8 July 2015

Books & Broomsticks

I've spent the last few weeks having a long-overdue room tidy. As with most renovations, it has seen out with the old and in with the new. Nonetheless, it has also sent me on some lovely little nostalgia trips; a whole forgotten Wonderland, from bags and books, to board games and bones (prehistoric fossils, to be precise, before I start to sound like a Desperate Housewife.)

Despite what my Disney heroine advocates, I struggle with letting go. How can I know now if I will want to play Guess Who? 10 years from now? What if I have a sudden longing to see Frederic and his freckled face again? I admit this is probably quite low on the list of sentimental items, but I do fear regret. 

This whole experience has made me rather wistful, so prompted the idea for this post series! Each week will see My Memory Box adopt a particular theme, from dinosaurs to epic poetry (composed by 9-year-old me). The first instalment is...

Beautiful Books

Way back when I did a post on the power of reading; namely a black-hair bespectacled guy you might have heard of. Through all of my room tidying, I rediscovered some childhood classics I was worried had been thrown away by mistake.

Among the books I feared lost were my Roald Dahls, specifically by two favourites Matilda and the BFG. I found them in our "everything but the kitchen sink" cupboard, along with the My Naughty Little Sister series. Now I just need to track down Sheltie, The Worst Witch and The Puppy Patrol. I remember dressing up as Maud Moonshine for halloween, while the death of Sam the Border Collie floored me almost as much as Dobby. I don't say this lightly!

Nonetheless, through all the animal and magic hype Dahl still emerged as the no.2 author of my childhood; for a girl firmly of the HP generation, this is like coming second to Usain Bolt. Run with it.

 Matilda by Roald Dahl

One Dahl character stood out above all others, even Charlie Bucket and my namesake Sophie… Matilda. Before Molly Weasley, there was Miss Honey, and before Hermione, there was Matilda. She made me see that it's okay to bury your head in a book… and that superglue really is super sticky. We will never forget how to spell difficulty, though I recall less luck with the word bycycle - evidently the struggle is still real.

Despite my enduring love for the film, the book does contain those extra moments of magic that make the story come to life. While the movie shows the superglue hat moment, Dahl's original contains a whole host of ingenious tricks, the talking parrot being a particular favourite of mine - for a time I was convinced I could train my guinea pig to talk. I never quite managed to pull this off...

credit: RoaldDahl.com

If the world has any justice, every person should encounter a Miss Honey in their life. I had a couple of teachers who came close, but I appreciate it is a tough act to live up to. Almost as much as Miss Trunchbull is in the evil stakes, although again one particular teacher had it in her…  I suppose the modern day equivalent might be Dance Mom's Abby Lee Miller.

Matilda did make me feel very thankful for my parents. Not only did they let me read books; after finding out we would be in Greece, when the Order of the Phoenix was published, they arranged to have two copies FedExed out to us. Holiday can't halt Harry Potter, and FedEx is the muggle version of Accio.

From afternoon tea and flowers, to iron bed frames and dolls. It's Sophie in a scene! 
(credit: goodmorninglovely.net)

For all my affirmations that "the book is better", I adore the 90s film version of Matilda - let's be honest, we've all danced to Little Bitty Pretty One in our bedroom/felt slightly inadequate that a 5 year old can make such good pancakes. The film stars Mara Wilson, who,  along with Emma Watson, she's also one of the few child actresses who hasn't gone off the rails. 

Clearly books and flying objects keep you grounded. My top two books really did have a lot in common… Sadly, for mere mortals like me, the ability to levitate quills, broomsticks, cheerios and cake is still a work in progress. Perhaps I should take a hint from the talking guinea-pig disappointment.

Matilda's love for books, coupled with her determination and hopefulness is hard to rival. I'd choose her over Elizabeth Bennett or Lyra Belacqua any day of the week. Of course, I can't forget the significant style imprint Matilda left on mini me… the headband. Prior to the inspiration of Blair "hairband" Waldorf, Matilda's red ribbon saw headpieces becomes a bit of a signature for me. Preppy and proud. 

Bookmarked Memories

Growing up, you also encounter those 'special books'. For me, these comprised of the signed and the sentimental. The Bath Literary Festival is a goldmine for signed copies; I've secured everything from historian Alison Weir to Ms Rowling herself… yup! One signed copy of The Causal Vacancy, to join my sister's signed copy of The Goblet of Fire!

Ironically (and somewhat tragically), the signing occurred just months before the series cast its magic spell over me. From what my dad and sister tell me, years later, all I really cared about was the pick 'n mix at the halfway point… in my defence, I was 5, tired there were a lot of stairs!

The signed Khaled Hosseini books were a gift from Dad for my A Levels - I studied The Kite Runner in Year 12

The sentimental = inherited books - the above copy of Mandy was given to me by mum, and the cover alone puts it pride of place in any #shelfie. This also holds true of some books I received at prize-givings. In Junior school your prize came in the form of a beautiful hardback, which in year 3 was a copy of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Having been diagnosed with diabetes at the end of year 2, almost exactly a year earlier, this book symbolised a real personal triumph for me. My family were so excited too;  I vividly remember my poor mum, who had slipped a disc in her back the previous month, being practically carried into the hall so she could watch!

In Senior School you received a slightly less exciting book token. So many people would groan when they opened the envelope to find these, the irony of which was not lost of me. One person once asked me "what am I supposed to do with this?", so I responded "buy Vogue". I never found out if they tried to or not, although that would have been an entertaining conversation to witness!

That is probably enough box-digging for today, so I'll send you on your way… 
*If you missed the Matilda reference here, watch the link - or better the whole movie*


Did you ever have a teacher like Miss Trunchbull

What was you go-to book series as a child? 
(Besides Harry Potter!)

Do you keep some form of Treasure Box? 

Did you ever play Guess Who?

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