I’ve asked some of my friends and favourite bloggers to write about their favourite books from childhood. There’ll hopefully be a few posts like this – if I can convince other people to take up the challenge. If you’d like to join in, email me.
Today Dr Meg Barker, author and professional clever person, talks about character identification, relationships and getting the metaphorical jar off your head.
Trigger warning: discussion of relationship conflict and brief mention of abusive situations.
Tigger warning: not mentioned at all, sorry Tigger.
Some of my favourite stories from childhood were the Winnie-the-Pooh collections by A. A. Milne. Particularly I remember being read these tales by my Gran when she visited. They were an important part of our relationship.
I like the fact that different family relationships are linked, in my memory, to different stories. The stories both defined the storyteller, for me, and passed on something that shapes who I am today. My other Gran made up her own stories (rather like A. A. Milne did), whilst I associate my Mum with Beatrix Potter and my Dad with Sherlock Holmes. Both of these latter figures continued to resonate through my later life, Beatrix Potter through the wonderful Bryan Talbot graphic novel about survival, The Tale of One Bad Rat, and Sherlock Holmes as the characters of Holmes and Watson provided models, for me, of what it was possible to become, and what was important in a relationship. I love seeing the ways in which these characters are reinterpreted through each new movie, story, or TV programme, all of which capture something of them however different they are. Winnie-the-Pooh, however, only seems to work for me in the original.
As a child I think I enjoyed Winnie-the-Pooh particularly because in those stories a solitary kid was able to have an exciting life and lots of great relationships. Whist the stories of Enid Blyton, for example, left me feeling lonely and different for not having a wonderful gang of friends to go off on adventures with, Christopher Robin (in the books at least) was able to manage it for himself with his toys and his imagination. Perhaps for that reason they are a good set of stories for any kid who doesn’t fit.
The stories haven’t stopped being useful to me as I’ve grown older. Rather they’ve stayed alongside me, offering me something new at each stage. With several partners the tales have been a comforting mutual place to return when life becomes scary. There can hardly be a safer place for me than curled up under a duvet with a soothing voice telling about the hundred acre wood, haycorns, and expotitions. Read the rest of this entry