This Saturday I’ll be jumping into Fleur Hitchcock’s little car and heading to Nottingham for the UKMG Extravaganza. It’s going to be a very interesting day. First I’ll get to natter to Fleur for HOURS, which is one of my favourite things to do (don’t know how she feels about it, mind…). Second, I’ll have the chance to meet up with lots of authors who, like me, write books for children aged 7-12. Most of these authors I’m only on tweeting terms with, so it will be a good chance to see what they’re really like! (And of course to find out all about their latest books.)
But thirdly, for me this will also be an opportunity to visit Nottingham, the home of my birth, childhood and youth. I haven’t been back for aaaaages. Hope I still know my way around.
On the way into town we’ll almost certainly pass my old house, the one we moved into when I was two and famously asked a gas man to change my nappy. To tell you the truth I’m a bit worried about seeing my house. Remembering it reminds me of this book.
When we first moved in we had a long front garden, with roses and cherry trees at the foot. There was a fifty foot slope behind the back garden which led to a disused and pleasantly overgrown quarry, and the road outside the house wasn’t too busy.
But as the years rolled by things changed, just as they did for the Little House in the famous 1942 story by Virginia Lee Burton. The quarry was the site used to build the Queen’s Medical Centre, a huge hospital which grew up behind the house, many of the windows looking in over our trees. (When anyone we knew went in as a patient and said they’d seen us in the garden, my mum threatened to paint rude messages on the sheets that hung on the line.) Later on, the road was widened to make room for more and more traffic. The house at the corner of the road was knocked down entirely, while our garden was cut back so that we lost the rose bed, a big chunk of lawn, and the cherry trees too.
I don’t know how our house has been faring since it was sold some years ago, but things got much worse for The Little House in the story. She had all her windows broken and was bashed about, neglected and almost forgotten. Of course, there was a solution to all the industrialisation in the end. The Little House was rescued by people who loved her and taken to a safe place in the countryside, surrounded by cherry trees. I haven’t actually asked her yet, but if things are as bad as I fear, do you think Fleur will mind towing a house back to Somerset on Saturday night?