A Literate Childhood

A Literate Childhood

It’s a bit of a cliché to say that one of my greatest childhood influences was my English teacher Mrs Yates, but with seven years of her encouragement to appreciate the classics of Hardy, Austen and the Brontë sisters amongst others and her patience in giving critical appraisal to my attempts at poetry and prose, I found myself writing copiously from my early teens.

I also grew up in a family where hearing my father quote Shakespeare was an everyday occurrence. It may have been a disappointment to him that my sister and I were more likely to quote nonsense poems back, even if some of them were written by the literary genius of Lewis Carol in Through the Looking Glass, or even Spike Milligan.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

                On one occasion I recall when my sister and I were painting the walls of the bell tower in St Michael’s Church St Albans a shade of lilac to match the grey and purple benches, we nearly sent our tower captain up the walls himself having a nonsense poem challenge to keep ourselves amused. (I wonder what colour the walls are  now?)

 Ps When searching through personal memorabilia for a travel log book yesterday I came across a note from Mrs Yates referring to one of my poems which I had shared with her at the age of 17yrs! Thinking of her reminded me of the many amusing stories she shared with us, like the time she returned from the January sales having bought a new coat and a dress. When asked by her husband why she had bought both when she only went out looking for a coat, Mrs Yates replied,

“I thought you’d be pleased.  After all I only spent the money I saved in buying the coat in the sales on the new dress!”

A form of logic I am sure most women will understand.


Filed under Writing

2 responses to “A Literate Childhood

  1. Teachers are so important in helping us grow to be the people we desire.
    My year 8 English teacher once said to me that ‘ I had a sevre case of verbal diarrhea’ because i always talked to much in class. My most treasured teacher was someone i had in year 9 and 10, and we connected so much that on the last day, i wrote him a letter of thanks for his kindess, that as he passed me in all the hallway, all he could do was squeeze my hand and give me a look of gratitude. Teachers are so important, i don’t think they are valued half as much as what they should be. I will never forget those two teachers!

  2. I remember vividly being told by my headteacher that my writing was so small that I must have something to hide. It is a frightening thought as a teacher that these comments are never forgotten, nevertheless good memories of teachers are treasured forever.

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