My mother was an avid reader; my father still is. As I have probably mentioned before, being in a house full of printed material has made me the ‘print-oriented junkie’ (Harold Rosen) that I am today.
In my memory, there were two main threads to my mother’s reading. One was what we might term ‘period romance’, perhaps best exemplified by Georgette Heyer. I tried some of these and they are, perhaps surprisingly, quite well-written. Some later examples of this genre were not as good; I was a little shocked when Mum lent me one and I found that it contained ‘scenes of a sexual nature’!
I fondly remember reading some of Mum’s books from her childhood. She particularly enjoyed the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ novels; oddly enough, I read them as a teenager and greatly enjoyed them. She also had the “What Katy Did” books.
Most fondly remembered are her cricket books. I’m not sure how she got a love of cricket; maybe from her mother-in-law, who took her to see a test match. We went to see county games together a couple of times and shared a love of Test Match Special, especially the humour. She bowled tirelessly to my son in her back garden, and was always delighted when he put in a good performance for his club. I think she was still aware enough to realise that he had scored his first century when we told her.
Her great hero was the Surrey and England bowler, Alec Bedser (later chairman of selectors). I still have a treasured copy of ‘Following On’, an account of the 1950-1953 cricket seasons, written by Alec and his twin brother, Eric.
Equally treaured, but more often read, is ‘The Book of Cricket’ by Denzil Batchelor. Published in 1952, it is a collection of potted biographies of cricketers from W.G. Grace to Peter May. I have read it, or dipped into it, time and time again. I can recite many stories from it to the boredom of anybody.
There are and were others, but these are my prized possessions and memories. Thanks, Mum.