Francoise Sagan, well there's an author to conjure up from my youth.1970's to be exact and these actual books did the rounds of our student nurse's flat time and time again.
Four of us lived on the middle floor of a house in Haringey, round the corner from the dog stadium and though it seemed palatial to all of us after the confines of a Nurse's Home it was probably nearer to squalid than we cared to admit. We did fly at it with lashings of lurid paint which compensated somewhat but waking up to find mouse droppings on your pillow was a sign that perhaps all was not well.
The house belonged to a very large Greek family who lived like sardines on the ground floor and were always excruciatingly helpful in the most persistent ways. If ever they caught us lugging our washing off to the launderette they insisted, absolutely insisted that we used the very ancient rusty old pram that they kept expressly for the purpose.
Yes it was me you saw looking like a furtive bag lady in Haringey High St in 1973.
The arrival of a pristinely new copy of The Unmade Bed by Francoise Sagan from Hesperus took me right back to those days.
We were all avid readers in our humble abode and books would whizz around us all at the rate of an infectious disease.Nurse training at a top London teaching hospital in the 1970's required A Level standard education and we'd all interestingly done English Literature and loved it whilst flogging wearily through Human Biology.This did not bode well for the hours and hours of Anatomy & Physiology we had to embrace and so recourse to fiction was our salvation and our escape from a world that had suddenly narrowed alarmingly.
I often look back and have to remind myself that we were only nineteen but all dealing with tragedy on an enormous scale and on a daily basis.Serious illnesses and frequently the death of our young patients and we were only young ourselves.You needed to learn very quickly how you were going to cope with all that.Most of our schoolfriends were whooping it up at university, it was often very tempting to go and join them.
Reading fiction was and still is an incredibly precious resource.
Some books are etched on my consciousness from this time.There was one called Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon that we were almost killing each other to get our hands on.
H.E.Bates, John Galsworthy,Nevil Shute, Joseph Heller all had their day but favourites were the Francoise Sagan's, Bonjour Tristesse, Aimez-Vous Brahms..., La Chamade, The Heart-Keeper. All so precious that I still have my old 25p Penguin editions.
Every time I think it's time to throw them all out I can't.They are too faded, foxed and yellowed even for a jumble sale but the covers so of their time I only have to see them on the shelf to be back there...sitting in the launderette on Haringey High Street hoping against hope that someone, anyone would steal that rusty I'd pram left outside.
Honest as the day was long they were in Haringey in those days.