Wednesday, 8 February 2017

You never forget your first love - Karen Bush

My first love was - of course - the boy next door. We bonded after sharing measles and time off school convalescing: we pledged eternal love and to marry each other when we were grown ups. It didn't last - we were only five and a year later circumstances intervened to separate us, but I still remember the sharp pain of leaving without being able to say goodbye.
Timmy was not my only first love; there was another which appeared on the scene at roughly the same time. Before you accuse me of being fickle, I should point out that the other object of my affection was a book.
This very book, in fact: The Wonders of Life on Earth.


It was a zillion times better than anything they tried to fob us off with at school - the pictures were better, for starters.


What's not to love about prehistoric beasts?
I remember sitting on my Dad's lap as he taught me how to read some of the simpler words, and explained what was happening in the pictures as we looked at them together. The pictures were, of course, a big part of the attraction for my five year old self: it was stuffed with the most fabulous colour illustrations and photographs, including gatefolds showing dinosaurs, which fascinated me.
It wasn't long before I was browsing through the book on my own during the day and then asking Dad to read bits to me in the evening. It didn't matter that most of it was over my head: I just loved the book for itself, and understanding isn't really a required feature of unconditional love.
Of course, it could be that Dad
was simply trying to toughen me up
in preparation for Life ...
Incredibly, I still have that very same book fifty-odd years later. I have no idea how I have managed to hang onto it after all the house moves, when so many other equally loved books disappeared.

And I still love it, and still experience that same little frisson when I take it off the shelf and turn the pages. Because first loves have a special magic, and never really lose their hold over you.
So what was your first love?
Love is ... swallowing your offspring's
head ... oh, alright, letting it take your lunch
off you ...












Happy Valentine's Day ...




















9 comments:

Wendy Jones said...

Like you, I think my first love was reading. Oh, and Neil, from the downstairs flat. Our love was doomed when he moved to Australia

Chris Longmuir said...

I'm in agreement. I never had a book out of my hand. But then, there was Jimmy, who was also 5, but he loved the blonde girl who lived in the next building so my love was doomed. I have no idea what happened to him, although I'm still friends with the blonde girl.

Susan Price said...

Ooh, we had that very book, Karen and still do, somewhere. It was an 'on the landing present' - that is, it was meant to be shared between all three of us, and was. We had a lot of animal books, dinosaur books, beetle books etc - but Wonders of Life on Earth was something special.
It was really all about the Theory of Evolution, wasn't it? And it was an American book, published by Life magazine. I wonder if anything like it would be published now?

Bill Kirton said...

I wish I could name my first book love. I still remember that it was about a small dragon and the total absorption I felt when I read and reread it. It was another reality into which I stepped every time. But it got lost somewhere and I can't remember anything about it now - title, writer, story - nothing except how magical the experience was.

madwippitt said...

Might it have been Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning, Bill? (Now the guessing games begin ... :-) )

Bill Kirton said...

I wish, Karen. If Wikipedia's right, that was 1st published in 1957, by which time I was almost not a teenager any more. (Sob)

madwippitt said...

Ah .... LOL ... actually I've just ordered up a copy of Green Smoke to re-read it :-) How about Kenneth Grahame's The Reluctant Dragon?

Lynne Garner said...

I can't recall my first true 'love' but my first crush involved either Frank Hardy or Joe Hardy from the Hardy Boys mystery TV series. Obviously watching them on TV meant I had to read the books. Thankfully they'd been revamped since their first publication date of 1927 and many of the things that'd make us cringe even back then were revised.

Umberto Tosi said...

I had my first secret love relationship with a set of now-collectible 20-volume Grolier's Encylopedia in my grandmother's study. It was far more than a book of facts. The volumes were filled with poetry, short stories, fascinating essays and gorgeous rotogravure images of art, history, biography and scientific discovery on its sensuously glossy, heavy-stock pages. I think my grandmother's edition dated from the late 1920's probably purchased for the youngest of her four children, my uncle Ernesto, who was by then a pilot in the US Air Corps serving in North Africa during WWII.As the only child in her rambling Boston home, I could pull out any volume of the set and pore over its content for hours while she taught her vocal students in the conservatory. As often happens with first loves, we lost contact when my parents moved us away to California. The set would be worth a pretty penny now. I could probably get one on eBay, but it wouldn't be the same.