There was a tragedy on every page

When I was at junior school we’d got

a very far-seeing teacher

she had a little library and we used to borrow

those books from her bookshelf

we were supposed to write

a commentary about what we thought

Swallows and Amazons and the William books

the Katy books and Anne of Green Gables


When I was 22 and married we rented

a part-furnished cottage out in Derbyshire

it was an hour’s walk to the nearest bus-stop

but the mobile library would come

right out to all those isolated places.

I can’t remember any of the titles but I remember

this one and it was really tragic

my husband came home from work and says to me

Who’s upset you? Who’s upset you?


When they were wanting to train mature people for teaching

I’d still got a little boy, hadn’t I, the one born

later than the others and my mother went mad

You’ve got three children here, and there you are going to college!

I thought Mother, I’m nearly forty five

I decided to do this A-level in English Literature

I sort of got that thirst for knowledge again


When I went up to Richmond College I was nearly

up the wall I was so frustrated

I was getting

my mind was working on the wrong things in

a black hole. I’d be putting the washing

in the washing machine thinking, now,

he says this essay’s got to have

a good start – a wholesome middle – and a good end.

I’d be planning it in me head and my mind



It was life-saving, that.

Well. It didn’t do me marriage any good

but it kept me sane.


Eleanor Brown 2015