Lit: My literary life timeline 1993-2013

Everyone has their own list of literature they’ve read that stayed with them for a multitude of different reasons. I’ve rooted around my memories and compiled my own. I limited myself to a maximum  of one per year so this is by no means exhaustive!

1993 (5yo): Biff, Chip & Kipper series- The Apple- Roderick Hunt is the first book I remember reading out loud whilst first learning as a child.

1994 (6yo): George’s Marvellous Medicine- Roald Dahl I was so proud of myself for pronouncing and understanding the humungerous words. ‘Gobblefunk’ (the language Dahl invented) fascinated me, though not so much my mother when I began using it colloquially.

1995 (7yo): The Twits- Roald Dahl after spending one entire Sunday morning typing out almost half of this story word-for-word on our nice new 3gb desktop computer, my parents decided to explain the term ‘plagarism’ to me. They had very much enjoyed the several hours of peace my little project had allowed them but in fact this was already someone elses work.

1996 (8yo): Watership Down- Richard Adams the first book i brought to school for ‘silent reading hour’. I wonder if that’s still a weekly classroom activity.

1997 (9yo): Bill’s New Frock – Anne Finne alarmingly, on finishing this story about a boy who wakes up one day to find everyone thinks he is a girl, our teacher asked the class if anyone felt they would prefer to have been born the opposite gender. My tomboy friend immediately raised her hand, only to have that moment never be forgotten and affect the rest of her school life.

1998 (10 yo): Goosebumps- Piano Lessons Can Be Murder- R.L. Stine thus began my first book collection.

1999 (11yo): Beowulf- Robert Nye My own creative writing description of a fight between Beowulf and Grendel came top of the class. Also the moment I discovered I’d been prounouncing ‘anxiety’ incorrectly!

2000 (12yo): To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee Material for my first English essay, and my first real introduction to the meaning of racism.

2002 (14yo): The Jogger- Roger McGough Being only familiar with his works for children I was horrified after reading this poem. Even now I can’t find the words to fully convey my emotional response to it.

2004 (15yo): An Inspector Calls- J.B.Priestley I still love this play now. An oral assessment of it made up 20% of my final A grade English GCSE. It also inspired the original idea behind my first novel (currently a WIP).

2005 (17yo): IT- Stephen King my longest read until that point and, I expect, a permanent installation in my top ten favourite books.

2006 (still 17yo): Song Of Susannah- The Dark Tower Series-Stephen King I cried. 

2007 (18yo): Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows standing in line at the midnight release, trying to block out the various shouts of “Harry dies” and “They all die” or “Nobody dies”, from people leaving the store with their books held open at the final page.

2011 (23yrs): Dracula- Bram Stoker my first ebook. Downloaded onto the kindle paper view from the free -book section.

2013 (25yrs): Mad About The Boy – Bridget Jones Diaries-Helen Fielding exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. Including my own hilarious memory made whilst reading it during a commute to London.

 

Special mentions

Because I didn’t want to expand but I just can’t help myself:

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Intensity – Dean Koontz

Irene/Alex/Camille – Pierre Lemaitre

The Wind In The Willows- Kenneth Grahame

 

Anyone who would like to ping back and write their own literary timeline please do. I’d be very interested to see any similarities, especially in school syllabus materials.

Thank you for reading. Feedback always welcomed.

Mind Mess: Learning to let someone else care for you.

 

 

 

 

 

My whole life I’ve cared for other people. I’m not saying that’s uncommon, millions of others do the same every day, all of us for different reasons but all with the same result. Losing yourself.

At the age of seven I was grilling frozen pizzas to feed my younger brother lunch. I quite easily could’ve nagged my father into waking up and getting us something to eat. Instead I chose to provide it myself.

I’d pad bare footed out to the freezer in our shed, haul myself up the side of the chest freezer so I could reach the bottom and grab pizzas or potato waffles. I taught myself how to cook them by reading the instructions on the back of the boxes and decided grilling was less scary than the oven. I’d be less likely to burn myself with the grill.

My brother has a small brain defect and so I’ve been caring for him in various amounts til this day. Whether it’s explaining adult responsibilities to him over a monthly phone call now or trying to cook him lunch every Saturday in 1995.

At sixteen I incorporated myself into a new family as their sons live-in girlfriend; The father was always away with the Royal Marines and mostly lived on camp, the mother worked 72 hours a week because that was all she cared about, the much older brother was a recluse living at his computer and the younger sister was never home. As a result, there was never anything to eat, the house was a constant mess, the dog was never walked and my boyfriend and his sister never attended school.

I could walk away from that easily. But instead I made them go to school, cooked dinner several times a week (with food I paid for with part-time wages) and helped with the laundry. I even got between the parents when I woke up over hearing a particularly vicious argument and stayed til they were calm and wouldn’t wake their own kids. The enfollowing thirteen year relationship wasn’t any different.

Now, at twenty-eight years old, I have taken in my seventh lodger.

Only the fourth out of the seven I’ve charged any rent.

The first I took in so he had somewhere to live in his home town so he could find a job and save enough money to start out. The second I took in when his mother suddenly moved away. The third was that someone’s annoying girlfriend, who I let stay for months even after they’d broken up. The fourth had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and needed somewhere to live cheap and save til it was born. The fifth and sixth needed to save a deposit on their own place and escape the one they were living in. The seventh is partly for me to have some company and extra income, and partly for her to learn how to live almost independently.

The eighth is the one that breaks the chain I’ve been living in. The eighth person I choose to live with is purely for my own happiness. ‘My own happiness’ being a phrase that potrays selfishness.

Love, real all-consuming, nerve tingling love, for me, is the process of someone teaching you how to be happy. Continuously happy, with yourself, your life and your choices.

Whether you ever find complete contentment is irrelevant. It’s the feeling of making progress towards it together, the tiny realisations along the way that make your own outlook on life a little brighter.

 

Number eight teaches me how to be happy in all the ways. The only negativity I encounter comes from my own mind distorting my happiness into a feeling of selfishness. I haven’t learned how to drown that voice out for myself yet, but Jacob quiets it for me.

It’s nice to be the one taken care of.

Mind Mess: What is common/general knowledge?

I found myself lacking in a few areas this month, which prompted me to try and confirm what material comes under the vast umbrella of the common knowledge category.

For example; I recently passed my driving test, at no point during any of my lessons did I learn how to fill my petrol tank. It isn’t a requirement for an instructor to teach you this neccessity, and to be honest I didn’t even think to ask.

Fast-forward two weeks. I’ve purchased a car, I’m at the petrol station and I realise- I’ve never done this before. I have a basic understanding, I’ve seen people use petrol pumps enough times. But, I’ve also seen and heard many people joking about watching others struggle to ‘get their own petrol cap off’ or having to ‘help this daft woman fill her own car’. (I did spend a summer working in a petrol station. You might be suprised by the amount of times we had to help push a diesel car out of the forecourt because it’s owner had filled the tank with petrol mistakenly.)

You are just sort of expected to know how to perform this task, but why?

Heres another; My boiler has broken. The plumber is asking me if I have a combi boiler, as if it’s a simple question. I have no idea? Now I feel silly. I own my house, surely I should know what type of boiler I have? When he arrives the plumber is surprised to find I have a combi-boiler and I have my immersion heater switched on. Unbeknownst to me I have been using gas to heat water at the moment it is required using the combi, as well as using gas to maintain an entire separate tank of hot water throughout set periods of the day. Thats an expensive mistake. I only need to switch the immersion on if my combi-boiler isn’t working. How else would I know that? It’s not like buying a house came with a welcome pack of ‘how things work’!

I’ve known people who weren’t aware that goosebumps can occur because your body is cold, or whether you can safely defrost bacon in a microwave, even how to write a letter.

So I ask, what is common knowledge? Who decides what fits under the proverbial umbrella? And why does anyone find it acceptable to poke fun at something another person has not yet learned.