8/08/2017

When storybook characters come alive.

When I was a child I read. I read a lot. In fact I read so much I'd often have two or three novels on the go at one time. Facts and non fiction I was hopeless at retaining, just ask my A level History teacher, but give me a good story and I would be hooked.

In the bath, in the car, instead of homework, on the loo - yes not just men do that and it turns out there's IS an upside to having a slow moving bowel, who knew?

Now I'm all growed up there just isn't the time to read one chapter let alone space in my head to retain the plot lines of three different books. I struggle to remember  what happened on 'Enders last night.

The only things I read currently are 'Peppa bloody Pig goes on holiday' thanks to my five year old or the latest David Walliams aloud to my 9 year old at bedtime. Turns out I do a mean impression of a lady pretending  to be a man pretending to be a lady character, if you know anything about David Walliams you will know what  I'm talking about. If I really am stuck for something to read there are always the six month old stale waiting room magazines in the doctor/hospital/dentist clinics I seem to regularly attend.

As a new early reader I clearly remember bring home my first reading book from reception class. I found my reception classroom to be terrifying.  I hated being left anywhere so my anxiety levels were through the roof when I started school. What didn't help was my teacher the curiously named Mrs Constable-Barrett, try writing that on the front of your worksheets when five or six years of age, had a thing for taxidermy. As far as the eye could see on various shelves, windowsills and desks sat a variety of stuffed woodland creatures. The freaked the bejesus out of me and the only section of the entire double room classroom that wasn't adorned with stuffed owls, pheasants,  kestrels and the like was the book corner which was my save place in a classroom full of dead animals and shouty very confident other children.

Back to my first reading book. It was entitled 'Look'. Five pages of ridiculously happy people wearing fluorescent outfits (it was the 80s) pointing at objects yelling 'LOOK' once per page. No wonder it remains in my head. That and the stuffed animals. I got to take that book home every evening for a whole week, before I moved up a level.

As I learned to read I discovered so many wonderful authors, Enid Blyton for the
boarding school classics and the adventurous Famous Five, Jill Murphy for the Worst Witchford and Roald Dahl for just about everything!

Any book that featured a boarding school I lapped up, I never would have had been sent to boarding school but i always thought it would be such fun, midnight feasts, tuck boxes, fancy uniforms, travelling to each others houses for adventures during the holidays, writing home and getting good a parcel of goodies in return. I would get so lost in these stories.

I Throughout my life many characters I met in these books seemed to turn into real life people. When I was given extra tutoring for my A level History exam the tutor turned out to be a replica of how I had imagined Uncle Quentin the world famous scientist and quick tempered father of George in the Famous Five series. I forget his actual name Dr something or other, he would appear every Thursday for an hour with a pile of musty old history books that I wasn't the slightest bit interested in and I would sit there bored brainless wishing I was stuck into one of my three titles I had on the go. He was the just as i imagined Uncle Quentin to be, forgetful with practicalities, but full of knowledge at the click of a finger at any period of history. Moody and very awkward, never made eye contact and smelled as musty as his books. Probably slept among them I thought.

During one of my hospital stays I met Miss Hardbroom from the Worst Witch series. She was the terrifyingly strict form mistress of the main characters, Maude,  Enid and Ethel. In my head she was stick thin with elbows that could cut glass and fingers long and pointy with nails so sharp they could pick a lock. Groomed slick hair glued back in a Croydon face-lift with dark eyes and lips. Miss Hardbroom appeared in the former of a night nurse charged to look after all the patients on my ward. She appeared as if from nowhere at the side of my bed as if in a silent puff of green smoke with her pointy nose, crooked teeth whispering 'medication time...' if i had been able to I would have dived under the covers and hoped it was all a nightmare but I couldn't as was still in pain from my surgery. In fact despite looking exactly as I had imagined Miss Hardbroom to be, she was nothing like her, turns out she was the  nicest nurse I'd met during my stay and couldn't do enough for me, reminding me never to provide judge a book, or person by their cover. A cliché but true.





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