Nine men and Norman, we won with nine men and Norman...
Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!
Fancy a bit of time travel? I hope so, as I have an idea for a blog, inspired by something I saw on Facebook this morning, on one of the book groups I belong to. The idea is thus: If you could take 12 books and go back in time to meet your 12 year old self, which books would you give to him or her?
So, for me to go back to the 12 year old version of Joanne Dixon-Jackson, we need to set the co-ordinates on our literary time machine to go back 32 years…
Year: 1985, Date: From 23rd April onwards…
So, the summer of 1985 will do nicely. The 1985 version of Joanne is 12 years old and lives in a semi-detached house in Monton, with her parents and younger sister, Ellie, who’s 9. She’s coming to the end of her first year at high school (Year 7 as it is known these days), and only has to walk round the corner to go to school as the lower building is right nearby!
UK number one singles in 1985
“Frankie” by Sister Sledge is number one, which Ellie has bought on 7″ single. Live Aid has just taken place at Wembley Stadium and in Philadelphia. M****e T******r is Prime Minister here in the UK, Ronald Reagan is President of the USA. 12 year old Joanne is still a year away from her first perm, lol, has Dangermouse wallpaper in her bedroom, has had a telly in her room since her 11th birthday in 1984 and loves staying up late, watching it. She is especially fond of Spitting Image on ITV on Sunday nights.
Everton are league champions (these are still the days of League Division One, before the Premier League, which doesn’t start until 1992), and Manchester United are FA Cup Winners, beating Everton in the final, 1-0 in extra time thanks to Norman Whiteside. This was achieved despite the fact United were reduced to ten men in normal time when Kevin Moran became the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup Final. Barry McGuigan is world champion at his weight in boxing and will be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 1985, and Dennis Taylor is World Snooker Champion, having beaten Steve Davis in an absolutely legendary final!
The 12 year old Joanne is very much a bookworm, and has been since before she even started school, so at the age of 12 she is pretty much reading teenager’s books and her favourites back then would be the first two Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. So, when we go back to 1985, we might find Joanne watching Live Aid, or reading about Adrian being profoundly in love with Pandora, lol!
So, which 12 books does the current version of Joanne, aged 43 going on 44, take to her 12 year old self in her time machine as she heads back to 1985?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling. I could, of course, take all the Harry Potter books, but that would take up seven of my twelve books, and I don’t even know if 12 year old Joanne is much into witches and wizards. Going back to my high school days, I remember our class reading Elidor, by Alan Garner, and at that time, I wasn’t really into it, so I think I am going to have to persuade my 12 year old self by emphasising the character of Hermione Granger and highlighting what a bookworm she is! That would probably convince my younger version to give it a go!
The Colour of Magic – Sir Terry Pratchett. OK, another book with wizards in it, but I’m going to stress how funny this series is to my 12 year old self. I’m going to tell the 1985 version of Joanne that she’ll like this series because she liked The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. (She will also like Red Dwarf on telly, although I don’t think that starts until 1988, so there’s another 3 years to go before she discovers the delights of that particular comedy!) Yes, there are definitely elements of humour in the Harry Potter series, but the Discworld series is full of comedy, and she’d love it!
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Right, 12 year old Joanne, you’re going to love this one! Definitely suitable for a 12 year old, and it’s a book featuring books. It’s set in Germany, just before and during the Second World War, and it is brilliant. It is quite sad, but there are some funny bits with reference to Jesse Owens, so that should appeal to your love of the Olympics! In years to come you will get to go to Berlin and visit the stadium where Jesse won his four golds and inspired Rudy in The Book Thief to do what he does…
Under The Frog – Tibor Fischer. You will love this and laugh your head off! It’s set in Hungary during the Cold War era. OK, for you, it’s still the Cold War era, of course, as it’s 1985, and the Berlin Wall is still very much up. But that’s going to come down in another 4 years! No, I shit you not, Joanne! The whole Iron Curtain thing has only got a few more years to run! The Berlin Wall will come down in 1989, East Germany and West Germany will become just Germany again in 1990, and will be “Western” like us, despite what Dad thought when you asked him years ago, and the USSR will cease to exist at the end of 1991! For real! I’m from your future, remember?! I know what happens, at least up to February 2017, which is where I’ve come from in time!
In years to come, you’ll be able to get to know lots of other people via computer. It will be called the internet, and there’ll be a site on it called Facebook. You’ll make lots of friends, and some of your friends will recommend books to you. One of your friends will recommend Under The Frog, plus a fair bit of other literature from, or at least set in, what you now know as Iron Curtain countries. A guy called David Hunt will recommend that one to you. It’s a way off now, I know. You’ll be in your 30s and working in an office in town by then!
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson. This is from an American guy who’d been living here in the UK for years and, before he takes himself and his family back to the States, he goes off on a tour round this country, marvelling at what makes us tick. It’s VERY funny! As you’re in 1985, it’s not even going to be published for another ten years! Accurate at the time, but a year after the book is first published, the Arndale Centre will have to be rebuilt and will finally lose those awful yellow tiles! (Pity it will be because of a bomb going off in town in June 1996, but the silver lining will be the regeneration of Manchester afterwards and the redesign of the Arndale in particular.)
Odd Man Out – Brian McClair. A football autobiography, and one of the best, and funniest, ever written! You won’t know Choccy yet, but you will come to know and appreciate him when you start going to Old Trafford in 1991! Yep, I know… in another 6 years’ time, you’ll become a match-going Red and will end up as a Stretford Ender, singing your heart out for the lads at home games, and also cup finals…
My Story – Eric Cantona. Another football autobiography, this one purely because it’s Eric Cantona. Watch out for this guy! You won’t know him now, of course, any more than you’d know Brian McClair. Right now, you only really know Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside, lol, but this French bloke is going to play for United from 1992 to 1997, and he will become your all-time favourite player, and you will still love him to bits years after he’s retired!
The Good Soldier Svejk – Jaroslav Hasek. Another of those Iron Curtain Country reads, although this was set long before then, during the First World War in fact, but it is VERY funny, goes off at a tangent at times, and has some great illustrations! Another book which was recommended to me on Facebook by David Hunt, and you will love it! It isn’t actually finished, really – Hasek died without bringing it to an obvious conclusion. He was a bit of a pisshead, actually. Yeah, rather like certain people I could mention! This one’s set in Czechoslovakia as you’d know it. That country splits up in 1993, quite peacefully, into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but there’s another 8 years to go yet before you see that happen on the news!
Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson. Yeah, I know, you’re going to wonder why the hell I’m bringing you a book about cricket! Going to be years before you finally get your head around one of our national sports! But it’s not really about the cricket, it’s about the travelling and the mishaps which befall the team, that’s what makes this book so hilarious! Travel is funny. Very funny. You will see some seriously daft shit on your travels, such as a wall with eyes on it, which looks like it has a face!
Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby. And back to football again. No, he’s not a Red, he’s a Gooner – an Arsenal fan, and it’s about him growing up supporting Arsenal and waiting for them to win the league again after a pretty long wait. They’d won in 1971, but then he had to wait until 1989 before his team were champions again. Your older self first read this book in 1994, on a day when she wasn’t at uni herself, so she was going round Sunderland Uni with Mum, Dad and Ellie, as it would be Ellie’s turn to go to open days.
I picked this one because I was at university at the time, in my final year, so you now know that you get to fulfil your childhood ambition of wearing a cap and gown – you will graduate in the summer of 1994. Also, you will have seen United win the league by the time you read this book, and United will end an even longer wait for a league title than Arsenal do in this book, when they win in 1993, a 26 year wait will be over when the Reds are crowned inaugural Premier League Champions in May 1993. 8 more years to go for you, yet…
The Story of Music – Howard Goodall. Yeah, I know, you do have that copy of Introducing Music, by Otto Karolyi, which Dad gave you, and that will certainly help you work out the pitch ranges for various instruments when you have to compose music for your exams in later years at high school. By the way, it won’t be O Levels, it’ll be these things called GCSEs, which will replace O Levels and CSEs a couple of years before you sit your exams and end your compulsory education. Oh, and Winton High School will be merged with Ellesmere in 1987, and become Wentworth High School, so there’s a change of school name and uniform in two years’ time! However, in years to come, the school’s name will revert back to Ellesmere Park High School, but not for a bloody long time, lol!
You’re going to get an A, anyway – along with foreign languages, music is one of your best subjects, but I’m bringing you a copy of this from the future as I know it will be of interest and of use to you, both as a musician and a music fan. You currently play the recorder and are attempting the oboe. Those double reeds are a pain in the arse, though, aren’t they?! Never mind, though, as you’ll be better off with single reeds, as you’ll find out in a year or so when you try the clarinet instead and have rather more luck with that one! It’s hard to curl your lips around two reeds, one reed is much more manageable!
Prepare to play quite a few different instruments during the course of your life! Music will play a big role in your spare time over the years. You’ll do a bit of singing, too, but mostly playing musical instruments.
And finally, book number 12…
Attention All Shipping -Charlie Connelly. I’ve brought you quite a few books to make you laugh, and this is one of them! You know when you’ve stayed up late at night to discover how television channels and radio stations close down for the night? I know it’s not your usual choice of station, as you’re definitely a Radio 1 girl, and will be for some time to come yet, but you know how Radio 4 has that Shipping Forecast late at night just before the national anthem and close down? Well, this guy goes on a tour of all the places mentioned in the Shipping Forecast and it is VERY funny! Especially a bit near the end about Faroese puffins!
Not only is this book very funny and informative, but it is a souvenir of what will be your 40th birthday holiday in Mexico! I know you’ve lived in Switzerland, and that you went to the USA for the first time last year, but you’re going to do a lot more travelling when you’re older! By the end of the 80s, Ellie’s trampolining will cause us to go to France and Switzerland for competitions, but from 1991 onwards, once you turn 18, you are really going to go to a lot more places on a far regular basis, and you will love it!
Oh, and in about 25 years from now, 2010, the fact that computers will let you make contact with other people around the world electronically will prompt you to start writing regularly on the internet about books, and some people will start to read and even enjoy what you write about those books! I know! Mad, isn’t it?! Madder than a box of frogs!
So, these are my 12 books I am bringing you from the future, Joanne! Happy Reading!
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
- The Colour of Magic – Sir Terry Pratchett
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- Under The Frog – Tibor Fischer
- Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
- Odd Man Out – Brian McClair
- My Story – Eric Cantona
- The Good Soldier Svejk – Jaroslav Hasek
- Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
- Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
- The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
- Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
Other books mentioned during this blog…
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
- The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
- Elidor – Alan Garner
- The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
- Introducing Music – Otto Karolyi
* Joanne gets back in the time machine and heads back to February 2017… *