From my earliest days I, together with big sisters, Rosemarie and Christine, had a love of books and were taught, by parents and teachers alike, to treasure them as friends. Books are friends with whom we share quiet moments, we were told; friends that bring laughter, tears, adventure; friends to escape with; friends that educate young minds. This last, from the kind-hearted nuns at the convent school we attended, was re-enforced with a strict code of practice regards the physical care of our very valuable bookshelf ‘friends’. And of course as we all know, school books, particularly text books, never did come cheap.
Those last evenings of holiday freedom, before the beginning of each new school year, saw the three of us gathered around the kitchen table. A pristine pile of exercise books, their enticingly blank, virginal pages torture to any young aspiring artist like me, were divided into three piles, while text books, smelling deliciously of fresh printers ink, were stacked in height according to our ages and ability. Sheets of brown paper were rolled out and with sticky tape, scissors, pens and pencils at the ready, we began measuring, cutting, sticking and labelling our precious school ‘companions’ ready for our teacher’s approval and the term ahead.
However our book covering efforts did not stop there. We became so enthusiastic with this task that every new and second hand book we received, for birthdays and Christmas and sometimes special occasions in between, would be treated to the same method of protection.
Big sister Rosemarie’s cherished Complete Works of Shakespeare, and her books on theatre, plays and novels, were covered in the same stout brown paper as her school books. Middle sister Christine’s treasured ballet books, which she called her ballet ‘bibles’, historical romances and Rupert Bear Annuals, were lovingly wrapped in pink and red rose patterned gift wrap. I preferred to see the cover pictures of my nature, pet and pony books, adventure stories, Disney and Bobby Bear annuals, and so clear coloured cellophane was my covering of choice.
The saying goes that a lady should never reveal her true age but, not to let the cat out of the bag regarding mine, I will say it is over sixty years since those early book covering days and am pleased to tell you that a few precious volumes remain on our shelves today. Some of my sisters’ books are still covered in their brown and rose patterned paper and when the wrappers are gently peeled back, the outside covers are in surprisingly good condition, though I can’t say the same for the well-thumbed, dog-eared pages within! Sadly, my choice of cellophane didn’t last. The wrappers became brittle and eventually fell off, but some of my books, my ‘friends’, though now naked (ooh!) and rather tatty, did survive our numerous house moves, and still give pleasure when I take them down for an occasional, nostalgic thumb through.
And now a short Blog from Marmite
Inspiration for the character of Marmie Moggyinsky, Director of the Pusska Moggyinsky Ballet Company.
I went to the vet last week for my annual MOT as my people call it. After much peering down my throat, pulling back my lips, prodding my tummy and other most unpleasant habits with a thermometer, that these medical furless folk like to impose upon our feline dignities, I was subjected to a sudden sly prick with a needle in the scruff of my neck. It didn’t hurt but I gave a big ‘Yowl!’ just to prove the point that I was not at all happy with these arrangements.
On being forcibly squeezed back into my pet carrier and the door firmly locked, the vet announced that I wasn’t doing too badly considering my age, though my energy levels were a bit low. Well, I’m seventeen now so what does he expect? Cartwheels round the ceiling?