It was fascinating on my recent trip to London to see behind the scenes at some of the publishing houses and talk about how I read and how I write dovegreyreader, and interesting to try and explain all my own systems which I tend to take for granted because they just happen. Can I also confirm that I do it, in the inimitable words of a two year old I once met, 'by my own', someone recently had felt sure it had to be a conglomeration of people, no, just me...while Bookhound does the cooking and cleaning and shopping and... and...
But who knows the wealth of differing skills that we all bring to our reading?
I have quite surprised myself in that analysis because whilst talking to people various it became clear that the old working life, the one which I am so relieved to have moved sideways from, has given me many skills, one of which is that ability to read several books at a time and visualise, perhaps even take some mental video footage to keep something in my memory.
I'm sure everyone has their own methods and I'd be interested to know yours, it's basic memory skills after all, and I wouldn't go so far as to say I have a photographic memory because if I have I'd like to know where to buy new films, but a skill I had to learn in health visiting seems to be standing me in good stead with reading.
If I did four home visits in a morning I would have to settle down after those and write up the records, and I think you can see the potential for chaos if there was no method for separating out each visit and the vast amount of information that each one generated. Unwittingly I perfected the art of mental video and replay/rewind technology and storage of information that could be retrieved at will.
Of course it all comes to the fore when you are called to give evidence in court which hopefully won't happen as result of reading a book or writing a blog, but frequently happens as the result of being a health visitor. A subpoena to appear in court was definitely capable of spoiling my day and the weeks and months that followed until you got there.
My most memorable appearance was, as they always are, born of sad circumstances and a case of child abuse that I won't detail beyond an early indication of problems ahead when I had been the first to spot large and livid bruising on the leg of a nine month-old baby.
It's not a good moment let me tell you because the real 'inner you' feels momentarily sick to the core before it allows the 'professional you' to take over, but what I did next proved to be crucial when the case eventually came to court two years later.
I turned to the parents, pointed out the bruising and asked very simply how it had happened.
I knew them well, they had both had a poor experience of being parented themselves and were struggling with basic childcare but we had a good rapport, they were both very open about the difficulties and there was a lot of support in place.
As I turned around they were both looking at the floor.
Neither of them could make their usual eye contact with me and as they spoke to the floor offering an explanation my every instinct told me in an instant that it was untrue and this baby was at risk.
Unfortunately the paediatrician accepted their explanation later that day, and a great deal more happened with that family before the case went to court, but it was that single moment of memory amongst others about which I was questioned most intensely and by five different barristers.
Each time I replayed the footage in my memory of that moment and I was able to answer and share those misgivings and eventually, as the case progressed over the next few days, the awful truth emerged. I had been very right to be worried on that day two years previously.
Sorry that's all taken us off the reading track but the book I had picked up to try and recapture the mood it left me with, to reframe again a week or more, a trip to London and two theatre trips since I had finished it, was My Father's Places by Aeronwy Thomas . A book itself about memory, who knows what video-footage Aeronwy Thomas had re-played as she wrote of her childhood, but her account would need to offer me clear pictures if I was going to do it justice as I wrote about it here.
I opened it and read a bit to remind myself...
'After a few days, gradually my parents began to speak to each other again in cold, subdued tones, the atmosphere chilly like the deteriorating weather. Autumn was on its way. Now my parents quarrel had filtered down to me and I felt the lack of warmth,
'The trouble is you look so much like your father, ' Mother said when I asked of an explanation.'The harder I pull your curls the better I feel.'
I think that gave me enough to be getting on with, but I'd love to know what eases a book into your memory...