Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, an enthralling tale of pirates and adventures, was the first book where I actually identified with the characters.
It was an exciting read, yet terrifying at the same time.
My vessel sank in the mud before I reached the opposite side of the creek and I had to go home stinking of the Solent
The book related to all the things I love – the outdoors, campfires and sailing (although the only time I’ve actually been out ‘on the water’ is on the Isle of Wight ferry).
Oh, and as a 10-year-old I also made my own boat out of polystyrene packaging which I ‘sailed’ around Fareham Creek using a damaged cricket bat and an old broom handle as oars.
Needless to say, my vessel sank in the mud before I reached the opposite side of the creek and I had to go home stinking of the Solent, which greatly displeased my parents.
I remember it was a weekday and bath night usually only occurred on a Sunday!
Anyway, back to the book. If you haven’t heard of it before, it tells the tale of four children staying at a farm in the Lake District in August 1929.
They sail a borrowed dinghy named Swallow and join forces with another couple of children, Nancy and Peggy Blackett, in their craft called The Amazon, against sworn enemy the Blacketts’ uncle whom they call Captain Flint.
There’s lots of mischief, skullduggery and walking the plank involvedf.
A year or so after I first read the book, it was actually made into a film in 1974 starring Born Free actress Virginia McKenna.
I remember going to see it at the old Embassy cinema in Fareham, now sadly a fast food outlet.
It was my first introduction to the big screen and I can recall it like it was yesterday, sitting in plush velvet seats with our 10 penny mix, giggling at one of the characters whose name was Titty and being shouted at by an irate usherette to be quiet.
The film is set for another revival as a remake of this classic tale is to be released next year.
There’s no sign of Titty though as it was deemed to be too rude a name, so she is apparently now to be called Tatty to avoid the sniggers of the audience!