Tag Archives: Quentin Blake

So they took it away, and were married next day, By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

27 May

I remember going to bed at nine o clock as a child and keeping a tiny creak in the curtain opened so I could

The Owl and the Pussycat

read Matilda. Not that my mum would have minded that I was sat up reading books.

Along with pretty much every child in the country, I was enthralled by Roald Dahl books. It was an absolute pleasure to meet his biographer recently, along with the genius illustrator Quentin Blake.

Dahl fled from the ‘nice’ yet slightly dull stories of the Famous Five, and took us into a world of couples who were gruesomely nasty to each other in The Twits, and the terrifying world of The Witches, where a small child was made into a painting.

I remember the horror when reading about how the parents of the child kept the painting and could see her growing old, until she eventually disappeared. A rather terrifying concept of death for such a young mind, yet undeniably creatively genius.

I was interning at Channel 5 recently, and likened the image in my mind to the gallery, where all the different journalists are in their tiny boxes moving around before going on air.

My love of poetry started at a young age. My tutor introduced me to Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, and I recall the gentle explanation that he may have been influenced by some ‘greater force’. It was only later that I was to understand that the greater force was opium.

Also, who could forget The Owl and the Pussycat, which I still remember the words to this day. Extremely romantic, and who cares about the cross breeding; it never really did seem strange to me that an owl and a cat had fallen in love.

CHARLOTTE’S WEB

I adored my sisters dusty copy of Charlotte’s Web, regardless of the fact that I had, and still posses, a phobia of spiders. Whenever I see one I scream, “GET RID OF IT!”, and have even been known to wake my brother in the middle of the night to remove one from my room.

When I was teaching English in Austria, there was one in the classroom. I will not lie to you, it was the size of a tarantula. I tried to hide my fear, yet when all the children handed their forms at the end of the week, they all filled the ‘my worst part’ section in as ‘das spinnen’, the spider.

Yet, I recall crying when Charlotte died, an attribute to E.B. White’s writing.

The Secret Garden was another favourite. I particularly enjoyed the film, which was truly beautiful. My oldest Suzy and I were completely inseparable at school and college, and only don’t see each as often now because we live at different sides of the country. I remember our sleepovers, how often we’d watch the film and laugh at the spoilt rich master in it as he screamed round the house for attention.

I remember rewinding the film to laugh when the local boy would let out a little too much excitement over seeing a bird. Looking back now, I’m not quite sure why we found it so hilarious, we just did.

JANE EYRE

Reading Jane Eyre I had the young and superficial fear that I would end up like Jane; very plain and slightly pathetic. Especially after reading the Wide Sargasso Sea, I realise that ‘Mad Bertha’ in the attic was the project of the cruel Mr Rochester. I adored the early film adaptation. I remember at the end Mr Rochester falling down a hill because he was blind, and Jane laughing hysterically. I never did like Jane.

My mum and I visited the parsonage where the Bronte’s lived a couple of years ago. It was a grand old day, beautiful scenery and a fantastic house. A far cry from the ‘penniless Bronte’ accounts we hear.

An old woman invited us into her home to see the scene of Haworth from her hilltop house. Beautiful scene… but it was slightly uncomfortable having the old lady follow us around for the rest of the day saying inappropriate comments about people.

GOODNIGHT MR TOM

I couldn’t forget Goodnight Mr Tom, the first piece of war time literature that embarked me on my love affair with Siegfried Sassoon. Years later, I saw Sassoon’s house for sale on ‘Escape to the Country’, and have since fantasised about having enough money to live in the home that once belonged to Sassoon.

Now, I have a two year old nephew. He is just starting to look at books, and I love it when we point at different animals and shout ‘QUACK!’ or ‘MOO!’

Also, I love putting Mr Men adventures on the television. He gets bored and runs away, I sit and watch it over breakfast. From a selfish point of view I look forward to when he’s old enough to read, so I can re-embark on my journey through children’s literature.

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One World Media Awards

26 May

Two weeks ago I attended the One World Media Awards, thanks to fellow journalist Lucy Laycock who has been given funding from the organisation to make a documentary in India.

The ceremony, held at Kings Place where I saw Quentin Blake last Autumn, started with wine and canapés. We saw a lot of interesting people, including Unreported World’s Jenny Kleeman and John Pilger.

When I was 14 I won a competition on an essay where I was to write who my hero was. I wrote about John Pilger, and the prize was to shadow the editor of the Northern Echo, Peter Barron, for the day. It was a strange feeling being at the same event as him years later.

The award ceremony itself was completely inspirational. Lucy and I felt emotional hearing some of the stories; particularly the Kenyan based community radio station, who have managed to build such a successful sense of community through the power of radio. We were fortunate enough to talk to the people behind the station after the ceremony.

We were also especially pleased for Jenny Kleeman who won the Television Award: Phillipines – The City With Too Many People.

Afterwards we had a glass of wine with Jon Snow, who was very funny and interesting to talk to. I had such a fantastic night, and it was definitely worth the sore head at work the next day.