Monday, February 17, 2014

After Lights Out

Did you ever read after lights out as a kid? Recently I came across a guest post I did on The Alphabet Soup Blog a little while ago and thought I might share it with you here. Let me know in the comments below if you ever read books or comics after lights out. Mum always threatened to throw away our comics, but never did...
As a child I was a little scared of the dark. It’s not surprising really. You see, after lights out, when Mum and Dad were watching TV in the lounge room, my brother would slither into my room on his stomach and pop his head up next to my bed with a wicked grin. Then, when my face was as pale as the flannelette sheets tucked under my chin, he would point to the top cupboard above my wardrobe doors (a cupboard I was too small to have ever seen inside) and tell me “A witch lives in there”.
After many interruptions to their evening viewing, Mum and Dad replaced a light bulb on the wall above my bed with a red globe. It was warm and soothing and I could easily see my brother’s bottom as it slunk into the room, sticking up in the air like a shark’s fin (enter Jaws music here).
brother and sister in an apple bin
What the red light globe also allowed me was the pleasure of reading in bed. Every book and comic had a red tinge, but I could read for hours and fall asleep with adventures and words spinning through my head. Mum knew of course. The pile of reading material under my bed must have been a sure giveaway. She warned me I would damage my eyesight and I promised the red light was only there to keep away my fears, not to read.
That was a lie.
I devoured every book in the school library and my cousin’s collection of Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’. A trip to the shops meant a detour to the bookstore, where I purchased the classics: Little Women, Black Beauty, What Katy Did, Heidi, My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead, and read them all by the red light of my room.
A favourite of mine was Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace, the adventures of a young teen in 1907. But my large volume of ‘The Works of Lewis Carroll’ took pride of place on my bookshelf. The illustrations by John Tenniel had me in raptures and one year a friend and I went to a fancy dress party as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
I never owned a picture book and coveted my cousin’s Green Eggs and Ham. Nowadays if I were caught reading after lights out, it would either be a picture book or a mid grade/YA novel. Adult fiction doesn’t excite me, even though I joined a book club to force myself to read it. It seems the young reader in me is still alive, tucked up in a flannelette sheet, reading under a red light.


Unknown said...

Beautiful, simple illustrations. Thanks for the extra advice for the Brisbane Illustrators Group PB

Angela Sunde. said...

Hi Rebecca, It's so lovely to see you here! By the PB on the end I fear your comment has ended up on the wrong post. To enter Alison's comp, you need to post on the blog tour interview with Heath McKenzie. A New Friend for Marmalade.