I was raised on high fantasy books, dragons, elves, magic, pixies all of that, along with Just William and Enid Blyton, Oscar Wilde and Terry Pratchett, a love of Greek myths and legends and the tales of King Arthur (albeit diluted versions, Monty Python and BBC adaptations over Tennyson and Thomas Mallory, that comes later). Oh, and Lord of the Rings, yes, even the bloody Silmarillion. I loved Myths, Magic and Monsters, and still do 😉
I always wanted to be an Elf, sleek and perfect, with a fey grace that has never really matched my personality. We can dream, although this one probably doesn’t fit me that well! If anything i’m more a hobbit, or a discworld wizard, much more comfortable with a hot meal and a good book than trapesing through woodland or pushing my physical limits. I enjoy dinner and company, luckily lack furry feet, and as much as i like an adventure, I like to end with a cosy retreat. If you offered me a hobbit hole, i’d be happy for life, and i probably wouldn’t even need to raise the ceilings that much.. It would be amazing, space to curl up and to have friends round for tea.
I dream of having a library, to share my own stories and to hoard all the others that i’ve found and love, although not like a dragons hoard, this would be to share and love. I want to, if i’ve read something that I think is wonderful, I think you should too. From Woolf to Wilde, Discworld or Brideshead, If I know you well enough I can find something to share, that imaginary expanse of books that I crave. I’m getting there, every time i move house i realize that most of my luggage is books, and for every one i give away I find myself with two more. Some, I’ve hated, but kept. Some, I loved, and treasure. I’ve got 3 copies of some, battered and brand new, books freshly printed and some falling apart at the seams. I’m especially proud of my copy of the hitchhiker’s guide, which honestly looks as though it’s been carried around the galaxy wrapped a towel.. I can most definitely relate to Arthur Dent’s desperate quest for a cup of tea across the galaxy.
I also fancied being a fop, on of those idle rich that Wilde and Waugh both satirise magnificently. I’m still a little bit in love with Sebastian Flyte, the tragic first romance in Brideshead Revisited crushes me ever time I read it. I do this fairly frequently, I think every good book is worth re-reading, like a good film is worth re watching, and even if you don’t enjoy it the first time you may love it on a second read. There’s always some hidden gem that you’ve passed by before, and it’s amazing when you find something new in a book you’ve read a million times..
I seem to have a soft spot for the doomed, Basil in Dorian Grey breaks my heart, although I love the naughtiness of Lord Henry, the lack of realisation and the beautifully constructed tragedy that is the downfall of every single character. Oh, and Horatio. I once blurted out in class that I disliked everyone but Horatio in Hamlet, and then had to explain that this is why I love the play so much. They are spectacularly fallible so human and full of fault. Except Horatio, he doesn’t say much, but whether his love for hamlet is homosexual or homosensual, he is inspiring devastating and basically rather wonderful. In the midst of tragedy, he shines as a beacon of hope, overshadowed in a corner of Pandora’s nightmare.
I get attached to characters, my own and other peoples, too easily. Agatha Runcible in Vile Bodies (and the Steven Fry film – Bright Young Things) who is fabulous, wonderfully anarchic and a bit of a feminist icon, even if she may be doing it for effect. I love the line “you must get married, I have just the trousers to wear” and the fact that she operates as an independent woman within her time, socially anarchic even if it is done to attract the attention of the early paparazzi. Waugh satirises and paints tragically doomed characters, but despite his own feelings they still have a life of their own and are again wonderfully human. Although Agatha tragically falls to mental illness, she does so by driving a racing car, and even at the end goes out in style, she is last seen when the main characters assemble for a party in the mental institution where she resides. Her death is a passing statement later in the book, she fades sadly as events take a darker turn.