Tuesday 14 July 2015

Childhood Daze with Maudie Smith

Maudie Smith joins us today on the blog, to talk about her Childhood Daze. 
I did spend most of my childhood days in a daze. I spent them here, in this mock Tudor Nottingham house. Looks a bit of a mansion doesn't it? And I suppose it was in a way. The whole middle section is one big hall - it was very cold in there, all year round, and I remember the echoes of wood pigeons cooing down the chimney. It felt dark and mysterious, especially when I was small, and I was always on the look out for ghosts, even when I was eighteen.
The house was definitely responsible for encouraging my already overactive imagination. The hall had a wide, sweeping staircase for bounding down and making dramatic entrances into the kitchen. It was bordered on three sides by a 'minstrel gallery'. I used to swan about up there in my finery (aka Great Grandma's dressing gown) imagining myself to be many a fine lady/princess/bride. Hardly surprising perhaps that my first career was in acting.

One fantasy I had was that we would install a swimming pool in the hall, a pool into which I would do prize-winning, death-defying dives from the first floor gallery. I never did persuade my dad to put in the pool - and I can't even do a proper froggy dive today - but I'm grateful for what was there instead, because the hall was lined with books. Books from my parents' childhoods - fairy tales and Just William and Brer Rabbit, books they'd chosen, books they'd been awarded as school prizes. The books seemed special and intriguing because my parents had written their names in them when they were children. Later I found interestingly faded hardbacks with no paper jackets from which to guess at what was inside; these were mostly books which had been sent to my dad when he was stationed for too many months in Burma during World War II. I would take them upstairs to the windowseat (second from the left in the photo) and while away whole afternoons discovering the mysterious worlds of H E Bates, Graham Greene, Josephine Tey, Hilda Lewis, Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham.

Although our house was undeniably large, it only had three proper bedrooms - a huge one for my parents, a large one for my brothers and a grand one for guests. I was two when we moved in and was given a tiny box room perched on the side of the house, with just enough room in it for a 2'6 bed. So I was ideally placed to imagine myself, say, as the terribly abused Sara Crewe, banished from the riches of the house below, to live in a barren little attic with Becky, the lowly scullery maid. 'A Little Princess' was a favourite story. It took me a while to find an image of the edition I had, but here it is.
I loved the cosy privacy of that little bedroom and I ended up staying in it until I left home, reading my way through Andrew Lang's Fairy Books, Mrs Pepperpot, Catherine Storr, Noel Streatfield, E Nesbit, Elizabeth Enright, Enid Blyton, a bunch of pony books, and Richard Adams, then moving smoothly on to du Maurier, Dickens, and Jane Austen.
A great deal of my brain development went on in that room I feel. Don't imagine reading was all I did back then, though. I watched a lot of telly too, lying with my feet up the wall, eating sherbet fountains and packets of Revels, lapping up black and white movies, and shows such as Land of the Giants, Star Trek, and Randall and Hopkirk Deceased. And, when they'd let me, I played in the garden with my two older brothers. We used to race each other round the house on our bikes, playing THE WACKY RACES. I was always the delectable Penelope Pitstop. I fancied I looked a lot like her.
Shows how wrong you can be! But I did say my imagination was working overtime...
Max doesn't believe in happy endings. He doesn't even like stories. So when he finds himself whisked away in a giant cake to The Land of Ever After, Max is NOT impressed. 
But the people of Ever After are in trouble, and they need Max's help. 
Will Max agree to go on a dangerous quest to save their world? And if he doesn't, how will he and his brand new brother and sister ever get home?

To find out more about Maudie Smith: 

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