Yesterday would have been Nancy’s 100th birthday – not that I think she would have particularly wanted to reach 100 unless she could have been assured good mental and physical health. But since Amateurs was designed to appear for the Durrell centenary (which was Feb) it seems worth marking hers too. And I would have done it yesterday only spent most of the day on trains – not going very far, but going very slowly or not at all due to, I think, a motorist hitting a bridge. After a while I felt like hitting a bridge too out of frustration. Actually, it wasn’t so bad because I was finishing Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? – full of good things, such as
‘Yes, the past is another country, but one that we can visit, and once there we can bring back the things we need. Literature is common ground.’
In Jeanette Winterson’s story and the way she clung to literature like a life raft in an impossible family, there are parallels with Nancy’s identification with another world than that of her parents – the world of art and books. Now I read books for pleasure and distraction – the child in an unhappy family reads them to survive. Quite different.