Saturday, 21 January 2012

My Grandad's bookshop

My grandfather owned a bookshop in Leicester (Clarke and Satchell) between 1923 and 1963.

Because of this, I was brought up in a large rambling house, renovated from slum status (but that's another story) in which every room had a bookcase packed to the ceiling with books. 

I learned to pull myself up onto my feet, (at just over two and a half years old, but that's also another story) by hanging onto these bookcases, staring at strange words like Dostoevsky and Shakespeare. 

At the age of twelve and thirteen the muted colours of these old, hard back books drew me into wild adventures and the strange world of adult emotion. I would browse the shelves and pull out another cloth bound relic to learn about the inner worlds of Aldous Huxley or Edgar Allen Poe.

To my mind writers had the status of gods, all long dead or nearly so, certainly way beyond the reach of mere mortals.  New writers, if they existed at all, were gifted, supreme beings. They were probably born with great novelistic ideas already in place, scribbling superbly constructed sentences while sucking on their dummies. 

Although I wanted to be a writer when I was young, or a painter, my parents encouraged me to get a proper job.  It's not that they didn't want me to write, but they didn't want me to starve or suffer through a lack of income. 

To some extent, being surrounded by seriously good quality literature as a youngster ignited my passion for words and stories, but it also held me back, as I believed that to be a writer you had to be a genius to have any chance of being published and read.

The world seems more kindly disposed towards new writers these days, especially as e-publishing takes off. Maybe there’s hope for my stories to appear on bookshelves one day, or at least on tablets of plastic.

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