Today, WordPress’ ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ seems to want me to attach some kind of cosmic significance to toys:
“Toy story. What was your favourite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now and your favourite childhood toy?”
My childhood wasn’t deprived in any way, and I always had plenty of toys. I remember in particular lots of wooden building blocks. I would spend hours building elaborate forts with these and then, with the bits that were left over, dive-bomb them – complete with Stuka sound effects – until they were reduced to whatever you call the wooden equivalent of rubble.
At some point I was also given the beginner’s (and I mean the real beginner’s) Meccano set. That’s as far as I ever got with that particular product line, so you can see that self-assembly has never been my forte.
Read what you will into that little bit of disclosure. Personally, I find it slightly worrying that I was a lot better at taking things apart than putting them together.
So no change there.
It’s pretty clear to me, though, that reading has resonated through the rest of my life far more than any toy.
I was able to read from quite an early age. There’s a family joke that my first words – spoken from the pram – were a polite request, preceded by a discreet cough, to my mother to turn over the page of the newspaper for me. That’s pushing it a bit, but I don’t remember not being able to read, and I certainly could well before I started school at age 5.
Before my horizons expanded – until The Beatles came along and girls maybe weren’t such a bad idea after all – I would read pretty much whatever I could lay my hands on: old encyclopaedias, fairy tales, comics. I have a distinct recollection of – at no older than nine – sitting on the floor in front of the bookshelf on a Sunday afternoon, pulling out a big old hard-back edition of ‘David Copperfield’, with pale blue pages covered in relentless small type, and wondering why Mr Murdstone was such a nasty piece of work.
A lot of Dickens, his predecessors and contemporaries, came after that, which perhaps explains my particular affection for the typically complex – sometimes florid – vocabulary and sentence construction of English authors of the 18th and 19th centuries.
As a writing style, it’s not that great for blogging, though, which I suppose is one more reason why this site remains our little secret.
What say you, sir?