This is an excerpt from a lecture / essay I'm writing...
"Dad was in charge of my Saturdays. First he’d pick me up, in a scene reminiscent of Cold War dramas and the covert handing over of hostages and spies. Then – Newton Aycliffe town library. A tiny building, book-lined and safe, everything smoothed with plastic laminate. Chipboard and one glass wall. Familiar.
But he wouldn’t let me borrow anything from the fiction section.
‘Ah, lad. Story books are just for girls.’ He steered me firmly towards the other side of the Children’s section. And tried to get me reading books about football, war and cars.
I could have wept. I didn’t, though.
I found the bits of non-fiction that I could use. That I could make stories out of. Ancient Egyptians. Prehistoric Monsters. Romans. Vikings. Mysteries of the Unknown. UFOs. Ghosts. The Earth, Stars and Planets. These were the kinds of books I ended up receiving for birthdays and Christmas. Oh, he likes space, he likes nature and history. He likes Evolution and cavemen and dinosaurs.
My guilty secret was that I hardly ever read the text in those books. I pored over illustrations of luminously beautiful planets and graceful flesh-eating monsters at the dawn of time. All the factual matter I didn’t give a stuff about. I pretended to be taking it all in.
Instead I stared at rockets and tyrannosaurs and made up my own tales.
And I longed for fiction."