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  • Christine Cohen Park

1953 in My Father’s House IV Feeling My Way

I decided to give up Enid Blyton. The adventures of The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Mallory Towers and St Clare’s had been enthralling reads out in Cape Town on my old mattress on the stoep. But now the books no longer seemed adequate for all the new sensations and feelings I was going through. I wandered into my father’s study and contemplated his shelves.

Other writers talk of fully entering the world of adult literature and consuming volumes from public libraries, or should they be lucky enough from their parents’ shelves, by the time they were my age. Queen Elizabeth 1 as we know was reading not only in English but in Latin and Greek before puberty. But I was a backward child I’d gleaned from disparaging comments from my mother and teachers in South Africa. It took all my emotional energy to negotiate the pitfalls of our leaky life. There hadn’t been sufficient space over for sufficient spurts in brainpower.

One evening after supper I waylaid my father in his study. I stood, my legs wide, my stomach protruding to give me more confidence.

‘I need a book.’

He pointed to the library shelves. ‘No good?’ With eyebrow raised in a seemingly amused question mark.

I nodded.

‘Very well. You’d better come into Brighton tomorrow and we’ll see what we can do.’

‘How? I mean, how will I get there?’

‘You’ll take a bus to the station, then walk. Marco will tell you which number you’ll need to catch. Or Mrs Ash. Here’s the address’ – he handed me a piece of paper. ‘When you arrive just go through the revolving desk and ask whoever is on the desk for me.’ .......................................


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