Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Slad

I'm struggling to focus myself at the moment - far too many ideas jostling for attention and difficulties working out how to realise them so they look as I want - any of them ...

Right now, in an effort to think in a different way about the work for the series of pieces on the Cotswold Edge, I've been rereading that beautiful classic Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee. It is an autobiographical account of Lee's growing up in the nineteen twenties in the Gloucestershire village of Slad which nestles in the hills near Stroud right on the Cotswold edge.

The language of the book is rich and poetic and describes in great detail the simple life of a working class boy growing up with his mother and siblings just after the end of the First World War.

I've found on the internet a photo of the cover of my copy - now lost, sadly. It was published by Penguin Books in 1962, before we went decimal and so cost the grand sum of 3 shillings and 6 pence - now about 15 pence.

I'd forgotten how much I had enjoyed it when I first read it in my teens whilst I was at school. On this reread, I have been especially taken with the lovely descriptions of the landscape, the people and the way of life.

Take this quote for instance:

"The great beech filled at least half the sky and shook shadows all over the house. Its roots clutched the slope like a giant hand, holding the hill in place. Its trunk writhed with power, threw off veils of green dust, rose towering into the air, branched into a thousand shaded alleys, became a city for owls and squirrels. I had thought such trees to be as old as the earth; I never dreamed that a man could make them. Yet it was Granny Trill's dad who had planted this tree, had thrust in the seed with his finger. How old must he have been to leave such a mark? Think of Granny's age, and add his on top, and you were back at the beginning of the world."

It is certainly giving me something to think about ...



14 comments:

  1. Beautiful writing...I could really see that tree in my mind. Thanks for sharing this book and quote.

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    1. There are so many other rich bits of description and some lovely pen-portraits of characters living in the village. I'm so enjoying reading the book again, slowly and gently ...

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  2. You are sending me off to look in my bookshelf, I know I had this, might have to see if I can get it on my kindle if I cant find it. I remember loving it.

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    1. I had to resort to my Kindle to read it as I've long since lost mine - not quite the same feeling of intimacy with a Kindle, but so convenient.

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  3. I think there's something unsettling in the air at the moment - so many people saying the same thing about having lots of ideas and thoughts buzzing about in their heads - I suspect we just have to ride the storm - reading Laurie Lee has to be a good idea.

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    1. Perhaps it's the autumn return to reality - after the rest and recuperation and new experiences of summer. Finding routine and concentration is hard. Whatever it is, Laurie Lee is good and gentle and seems to be helping ...

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  4. I was reminded of Cider with Rosie recently with one of those country programmes on Radio 4. I too remember reading the book as a teenager, and loving it. It was a different country, because England was not a place I had encountered then, and read it shivering in the NE wind in Edinburgh.
    I later taught it, in Liverpool, to city kids, and I think we all enjoyed it - I certainly did again. I had that copy too, and it is either in a box somewhere, but more likely given to Oxfam in one of my clearouts.
    I hope that your ideas sort themselves into some loose order, so that you can progress.

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    1. Edinburgh to Gloucestershire - a big leap of mind. I know both well and have experienced the biting north east wind of eastern Scotland on so many occasions.
      A lovely book to teach I would think. I taught too before I retired but, in latter years, much younger children with special needs and my main reading matter with them was the Fuzzbuzz reading scheme in an attempt to help them read!

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  5. I often get out my copy of Cider With Rosie. Laurie Lee brings so much poetry to prose and reading his books is like being there with him.

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    1. Indeed - the writing is very vivid and involving. As a teenager I went on to read the other two books in the trilogy but didn't find those so compelling. Perhaps I will try those when I've finished Cider with Rosie. I might enjoy them more with an adult eye.

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  6. A fabulous read!
    I went to school in Stroud and my friend took the part of Rosie in a film made in the 70's

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    1. How amazing is that!
      What a beautiful part of the country it is. I was not raised in the Cotswolds but we have become well settled here in these last 18 years and have grown to love it. We often walk parts of the Cotswold way and marvel at the stunning views across the vale to Wales.

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  7. What joy! The paragraph you shared was like music, a beautiful combination of words. Thank you.

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    1. Laurie Lee's favourite form of writing was poetry which is not a surprise. It's a wonderful book - poetic throughout.
      The image I most enjoyed refinding in this extract was of the roots of the beech tree as a giant hand holding the hill in place. How often have I seen that and not had the words to express it!

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