Sunday, April 29, 2007

In which we discuss the past

I recently had the pleasure of reading two books by Andrew Collins about his relatively sane, idyllic childhood. This made a welcome change from biographies of untold misery, of which I have read many and which I am now endeavouring to avoid. Andrew has an advantage over me - an almost complete set of diaries he has kept throughout his life (barring the one he destroyed in teen angst).

This is not a biography, more a loosely collected group of memories and probably photos from my pretty(ish) days. I sometimes dwell a little much on the issues and traumas of my youth, and no doubt this will creep in, but I rarely play the glad game. I'm seeking to rectify this here, partially in an attempt to make me write more and structure my thoughts whilst honing my editing skills (never a pleasure, always a chore).

So this blog is about the people - past and present - who've made my life what it is, and in doing so enriched me in ways that I truely appreciate but rarely acknowledge.

Ps...did I mention the lists? There will be lotsa lists, as I'm consious they're taking up to much of my main blog. Random, non-sensical and probably boring as hell, but all reminding me of something I want to be reminded of!

Todays random list: 6 books that hit me like a shovel when I was younger:
  1. The Hobbit - where would we be without JRRT? Gifted to me in glorious illustrated form for winning top prize in English (ain't won anything since!), this is a book I will never tire of reading
  2. The Enchanted Wood / The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton - I loved all Blyton's stuff as a kid, all her Secret books, the famous five, etc. But the stories I loved the most were the Faraway Tree stories, not so much for the characters but because of the dizzy reality that you could ascend a tree with such ease and find a host of new worlds and new pleasures hidden at the top, where adults would never interfere and houses were quite often edible. I always had to eat bread and cheese reading Blyton books.
  3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett - the children in this were quite dreadful, spiteful nasty little gits who shouted at one another and were filled with their own pomposity. However, their's is also a tragic tale, having lost either one or both parents they find themselves in a locked and walled garden of delights. I always wanted that garden, I wanted the straggling roses and the tree swing.
  4. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis - not for me the irritation of Lucy in the LWW. No, this series started with the Magician's Nephew, and I recall buying the grubby paperback from the newsagent's next to the pub and finding myself in pure bliss as the many worlds washed over me (hmmm...there's a definate theme emerging here!).
  5. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell - I cried when Ginger died, I really did. This book spawned a lifelong love of horses that endures today, despite my allergies. It's a heroic tale of bravery and the cruelty of men, I still own my mother's copy and have resisted every urge by my dear brother for me to give it to his daughter - selfish maybe, but its something I truely treasure,
  6. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge - a homespun tale of 19th century life through the eyes of Katy, a strong vivacious and sometimes thoughless girl who finds herself following a serious accident. I guess I fell for the moral tone, the valentine's day celebrations and the rich and vivid depiction of a girl child's imagination at work.

I wonder when this wide eyed engagement with escape and other worlds began? It certainly hasn't ended. There are other stories missing from there, not because I didn't enjoy them, but because I need to go to bed! There's Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, The Silver Brumby (about a wild stallion - this prompted many months of me believing I was a horse...), Winnie the Pooh, anything Roald Dahl ever wrote, The Borrowers - it appears I didn't read any contempory fiction until I discovered sci-fi / fantasy at my local library and the librarian turned a blind eye to my borrowings from the adult section!