Books from my childhood

Before I could read I was read to, and some of my earliest presents were books, including each year a Rupert Bear annual! Rupert was a bear boy who lived in Nutwood with his pals Bill Badger, Alfie Pug and Pong-Ping and others. I read and reread those books when I was able, but when I was small my parents read them too me, and also read the verses rather than the narrative… maybe that was why I was so good at rattling off poems for homework! I used to write poems for my friends when they were set because it was just easy… I had to make sure I wrote them as I thought different people would write!

Anyway, back to reading… on Christmas morning I always hoped I might get a book or two… and usually I was lucky and I built up a marvellous collection. However, I sadly lost all my childhood books apart from half a dozen or so, including those below; I had moved to Manchester and then had a job somewhere else and a friend offered to look after my things for me…  sadly I never got my books back…

Oh well never mind…

What I do wish is that I could remember the titles of some of my lost books; there was a book with two stories in it. The first story was about some children who were staying with an elderly relative and found an abandoned caravan and very old car at the bottom of the overgrown garden. The car’s registration was ‘YAK1’. One morning they went down the garden and the car had become an actual yak, and the children got in the caravan and set off on a wonderful adventure as children used to.

The second story in the book was about the same children (I think) who were staying with relatives by the seaside; there was  a sweetie shop and the old woman who ran it was terrifying to look at… in fact I still remember the black and white illustration very uneasily. She had sweets in a jar called ‘waifs and strays’ which I guess was a mixture of left over sweets from other jars all muddled up. There were also some little model rowing boats, or Viking ships with oars sticking out. Somehow or other, at night the woman changed into a horrific octopus, and the little boats became alive and ran around on the oars like little legs… it was so creepy, every time I read it I was quite scared!

Another story was about a girl who was staying with family by the sea and nearby was a lighthouse,and the lighthouse keeper was called Ben. The illustration of him showed a nice looking man with a round handsome face and curly blonde hair and a cap. He was very kind to the little girl and treated her as a grownup as all children long to be treated (in the most innocent way of course) The story was all about smugglers, and near the end, I was really upset to find that Ben was one of the smugglers, he was a baddie! Then, to make matters worse, he died!

This was the first time I came across a character having two sides to him, and the first time as a reader I was deceived into liking someone who was not the hero. It was an important lesson… and I think had quite a deep impact on me as a writer even aged eight or however old I was.

I would love to know what these two books were, and who wrote them… I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out and eb able to read the adventure of YAK1 and the waifs and strays, let alone grieve over Ben!


  1. poetmcgonagall

    I know what you mean about losing books. When I moved to Scotland I left behind a library of thousands of books. Many were sold, but the ones I couldn’t bear to part with are languishing in someone’s basement. I still miss them.


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