Let’s talk reading, I never read for pleasure, all reading to me is research. The act of discovery. The act of learning. The art of pleasure is something very different. When I read I step through a door into worlds that I could never imagine. Reading can make me think of things, ideas pop out of the ether and drown beneath the eddies. Reading for me was in full flow at a tiny library in a year my teacher branded me a ‘retard’ (oh, yes that word was still very much in use in the 1980s by some teachers). Why was that word used? The simple answer was the teacher in question, a substitute who revealed why some teachers never get tenure, still believed that to measure a child’s reading age was to make them stand on a chair and read in front of a class. This weekly torture resulted in adding to my speech problems, I still struggle with certain sounds even today and have to focus hard on saying some words correctly. I suspect that speech therapy gave me a love for words, even public speaking but that chair, in that cold mobile classroom still haunts me. It brings up a modern re-branding of the word ‘retard’ for ‘stupid’. Some beliefs never go away and some kids are forever scarred with the idea that because they don’t read they are stupid. I have always thought that people who struggle to read have yet to find the book for them, and there is a book for everyone out there. So, five years of speech therapy and my reading age which for my school back then was sub-par went into the stratosphere. I have always read. I have always loved books, even when I used them as car ramps but it was the Beano that brought me into the folds of reading from there I devoured the children’s library in a race to follow my older sister into the adult’s library, which back then was strictly segregated. I achieved that in the year that the teacher who used the word ‘retard’ was kindly asked to leave my school, I waved goodbye to her holding John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I was nine, she was old enough to know better than to use words that were beneath us all. So, now I am reading more than I have done so in a long time, I am consuming books by the week, placing more on wish lists all in the name of research, all in the pursuit of my own story to write.
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