Thursday, April 28, 2022

Are you sitting comfortably? by Catriona

Life: Share memories of being read to.

That's not an inappropriate enquiry about colonic health, by the way. That's how Daphne Oxenford used to start "Listen With Mother" on BBC radio when I was wee. Next she'd say "Then I'll begin". After that, we were off! To the 100 Aker Wood, to Narnia, to Toad Hall, to tea with a tiger . . . to heaven.

That was mid-afternoon, just before Woman's Hour. A bit later, towards evening, Jackanory aired on the telly. In its 3,500 episodes (thank you, Wikipedia) it had the likes of Alan Rickman, Judi Dench and John Hurt sitting in that armchair reading stories to children.

Jackanory favourite (yes, of course I've still got it)

But still, the best thing of all was when Mummy came upstairs to read to us at bedtime. I have no memory of what she read, except that she didn't much care for Beatrix Potter so it was never those. (Huh! These days, she's got an actual collection of Jemima Puddleduck memorabilia. I'm just saying.)

I prefer her later, darker period (and yes, I've still got it)

I do remember, at the age of seven, agitating for fair treatment under the law when my poor mum - bringing up four of us, washing our clothes, cooking three meals a day, ironing every stitch everyone wore - suggested that, since I could read myself now (I could; my big sisters taught me), maybe she could put her feet up downstairs and have a cup of tea instead. I was outraged. I shared a room with my next sister up, see? And so she got to hear *my* story! Meaning that she was still getting a bedtime story at the age of nine! And yet I was being cut off two years younger? If I'd had a union rep I'd have been right on the phone to them. 

What I was reading under my own steam (yes I've ...)

That might have been when I decided to run away from home and live with my Godmother, Aunty Doreen, who always had time to sit and read. (Because her kids were grown up and we only visited her on a Sunday.) I packed my bag of essentials - storybooks and a pair of slippers - and said my goodbyes. Then my mum pointed out that I'd need a nightie and my toothbrush and my school clothes because if I ran away from home it was for keepsies. That hadn't occurred to me. I unpacked my slippers and reshelved my books. 

Running away plans also greatly hampered by stories about family (yes)

At some point, I graduated to goodnight kisses without any more drama. I'd even put a finger in my book to keep my place while I ripped my imagination away from mythical places like "Boston" and offered my cheek for the salutation. Kids, eh?

Hands-down favourite book I read and re-read to myself (y)


Anonymous said...

I was read to, also until I could read myself. And I read to my children. When the eldest was three, I decided to read Kipling to him because I was tired of Dr Seuss.

I read until I thought he was asleep. But when I stopped, he opened his eyes and said “keep reading the pretty words Mama.” The pretty words, too advanced for three, we’re recognized as special anyway.

Read to your children. Or to someone’s children.

Anonymous said...

It is I, Ann Mason

Catriona McPherson said...

LOL, Ann. That reminds me of my sister singing my niece to sleep one Christmastime. "The Little Drummer Boy" was the carol. So Wendy crooned "Come, they told me, pa-rump-a-pump-pum" as you would and Amy struggled awake, fixed her with a glare, and asked "Why you go pum-pum-pum, Mummy?" Good question, eh?

Susan C Shea said...

If there were radio voices available to listen to, I didn't know about them, darn it. Having Alan Rickman read anything to me would have been a lasting memory. What boggles the mind is you have kept all these books. Sadly, we moved too often when I was growing up and a shattered family just sheds things with abandon. I did keep my Mary Poppins and Stuart Little and handed them to my sons, but they have long since lost sight of them.