Well it must be, mustn’t it? – why do I think this? Not because I am a little forgetful at times, neither because I am scared of going in a lift on my own, nor because I hear myself repeating things more than once; but because I don’t read.
I don’t read any more, and this from someone who devoured books at a great rate of knots – from someone who always, as her mother said, as a child could be found with her nose in a book.
I read everything from Cop Shooter to The famous five stories and secret seven adventures of the maligned Enid Blyton and read all my way through the children’s section at our local library in Liverpool – I went on my bike every Saturday morning – oh yes those were the days…
The children’s pilgrims progress had me enthralled.
I carried on reading into adolescence, anything and everything…
Ok so I wasn’t a discerning reader – but I loved it – from late nights with a torch under the bedclothes to lazy sunday mornings when I should have been doing something active perhaps, I could be found reading…and have stayed a reader all my life. Until now.
I have read Mills and Boon and Zane Grey and all the Leslie Charteris ‘Saint’ books ; from the Don Camillo Omnibus to Leslie Thomas and most things in between.
Oh and then I was in the sixth form for a year and went to college and a whole new world opened up – Dickens and T S Eliot and Thomas Hardy and Dylan Thomas, poems and stories that set my blood racing, and DH Laurence, oh the bliss, and Gerald Durrell and his animals and Maya Angelou…
I was transfixed with the magic and the beauty and the power of the English language – I just couldn’t get enough
So what’s happened? Has my brain shrunk? Have I no concentration? I can read a knitting pattern…
I can read the emails from my friends and I can write snail mail letters and emails in reply
Why oh why do I do jigsaws on the iPad and play spider solitaire and Mahjong?
I never used to – I loved getting into bed with my book – not a computer – or longed for the holidays when I could read uninterrupted
It was my escape – I wept at the sad parts and wept even more at the happy endings – I read Jilly Cooper every summer for a good few years such brilliant holiday reading; and I waited breathlessly for each new Dorothy Dunnet story of Francis Crawford of Lymond to be published. I read all H E Bates novels and was so disappointed with the tv adaptation of the darling buds of May I nearly cried and didn’t watch the rest of it until the repeats many years later.
I spent a lot of time in bookshops and browsing market stalls – I dreamt of having my own second hand bookshop – I spent any spare cash on books and I wouldn’t part with them – I remember lending Midnights Children to someone and not getting it back, and being so upset – I called my books my friends.
I discovered Mary Wesley and I couldn’t believe books could be so excellent – in fact I wore long skirts and big hats – if I’d have had dogs they’d have been called Milo and I dreamt I was going to be a writer.
Oh yes then I found out about Elizabeth Taylor and books like Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and all her others that were so – so just right for the English language and told of a time I didn’t know and a past I would not have belonged in – how I loved them all. Anita Brookner – I read and re read – such a way with words…
Later in life I discovered Penelope Fitzgerald and wondered why I hadn’t heard of her, then there was Rose Tremain and her Music and Silence gripped me and I kept reading her books too.
And then suddenly I realised I wasn’t choosing to read as relaxation, I would watch tv and knit, I learnt to use a sewing machine, I wrote some poems and did a few online writing courses. Now I don’t do writing courses – my ability to gain pleasure out of writing short stories or a couple of hundred words for woman’s weekly coffee time read or a piece of flash fiction seems to have left with my youthful enthusiasm and energy.
Maybe that’s it – I don’t need the escape any more.
I am content with my life, I am happy in my skin and I am all grown up…
Well I just hope the enjoyment of reading comes back to me – to be a writer you need to read, all the time and voraciously and I like to believe there is still time for me to write. I’m still out of the coffin – and 68 is just a number!