Reading 2

I wish I still had a book called ‘King of the Golden River’

I read anything and everything. I got more punishment for reading than for anything else. It meant washing dishes, filling the coal bucket and cleaning shoes.

When I was about nine, I was sent to collect a parcel of groceries from the Meadow Dairy on Whitley Road. In those days groceries were wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. I was walking down the road with a comic resting on the parcel, unaware of a tram stop post, until the jam, sugar and margarine etc. were all over the pavement. I didn’t want to go home, but wasn’t sent to my room as a punishment as there were books in my bedroom.

Black and white comics cost 1d, coloured ones 2d. The good girl in the story always had fair wavy hair and the bad girl black and straight. She also often had spectacles. Comics and school storybooks were swapped at school.

One Christmas morning I had to show surprise at what Santa Claus had brought me. In truth, I had read the book during the night under the bedclothes until my torch batteries had worn out.

My serious reading at school was Louisa M. Alcott’s ‘Little Women’, Charles Kingsley’s ‘Water Babies’ and Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. During history lessons, I tried to have a small book in front of the large history book. I considered history a waste of good reading time. I enjoyed books telling of other countries such as ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ and ‘Freckles’ or any books telling of how people lived and their countries, but not just rivers and mountains. I never realised that one day I would have the opportunity to visit some of these countries.

Apart from the children’s books which are now classics, there were some beautiful books published. At that time they were very expensive perhaps 12/- 6d upwards. I wish I still had one of these called ‘King of the Golden River’. They were usually bound in dark green cloth with gold titles plus beautiful coloured plates. I still have ‘Robin Hood’ given to my husband when he was a child. Perhaps they may still be found at church fairs or in charity shops.

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