Monday, February 18, 2008

A Good Book Has No Ending.

week two of non-tv watching.

i think i would have been better served if i had given up the computer for lent instead of the tv.

unfortunately i seem to have switched from wasting time in front of the goggle box to wasting time in front of the computer. i might have to rethink this one.

on the good side tho, i am getting lots of reading done. i'm onto another book and have cleared up a backlog of unfinished magazines which have been littering my nighttable for longer than i care to think about.

i finished atonement last week. sadly, briony turned out to be a right pain in the arse and the story's descriptive passages made reading it feel like wading through porridge. give me a bill bryson, a roddy doyle or a frank mccourt any day. the beauty of their sparse, but insightful prose or dialogue ignites the imagination and forces you to turn the page while making you laugh out loud. i'm sure atonement will be a lovely movie but perhaps the working class girl in me will never be able to relate fully to the uptight, upper classes and their nasal viewpoint of the world.

glad it is finished.

feel a sense of achievement about that.

when i grew up our family didn't have a tv. we couldn't afford one. therefore i was fascinated by it and made friends with girls in my neighbourhood who might invite me in to watch. i would watch anything. literally. and back in the day there was not a lot of choice. programming didn't start till very late in the afternoon and there were only 2 channels to choose from.

one day i was dawdling at the house of a new found 'friend' who lived in my street. waiting for the programming to start i made a pretence of being enthralled with our game of dolls but i knew her parents were hoping i would leave soon without them having to tell me to. back then, play nearly always took place out of doors, regardless of the weather, so i must have done some pretty good maneuvering to wangle myself indoors. when the ejection came i asked if i could come back at 7.25 p.m. to watch "all our yesterdays". it was a black and white, historical documentary about the days before and between the two world wars. i was about 8. the man of the house, my "friend's" father, looked at me strangely and said, as he shut the door firmly on my upturned questioning face, "go home pet. your tea's ready"

however, we had the radio. or the wireless as we called it. you had to tune in the stations by turning a huge dial until the signal came in. in the days of radio luxembourg it was particularly magical.

everyday there were plays, serials, dramas, comedies and music.

i grew up listening to serializations of children's books like "the lion the witch and the wardrobe." my mother listened to "mrs. dale's diary" the first post war soap opera which debuted (before my time) in 1948 and was told from the viewpoint of a refined doctor's wife. then there was "the archers, an everyday story of country folk." set in the fictional village of ambridge. that theme music is burned onto the neurons of my brain.

my favourite show was "the clitheroe kid." the kid, i was later surprised to learn, was in fact played by a man. he was a latter-day equivalent of maybe someone like today's fresh prince of bel air, albeit with a lancashire accent. his gift was a quick wit, fast one-liners and the ability to make kids laugh while putting bemused and unsuspecting adults in their places.

while the radio played and the coal fired crackled and spat i would curl up in the chair and read books. our house was full of books.

there were volumes and volumes of encyclopedia and tomes such as butler's lives of the saints. reader's digests, classic novels and ancient children's stories. i read them all. anything and everything i could put my hands on.

many of the books were already ancient when they came to us. we never turned down a donation. books with yellowed pages; books with odours so strong i can still recall them to this day. i remember several books we had were given as prizes to students as marks of achievement. i can see a red bound copy of a book whose name has escaped me but the bookplate inside told me that it was awarded to Posy Mary Sheilds for good handwriting at Central School in Newcastle, in 1911.
i always endeavoured to have beautiful handwriting myself after that.
i didn't want Posy Mary to worry in her old age that her book may have fallen into the hands of someone who scribbled.


Anonymous said...

Can I have my prize book back please? Posy Mary Shields, Owld Fowks Home, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Wor Vron said...

"go home your teas ready pe" -I love it!! I of course remember always having television at home all be it black and white and can remember when the Irvings up the street were the first to get colour tv -I always over stayed my welcome !!!

wor Vron said...

oops I meant pet not pe!!

Clippy Mat said...

that would have been the Hills, down the bottom of the street! remember?

Qing-jao said...

Good post.