Tag Archives: Doris Lessing

From road rage to eyebrows

Did I ever tell you about my ‘crush’ on Meg Rosoff? Well, anyway, I quite like her. And her books. So it was high time the Guardian Weekend did one of their profile thingies on her. Interestingly, she – or the editor – picked out her tendency to ‘inspire road rage’ for the headline. It was one of my earliest discoveries with Meg. You know, when she is on the verge of opening the car window (on the passenger side) to say something ‘interesting’ to the driver over there. And you’d rather she didn’t, because you are sitting in the passenger seat, and you’d quite like to survive a few more days.

Being in a car with your hero is obviously the thing. Addy Farmer published the shortest, but most succinct, blog post on getting close to someone she admires, after she gave Malorie Blackman a lift. I wish I could be that brief.

Liz Kessler wedding

Another blog entry I was overjoyed to read, was the one on ABBA by Liz Kessler (who only happens to be the subject of Daughter’s huge admiration). It left tears in my eyes, and I believe, in many more eyes than mine. The hard thing about children’s authors coming out must be that while children are generally not prejudiced, they depend on adults to buy their books for them. So if children’s authors are being over-cautious, it’s because of the ‘grown-ups.’

But hero worship is not limited to people like me or Daughter or Addy. Heroes ‘suffer’ from it as well. It was fascinating to read about Margaret Drabble’s admiration for Doris Lessing. Both the ease with which she got to know her, how Doris Lessing ‘used’ her, and about having lunch with Margaret’s cleaner.

And as we are moving up in the world (in this blog post, I mean), I need to share with you the glorious moment when MMU Writing School director and organiser of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, James Draper, met the Queen. James had better not have washed that hand since, as I’m hoping to shake it when I next see him.

James Draper and Queen Elizabeth II

Last but not least, we have someone else whose work I admire. If you can call it work? Someone who sadly has lost his cleaner, but who still has two ladies come and do his eyebrows. At home. Yes, it is Tim Dowling. When it comes to entertaining people by writing about everyday life, Tim is master of the kind of humour that ‘just happens.’ The trick is to know when and how to use it.

Lessing on books, and less books for me

Doris Lessing’s Nobel acceptance speech was mentioned twice to me yesterday before I had time to read it. Call me a cynic, but I generally don’t expect much from these things, but this time I really felt inspired. It was well written (not surprisingly), easy to read and on such a very important subject.

Having moaned quite recently here about having too many books, and what on earth I can do about it, I feel thoroughly ashamed. Oxfam has been the intended recipient, for when I can actually decide what to keep and what can go. But now I wonder if this is good enough.

Not all my surplus would be suitable for the readers in Zimbabwe that Doris Lessing wrote about, but a lot of it would be fine. How can I get my books to somewhere like that, without doing silly things like getting on a plane with suitcases full of books?

Coincidentally, just two days ago Daughter was bemoaning the disappearance of Dickens from the school library. Not that she wants to read Dickens you understand (for GCSE they read two chapters of Great Expectations…), but as a book lover she felt that dumping a shelf full of fresh new hardback Dickens was wrong. The official reason is that the books hadn’t been taken out by students. From my own time as a volunteer in that library I suspect that the books were simply dumped. They can’t be recycled as paper, and for some reason the school can’t take them to a charity shop.

It makes me want to cry.