And now for something completely different.
Growing up on an isolated Welsh hillside as an only child, I spent hours and hours and hours with my head buried deep in a book, devouring the words, savouring the freedom and escapism that the magical combination of paper and printed words provided. My favourite authors fired my imagination and my physical world readily adapted itself to my demands. Grass became sea, trees became crow’s nests as I sailed the Seven Seas (my reputation was fearsome and bloody. I took no prisoners). I joined the ranks of Robin Hood’s Merry Men and Women in the woods on a neighbour’s land (Marion and I kicked butt). And, of course, the wonderful, scruffy ponies who were my other companions were more than willing to take on new identities (small wonder, since it usually involved galloping at top speed).
I’ve had several conversations over the past few weeks about childhood books, which have stirred up a lot of wonderful memories. I dare say that any attempts to read most of those books now would result in disappointment, but that matters not. At the time, they were wonderful.
Naturally, I became the honorary member of the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, the Adventurous Four and The Five Find-Outers (not forgetting the Adventure Series and the Barney mysteries), and joined in the midnight feasts at both St Clare’s and Malory Towers.
Josephine, Christine and Diana Pullein-Thompson took up a considerable amount of room on my bookshelves, as did Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series, Patricia Leitch’s Jinny and Shantih books, Pat Smythe (The Three Jays), Ruby Ferguson (Jill) and Judith Berrisford (Jackie), to name but a few. Not forgetting the likes of Monica Dickens and Mary O’Hara, plus a whole host of short stories and annuals, as well as wonderful one-offs such as Coco the Gift Horse, Jerry: the story of an Exmoor pony, Topper, Rosina Copper and Black Beauty.
James Herriot was a firm favourite of mine, though I only read the last books in his series a couple of years ago, and he was joined by a whole host of books and stories about animals in general, though only one author I can currently remember is Dick King-Smith.
As a teen, I discovered my mother’s collection of novels, fact and faction, about the Second World War (my favourites being the POW escape stories) but it only occurs to me now that this was preceded my some of my favourite books in younger years: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, The Silver Sword, I am David, Fireweed, and Carrie’s War.
Other authors, titles and series that randomly spring to mind as the ones I read and reread the most often are The Hobbit, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Robin Hood, William Tell, the Green Gables books, Rosemary Sutcliff, Roald Dahl, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, The Children of the New Forest, Louisa May Alcott (all four, not just Little Women), Malcolm Saville (the Lone Pine books), Kidnapped, The Call of the Wild, The Wind in the Willows, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, Goodnight Mister Tom…
Hmm, my memory is clearly failing me as that list is far too short! Well, I enjoyed them at the time, even if I can’t remember them now!
(I wasn’t a huge fan of many “classics” and still shudder at the memory of What Katy Did and The Secret Garden. I have never read the Alice books and gave up on fairy tales at a very early age because the girls were all wimps.)
Yup, it’s safe to say that books were my friends as I was growing up – and still are today, though I’ve only read a handful of books in recent months.
I aim to change that and for me, 2010 will be the Year of the Book.
No, honestly, it will. I’m going to join a library and everything. 😀