This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to us by the Broke and the Bookish
, requires us to list ten of our top bookish moments. So, in no particular order……….
I’ve posted about this
, but one of my fondest childhood bookish moments was waking up in
the early hours of Christmas morning to find that Santa Claus had left a
stocking containing not only a copy of Animal
but also a torch. The
combination of surreptitious reading under the covers and discovering Orwell
for the first time is difficult to beat.
Day at the beach with Agatha.
the ages of about 10 to 13, I was hooked on Agatha Christie and I can remember
one particular summer holiday, in Cornwall, during a particularly “English”
summer. My parents bought me a copy of Poirot’s Early Cases
(the one with the
Affair of the Victory Ball) and I absolutely devoured it while huddling on a
chilly beach or sitting in the car on interminable journeys around the South West. I have very fond memories of that holiday and
a Christie book still transports me back to a lovely time in my childhood.
people read Tolkien too.
loved The Hobbit
as a child and then
having discovered The Lord of the Rings
by half-inching (stealing, for all you non-Brits) The Fellowship of the Rings
from my parents’ book cabinet, I soon
was completely obsessed with Middle Earth.
And then, I went on a prep school trip to Switzerland for a two-week
intensive French course. The group from
one of the other participating prep schools included a few kids who were into
Dungeons and Dragons, which I had never even heard of at the time, and I wound
up in a massive argument with one of them about the physical appearance of orcs
during the course of which I discovered that he and the others in the group had
all read LotR
too. I was amazed.
Other people read Tolkien? It had
never crossed my mind that he could be anything other than my own personal secret. I was half-delighted and half-appalled but
the feeling of revelation has stuck in my mind. Rereading this, I must have been a complete nerd. Oh well.
the fat with Hunter.
Up until 2006,
Charing Cross Road was the home to one of London’s best bookshops. Actually, it was, and is still, home to
several of London’s best bookshops but the one I’m thinking of was Sportspages,
which did exactly what the tin said and specialised in books about sport and
exercise. For me, one of its main
attractions was its collection of books and magazines on US sports (of which I am
a big fan - Celtics, Dolphins, Red Sox and Bruins if you’re interested). Anyway, one afternoon, I was in there and
noticed that Hunter Davies was talking to one of the assistants whom I knew
slightly. For those of you who haven’t
heard of him, Hunter Davies is, in my opinion, one of the best British
generalist journalists and authors of the late 20th
Century. As well as writing the only authorised
biography of the Beatles, he wrote one of the most acclaimed books about English
football, The Glory Game
, and for
many years was a brilliant columnist for Punch
(which is where I first came across him).
I shamelessly inserted myself into the conversation and spent a splendid
ten minutes chatting about the then soon-to-be-published autobiography of Paul
Gascoigne, which he had ghost-written.
Great writer, lovely man, nice memory.
I love Asterix and
Obelix. Always have done. In book form, album form and film form. Tintin comes a close second but Asterix is my
favourite comic strip character.
Unfortunately, my parents, being quiet strict on that kind of thing did
not approve of comics. I was allowed an
educational magazine called Look and
(which had one sneaky little comic strip in the middle) and football
magazines but no comics. Not the Beano
or Whizzer and Chips
. Not Spiderman
. Not even Commando
. But Asterix nevertheless
gave me two great moments. The first was
on a shopping trip when my Mum offered to buy me a book. The shop had some Asterix books. Not the usual large album format but in a
paperback book format, compact and with the illustrations in black and
white. I picked up Asterix at the Olympic Games
and accompanied Mum to the till,
taking care to keep hold of the book until it was time to hands it over to the
assistant. And then, dear Reader, unlike
George Washington I told a lie. On
questioning from the female parent, I successfully claimed that it wasn’t a
comic strip but a written Asterix story.
Who says crime doesn’t pay?
off with Arthur Dent.
I went to a
prep school in a small village with plenty of countryside around it. There was a local drag hunt (no foxes
involved!) that sometimes used to ask the school for a couple of volunteers to
follow the hunt to make sure that none of the hounds got separated from the
pack and lost. One Sunday, a friend and
I volunteered and duly set off. After an
hour or so (it was a cold autumn day), we decided we’d had enough so we bunked
off. Fortunately, my friend lived close
by and so we went back to his farmhouse, where, after getting hold of tea and
biscuits, he put on a tape recording of some the BBC radio adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
. It was a wonderful afternoon and my first
introduction to Arthur, Zaphod and Marvin.
wrecked with the Inklings.
the Inklings themselves, obviously, but with their shades at any rate. The Eagle and Child (or Baby and Bird as it
was, ever so wittily, known to us students) on St Giles in Oxford was the pub
where Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and friends would convene for beer and the reading of
their manuscripts. I used to go there
occasionally during my student days and, just occasionally, would get a little
thrilled feeling at sitting in the same place where the great men had sat 40
I bend the rules a little for Lord Peter?
I think I’m stretching the topic a little far with this one but here
goes. During those same student days, I
read all of Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books. Gaudy
was a particular favourite, set as it was in Oxford and Edward
Petherbridge, a wonderful actor, had only recently played Wimsey in a TV
adaptation of that novel. I had decided
to attend a Hallowe’en party in the guise of Dracula and wanted to do it
properly so I hired a heavy black cape from a local theatrical dress shop to go
with the evening wear, make-up and fangs.
On the evening, I was about to put it on when I caught a quick glimpse
of the label inside. On it was written the
word, “Petherbridge”. Not a common name,
I suspect and so I think I was not acting unreasonably to believe it was the
cloak worn in the programme. I have to
confess, this really did chuff me and I’m still quite tickled by it now. Odd really.
new family tradition.
actually a few moments wrapped into one.
Every Christmas Eve since she was born, I have sat mini-Falaise on my
lap on the rocking chair in our living room and solemnly read her The Night Before Christmas.
Although she enjoys it, I suspect I enjoy
it more, just the feeling of my over-excited and still innocent daughter
snuggled up with me on the eve of Christmas.
Very special and I am not looking forward to the time when she decides
she’s too old for it.
dawn of a new age.
decided to see if mini-Falaise was at a stage where she was prepared to start
having a longer book as her bedtime story, spread over a number of days. I chose Roald Dahl’s Matilda
as my experimental book as she loves the story and is obsessed
with the character. Well, it’s been working
and I got all choked up the other day when I came home and she demanded “more
pages of Matilda
” with some
force. We’ve nearly finished and she has
already decided she wants Charlie and the
, one of my childhood favourites, next.