Thursday, 21 February 2013

O lovely Pussy!

"...all of a sudden I knew what they were; I heard them in my head, they metamorphosed from black lines and white spaces into a solid, sonorous, meaningful reality.  I had done this all by myself.  No one had performed the magic for me.  I and the shapes were alone together, revealing ourselves in a silently respectful dialogue.  Since I could turn bare lines into living reality, I was all-powerful.  I could read."
Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading (1996:p6)

As Standard pointed out yesterday, the experience of learning to read, or discovering books, creates powerful memories.  As I pointed out last week, mothers are never more annoying than when they are right.  It is therefore with some disgruntlement that I point once more to the heroic endeavours of my mum. 

For me books will always be associated with sound.  My mum read stories to me in bed every night.  Sometimes they came from books but on many nights she would make a story up for me on the spot.  I remember clearly the first time I corrected her when she decided to ad lib and I knew she wasn't reading the right words.  The confidence I gained from reading along was invaluable.

The sound of my mum's voice. Being coddled beneath the blankets.  The sense that I was being taken on an adventure while being completely safe.  These elements explain my lifelong love affair with the spoken word. 

So much entertainment relies on the visual realm now.  There are very few activities which rely solely on listening.  When I was young my Uncle Gerrard would come to visit occasionally.  When he was staying with us he would insist that we didn't watch television.  Instead he would listen to the radio and we could join him if we were quiet.  Of course we couldn't understand this rule and resented his visits.  Why would you use only your ears when you could use your eyes too?  But there's a part of your mind that snoozes when it's spoon-fed images isn't there?  It's your imagination.  And isn't that something we should be exercising to let it know we care?

Having stories told to me continues to be, paradoxically, both a relaxing and exciting activity.  I consider myself to be incredibly lucky in that I have a loving partner who enjoys reading stories to me at bedtime occasionally.  On the days that he isn't there to read me to sleep I often enjoy listening to an audio book.  Librivox is a terrific resource for free recordings if you're a cheap-skate like me.  Alternatively, if it's poetry you crave, The Poetry Foundation has many recordings of poets reading their work.  Be careful what you listen to last thing at night, however.  Edward Lear is terrific but do you want to be stuck in a pea-green boat with a bird and a feline in your dreams?  Yann Martel tried that and look where it got him.


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4 comments:

Lisa McFleeca said...

A man who'll read you to sleep. Does he have a brother? :-)

Bedtime stories are the time you can be closest with your children. I can't encourage anyone enough to get on that one. It's a sending off to the land of Nod with all of the tools to forge better dreams.

Great post Vicky. Got me thinking :-)

L x

Ashley R Lister said...

Yan Martel? The LIST of Pi? I wanted Richard Parker to win.

Great post - and, as I mentioned when we last saw one another, I shall see if I have any old audio books floating around.

Ash

Standard said...

Life of Pi!!!! I left Life of Pi off my perfect books list for Cerridwen!!!

Vicky I love the sound of your Grandad, mine just insisted on sticking on the cricket (never understood that sport)

In terms of switching off the TV, on Tuesday me and Sarah sold ours, along with all our gaming consoles. It's so nice not having Plastic America forcing its way into my consciousness every day. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to do the same. Hopefully I'll start filling the time with writing now :)

On audiobooks - I nealy blogged on how much I hate them. I never realised how much everyone has their own internal narrative voice until I listened to an audiobook - it spoiled EVERYTHING!!!!!

vicky ellis said...

Lisa, reading to Raven is one of my warmest memories. It's propaganda, in a good way.

Ash, you are my dealer and books are my drugs :)

Standard, a well read audiobook is a wonderful thing. I'd recommend using them for books you haven't already read.