I was born in an industrial town in West Yorkshire. I went to day nursery when I was three and I can remember afternoon sleeps and wedges of bread spread with beef dripping. There were bikes and toys, but I wondered where the books were. By the time I went to infant school at age five, I’d been reading for two years already. They let me bring in my own books to read.
Our lending library began readings for children. More magic in my life! New titles to discover; more adventures in literature.
And then . . . the discovery of live theatre. I was intoxicated by the stage, the lights, the makeup and costumes. I thought pantomime was the best thing since ITV.
My mother took in lodgers from the repertory companies visiting the town. Years later when we were watching television, she’d say, See him, there, playing the landlord. He used to stay with us. Hasn’t he got fat?
The Hippodrome Theatre eventually made way for a boring row of concrete buildings. I don’t think I’m the only one who wishes it was still there.
Plush seats, a beautiful proscenium arch, ornate columns and carved balconies – the best thing before ITV – ironic that one favourite of mine killed the other.
But there were other things to enjoy during my childhood – music and dancing.The Conversaziones or “Cons” as we knew them, saw over 600 kids and their parents dancing to a live band. There was always a shortage of boys. I’m in this picture, partly obscured. Mother (in the dark dress near bottom left) always pushed young Celia up to the front of whatever was happening.
My working life has been as varied as the books I read: audit clerk for a firm of accountants, supervisor at Marks and Spencer, ledger clerk at a textile mill, fish and chip shop assistant, slimming group leader, barmaid, on the twilight shift in a slipper factory, English teacher.
I’ve lived in Yorkshire, Aberdeenshire and Norfolk. Now I live in France.