Are You Sitting Com-fort-ably?

photo (1) blog 1One of my earliest memories, is sitting on my grandad’s knee in a thick cloud of pipe smoke, (aromatic, home-grown, probably illegal now!), listening to some mystical words on the Home Service: Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne and Dogger; easterly, veering south-easterly. Becoming cyclonic?

What was all that about? What did it mean? Didn’t matter.

Then, the wonderfully warm voice of Daphne Oxenford, who died last year: ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then, I’ll begin.’

Ah, lovely. Listen with Mother. Or, grandfather, in my case.

More fond memories, of sitting under the kitchen table, hidden by fringing on the chenille tablecloth and listening to my mum, her sisters, my grandma – the rise and fall of their voices, the buzz of gossip. Knitting needles clicked, teaspoons clinked. A lot of laughter, some sniffing and tutting.

Even then, that ritual – the music and rhythm of words and voices – seemed so seductive.

At seven, an only child and living in my head, I became an avid reader, anything and everything – copying out pages and pages of Enid Blyton to see how she did it. (How did she do it!)

The habit of plucking out words from texts, started around then.

photo 2A blog 1This is a small part of my ‘office’ at home. It’s a bit like a mouse’s nest – a mess of fluff and feathers, paper, pens, post-its. (My mind’s probably much the same.) On every wall, bits and bobs  – phrases, poems, hints, tips, pics – from Ovid to Spike Milligan. They spur me on, slow me down, lift me up. I’m still collecting, just can’t stop it.

Who else remembers Shannon, Rockall, Viking, German Bight? Light icing! In South Utsirra? Magical, seductive. Don’t you think ?

And what was that song? Faraway places with strange-sounding names, calling, calling me. It’s why I wrote An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy!

June

 

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Posted on March 25, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Takes me back June. Looking forward to reading your book on flight to Hong Kong.

  2. June, although I’ve known for quite a few years I found this post marvellously revealing. Now I understand how you are the person you are. Nurture versus nature – the thought has always intrigued me. I loved the photo of your wall and the description: “a bit like a mouse’s nest – a mess of fluff and feathers, paper, pens, post-its.” Better not come and view mine, it looks like the headmistress’s office – N-ext. A wonderful lyrical post and of course I remember the Shipping Forecast. God, we’re old – but we don’t care. Right ?!

  3. Lovely, nostalgic post, June. I too loved Enid Blyton books. I still have a few of them on my bookshelf somewhere. You’ve painted such a descriptive picture of you, your grandad and your childhood. Precious memories! 🙂 xx

    • Thank you, Jan! Fancy you still having some Enid Blyton books – mine are long gone.
      She really was part of our childhood, wasn’t she. I never did work out though, how she managed to make those stories so appealing!

  4. The shipping forecast, like a mantra or poem…
    I was a cuckoo in the family nest – reading Enid Blyton, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Arthur Ransome et al with a torch under the bedclothes while everyone else was watching TV downstairs. Happy days 🙂
    That pinboard of yours looks fascinating, June!
    By the way, I love the very glam photo of the four of you x

  5. Pure nostalgia, June, as Jan says. The exotic sounding names of the Shipping Forecast in measured tones, pure poetry – even though to a child it never made sense. Still enjoy listening to radio. I think stimulates the imagination far more than TV because you have to make up your own pictures.

    • You’re probably right, Mags! There was far less distraction and you had to concentrate more. (Am sounding more and more like an old fogey!) Still love the sound of the shipping forecast and still have no idea where most of those places are.

  6. Lovely nostalgic blog, June. I think the Shipping Forecast must be embodied in every child growing up in the 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s. Even now if I wake up too early and switch on Radio 4, listening to it gives me a warm feeling of security.

    • Thank you, Margaret.
      Gosh, you must wake up very early to hear that forecast. Isn’t it at 5.a.m.? May even be earlier. Makes you appreciate sailors, doesn’t it.

  7. Gosh I’d forgotten about those shippng forecasts, I was brought up in the Midlands and we were miles from the sea but still listened to them. Thanks for the nostalgia trip June and I enjoyed your novel so much, when is the next one coming out?

    • It’s interesting then, Linda, that you write about seafarers, particularly your 12 Titanic Tales!
      My new 20’s novel should be out in the autumn this year.

  8. I wish I still had all my Enid Blyton books! But being the eldest of three girls… sigh. I love the nostalgia in this; it was a soothing blog post to read with my mid-morning cup of tea!

    PS If I had a ‘mouse’s nest’ like yours I would probably end up organising all the coloured post-its into groups or something…… 😉

  9. What gorgeously illustrated memories! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thanks, Joanna – am glad you found it soothing!
    I’d be very grateful if you’d come and organize my post-its! I fear it’d be too much of a challenge for anyone. Lizzie Lamb was overcome with shock on her first viewing.

  11. Still getting over the shock if the truth be told.

  12. Hi June, what a lovely post! So many of your memories are very similar to mine. Like you I’m an only child and lived “in my head” most of the time. Your post brought my own thoughts flooding back. Wishing you loads of success with your fabulous and amusing novel.

  13. Ah, thank you, Liz. As writers, I suppose we’re still living in our heads a lot of the time! Thanks for your good wishes, and congrats on The Bunny Run, in Woman’s Weekly, April 2nd, (love Woman’s Weekly – another nostalgia trip, used to be my Mum’s fave magazine.)

  14. The shipping forecast has inspired more than a few poems.
    I enjoyed reading your memories, June. I was a cuckoo in the family nest – reading Enid Blyton, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Arthur Ransome and, later, Georgette Heyer, with a torch under the bedclothes while everyone else was watching TV downstairs. Happy days 🙂
    That pinboard of yours looks fascinating, June!
    By the way, I love the very glam photo of the four of you.

  15. Morning, June. Thinking of adding the parrot to my nenxt blog post but he might steal the show !!

  16. adrienneauthor

    Lovely ‘Ahh Bisto moment’ reading your blog June…I remember thinking the Shipping Forecast was a secret language to warn ordinary sailors where pirates might be lurking and ‘becoming cyclonic’ sounded dead exciting! Just shows what an accomplished historical novelist you are June, to conjure up so much in so few words…and everyone should have had a grand-dad, and a wireless!

    • Just shows what a wonderful writer’s imagination you’ve had from an early age, Ade! Pirates, and I was still locked into Enid Blyton. My grandad had been a sailor, though. P’raps that’s why we listened to the shipping forecast.

    • Just shows, Ade – you must have had that wonderful writer’s imagination from an early age! Pirates, and I was still locked into Enid Blyton. My grandad was a sailor, though. P’raps that’s why we listened to the shipping forecast.

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