This is not what I intended to be writing about today, but you’ve got to roll with the punches.
I was either going to write about the fact that my uniforms piece is ready to collect from the framer’s, or about a couple of postcards I recently made from a 1965 record sleeve.
However, all that changed when I heard about the death of Sue Townsend.
My sister and I have always loved her.
My cousin, David, who is a year older than me, was always giving me books to read when we were at school. He introduced me to many great characters, one of which was Adrian Mole. We went to a rough-as-you-like comprehensive, in one of the most deprived areas of the country. There was a lot of glue- sniffing in my school. There were also a lot of extremely bright, overlooked kids. Our David was one of them. He is the son of a factory worker (my dad’s younger brother, who escaped the pit), and now works in a betting shop in our home town.
Over the years, meeting students, teachers, professors, professional people, I have often had the same thought. They are not nearly so bright as the kids I went to school with.
I came to London at nineteen to go to art college. It was the Eighties. It was Goldmiths’. I didn’t know about snobbery. Hard to believe, but I didn’t.
On the first day, we sat in a circle and discussed our favourite books. Mine, Adrian Mole. There were sniggers. I was crushed, and didn’t really talk again for the rest of the course. I became almost reclusive. It seemed everyone else knew what to say, and how to say it.
I knew I was different as I watched my fellow students arrive in their parents’ cars, loaded up with useful stuff, like pans and towels. I arrived on my own, on the National Express coach from Durham to Victoria, with one bag on my back. I got the 36 from Victoria, when I actually said the words “You can have my seat missus”. Also, I shouted a ‘thank you’ to the driver as I got off the bus. At home you would have never got off a bus without shouting ‘Thank you Driver”. To this day, I have always thanked the driver, sometimes a wave, too.
This morning I sent a quick email to my sister and our David, just saying ‘Sue Townsend has died’, below is the reply from our David. I’ve no idea why the font changes.
Thanks for the laughs, Sue.
I’ve just heard on Radio 5………..so sad………….I can’t believe poor Adrian is destined to be eternally unhappy and not fulfilled in his life!! The last couple of books had me both near to tears and laughing on the same page more often than not. I knew she was struggling with her health recently, with diabetes and blindness.
The side-story of his son with Sharon Bott, who he tried to guide along the right path despite being little more than dragged up, but because of poor education ended up in the Army in Iraq (or Afghanistan, I forget which!), and what happens with that is truly heart-wrenching……….it makes you not want to turn the page sometimes………yet finding yourself hurrying to do so!!!
A true literary great of our lifetime………RIP Sue.
Hope you are all well,