My first thought was “Wow!” My second thought was “If I look a mess I’m not doing it”. I was really missing reading with the children in school, so being asked to read “Tidy” for the Storytime with Very series during lockdown was a boost. I’d be up there with the celebs, with a great story to share, and a nice bit of exposure for Coram Beanstalk.

Win win, as long as I could tame my lockdown hair!

It was simple; record it on the phone and upload it to a sharing site where the Very people would pick it up and edit whatever I sent them. I looked carefully at the storyboard information about facing a window to get the best light and so on. Laura from Very said “Make the background neutral, white if possible. Look up into the camera, oh, and the light’s best first thing in the morning”. Laura hasn’t met me first thing...

Nevertheless, early one morning I put on full makeup for the first time in a couple of months and went into my work room to set up and go for a take or two. I became my own production team; lights, camera, action. (I didn’t hold out much hope for the after-party.) I took down the picture on the only bit of wall not filled with books, but I kept a glimpse of a colourful sofa. I balanced my phone on a stack of books and baskets, tilted forwards perilously with a couple of wedges of Blu tack.

Take 1 was a reality check, not too bad, Take 2 didn’t show the top of my head, but, like Goldilocks, Take 3 was just right. Perched on the edge of the low sofa bed, I welcomed the audience to watch and enjoy “Tidy”.

I have read “Tidy” with several children in my RH sessions, and talked about the environmental issues it raises. The more I read it in preparation for the recording, the more I began to see in it about survival, and I felt compassion for Pete’s anxiety to keep the forest under control. It’s possible we’ve all felt anxious sometime over the past few months, but there is evidence that wildlife has flourished in unexpected places. It’s a timely book to have in the Starter Pack.

It took me no time at all to record the story but much more time than it should have done to work out how to send it. In the end someone suggested I sit outside the house and use my Mobile Data, and no, I don’t know what that means but yes, it arrived in time for Very to work their magic, and three days later “Tidy” was up on their You Tube channel.

I can see my recording of “Tidy” has had nearly 70,000 views! Perhaps the same child is watching it over and over again. I can’t wait to get back to reading and chatting and laughing regularly with three children in school, but whether it was one child or 70,000 watching “Tidy”, it was great to be connected in this way and I was really proud to be part of this initiative.

Thanks for asking me, Coram Beanstalk, and thanks Very!

Watch Sara's reading of 'Tidy' here