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3:56pm on Tuesday, 10th February, 2009:

Verse and Worse


When I was a child, we'd go and stay with my mother's parents for a couple of weeks every year as our holiday.

There were many things about these holidays that I liked, in particular my grandparents themselves. Don't worry, though, I'm not going to bore you with childhood reminiscences; I'm just going to mention the books.

My grandparents didn't have many books, but they did have a few annuals from the 1950s that we used to look forward to reading in bed when we woke up in the morning. The main ones were four Buffalo Bill annuals and a couple of Eagle annuals, which my brother and I would read and re-read avidly.

One day, though, when I was a bit older, I went to look for them and couldn't find them. My grandma told me she'd given them away, because we'd read them so many times that she thought we wouldn't want to read them again. Oh well.

Strangely, I do have one book from my maternal grandparents. I say "strangely" because it was given to me by my grandfather after I'd commented on it. I never saw him read a book, just newspapers and magazines, so it was odd that he had it. When I said I liked some of the things inside it, he said I could have it. The book was called Verse and Worse.

I was a bit embarrassed, because actually most of what was between the covers was rubbish — I didn't think it was funny when I was a child, and I don't think it's funny now. I'd only said nice things about it out of politeness. Some of it I did actually like, though, for example this:

I was only about 10, remember...

I wondered why it was that my grandfather was so quick to give me the book — I'd commented on lots of things in the past and he hadn't given them to me, nor had I expected him to. Why, then, had he given me that book?

Years later, I saw the following on the title page and it dawned on me:

I hope they're not still looking for it...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).