Watching this programme brought old favourites back into my mind; I’d forgotten that I used to love The Wind in the Willows and Bre’r Rabbit and Heidi. They must have slipped through the cracks in my memory or were battered over the head by Enid Blyton; she seduced me away from nature stories and forced me to believe in fairies and yearn to live in trees.
Superhero comics belonged to Saturdays. On the way to Granny’s little house in the city we would cut through the Gorbals to exchange our comics and buy one new one every week. I think I was in love with tiny people because, along with a story in The Bunty, (I think) I remember superman having a miniature domed city full of little Kryptonians – no one else seems to remember either. I always wanted my own Living Doll – I think that was the title of the other story.
All of these stretches of the imagination (talking animals, tiny people, fairies and superheroes) followed a year of having an imaginary friend. I’m sorry that I don’t remember her now; her name was M A R I O N and pronounced for clarity, so I’ve been told. My father had to help her on buses and I would scream if anyone sat on her – he also had to take her hand and swing her just like he did me. I think books seduced me away from M A R I O N.
I always wanted to go on adventures and luckily we lived across the road from an old internment camp; it had a big old house with a monkey-puzzle tree, a froggy pond, a burn (river) and a wood – we spent all day in there. My grandchildren will never experience anything like that except for the camping trips around the loch with my son but always supervised.
Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe crept into my life but Enid’s Famous Five and Superheroes and comicland’s The Four Marys pretty much stole the show until teen mags appeared – as I remember more I’ll have to come back and update this!
When did romance arrive? I’m not sure. My mother read big magazines like: True Romance and True Detective, and I read them after her. My father read westerns and crime novels, and I read them too. I grew up the day (in my fourteenth year) that the teacher yelled at me in the school library – ‘Just pick any book and SIT DOWN.’ I grabbed Neville Shute’s On The Beach and it broke my little teenage heart. It was the first time a book had ever made me cry. Then I moved on to Mills & Boon – I was a real woman then.
So, the books that shaped me from childhood to sixteen would be Blyton’s The Faraway Tree, Superman comics, Shute’s On The Beach and a million romance novels. No wonder I ran wild.
I used to be a raver but I’m all right now. Add to all that every pot-boiler and pulp-fiction novelist producing in the 70s 80s and 90s and you’ll get the complete picture of me – yes, I’ll have read almost anything you can dig up by almost anyone. I lived a lot though, drank and shagged a lot…and dragged up three kids by myself…and then I’d had enough and popped along to college where an English teacher gave me a reading list and introduced me to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And the rest is history.