating it, sitting amid the presents beneath it, stripping it on Twelfth Night and finally helping plant it in the garden! We have shots of Tom stirring the pudding mixture and then admiring it in all its glossy, black glory on Christmas day, hanging up his empty stocking, and a beatific expression as he prodded its exciting bulges the following day. He was normally quite happy to be caught by my snapping but on rare occasions would pull the sort of face he knew I would not commit to film!

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A Description of the Grand Signour's Seraglio or The Turkish Emperours Court by Ottaviano Bon, John Withers


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