As a kid I wasn’t read to. When I became a parent I understood why! I wouldn’t have had time to read to seven kids either, let alone inclination. Anyhow, when I was about 10 I had a book shoved under my nose by my mother. Read this, she insisted, dismissively. I tried, really I did, but I couldn’t concentrate, wasn’t interested, or maybe I couldn’t read. They Found a Cave was the book, and recently, to my surprise, I recognized its sepia tones on my sister’s bookshelf, picked it up, flicked thru it, felt a cold and unwelcome contraction of my heart muscle, and returned it to the shelf. I recently tapped its title into google. The book’s about the lives of four orphans, their relocation and battling the baddies. I wasn’t an orphan but it sure felt like it.
Not surprisingly, my book destiny never really passed go! What reading I’ve done over the decades has got me by tho. Although I didn’t finish high school, I must have read at least one book because I won a competition in third form sponsored by Actil Cotton Mills. I shamelessly plagiarized the entire text, adding a sample of cotton I secretly cut off a sheet (and got belted for it later!) enhancing it with meticulously traced pictures of machinery from books like they were my own. I won a set of bed sheets!
I must have read books at Business College for two years, but if I did I don’t remember, and besides I don’t have to because I’m an ace typist, administrator, and sometimes an all round smart-arse when it comes to meetings and noteworthy events at which I can demonstrate my knowledge of Mr Pittman’s weird shapes and symbols, those that impersonate words, are lightning fast to record and code-named shorthand.
During a theatre costume diploma, the technical and history books I read, and you guessed, barely remember, relit a fire in my belly, and my inner aesthete and costumier was reborn, along with my passion for sharp scissors (and knives!) . All those corsets, doublets, trunkhose, frockcoats and codpieces are now buried and communing with moth balls in tea chests in the shed, but not forgotten.
In the corridors of academia for a year, I read some Foucault and Flaubert, but don’t ask me what they said.
I’ve now become a bookworm, greedy for horizontal time with my favourite authors. I have a book bucket-list from here to Africa, and only half a life-time left to make a mark. I’m not complaining. I’ve gladly and willingly retreated into the ranks of the obsessed-by-words movement, and whilst it probably does little to cultivate the soft heart of my social animal, half a century of forgetting behoves half a century of remembering. Should I not answer the phone or door, well, it’s not personal, I’m just busy, right! So if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with the page and to borrow the only useful term I remember from uni I intend to ‘faire et se taire’ ( ‘shut up and get on with it’ Flaubert).