Friday, 4 April 2008

Home again.

All went well in Oxford yesterday, though I've been stricken with a horrible virus today, and am writing this with a streaming nose and feverish head (just as well that this virus can't be spread via the computer). Anyway, it was a beautiful spring afternoon when I arrived in Oxford, and I went for a wander around Jericho, where I lived as a child. Standing in front of our old house, on Richmond Road, I was so overcome with nostalgia that I found myself gazing in through the window, on the verge of tears. Fortunately, the very amenable owner didn't take offense, and asked me in for a cup of tea after I told her that I'd grown up in the house. It was all just as I remembered it -- my little bedroom on the top floor, overlooking the garden with its apple and pear trees. Even the miniature box hedges were still there, which edged my mother's herb garden.
By the time I got to Christ Church to do my event in the evening, I'd fallen in love with Oxford all over again -- the twilight gathering in the meadows behind the college, the bells ringing out from the tower. It's such a seductive place.
Anyway, my event sold out -- hurrah! -- and it was such a lovely audience, including some midwives who had come all the way from Glasgow, and who bought three copies of 'Daphne' each, and could quote lines from Branwell Bronte's poetry. ('Why dost thou sorrow for the happy dead?') If any of them happen to read this -- thank you so much for being there!
Actually, I wanted to say thank you to everyone in the audience, because they asked such good questions, and were real enthusiasts. Also, one of my former teachers from junior school came -- and afterwards she told me that Philip Pullman taught at my old school; but not me, sadly (I think I must be too old to have been one of his pupils, given that I was born in 1961).
Must stop rambling, and go and cook fish for hungry teenage sons. No dreaming spires in view from north London, but the magnolia tree is blooming in the back garden, and the wisteria is budding, and the blackbird is singing at dusk.

7 comments:

Ellen said...

Dear Ms Picardie,

I thought I'd say your book looks very interesting and I've found a copy I can afford here in the US: it's not yet published in the US as you probably know so I got myself an advanced (reviewers'?) copy.

I noticed you link your site to Susan Hill's. I like her work very much. I've assigned _Woman in Black_ to classes more than once.

I like Daphne DuMaurier's work and books about her work and her.

Ellen Moody

Bront√ęBlog Adm. said...

Great to hear the event went so well but I hope you're feeling better today, Justine!

I'm amused to hear that Branwell has 'groupies' :D

Cristina

Justine Picardie said...

Ellen -- thanks for your message. I'm glad you've got an early copy in the US -- you'll have to forgive the mistakes within it, as it's an uncorrected proof. Like you, I'm a fan of Susan Hill -- and as you proably know she wrote an imaginative sequel to Rebecca. Anyway, I do hope you enjoy 'Daphne', and let me know what you make of it...
Cristina -- I am still feeling awful, with watering eyes, streaming nose, and a temperature. In fact, I'm going to go to bed for a bit.
Will post later...

Table Talk said...

I'm so glad it all went well, but very sorry about the virus. Just have it, there is no point in trying to deflect these things. I'm also glad that your visit to your childhood home was such a success. So often this sort of return doesn't live up to our memories. I remember going back to my primary school - it was so small!

Justine Picardie said...

And actually, our house looked far smaller than I remembered it -- as if through a telescope...

dovegreyreader said...

Catching up and hope you are feeling better Justine. I have never returned to my childhood home but I know I would feel just as you did at the sight of my bedroom, though I'm not sure Mitcham would be quite as seductive as Oxford!

Janet Gordge said...

Justine - I was at school with you - Milham - the girl from the lesser end of Oxford - Blackbird Leys - I have been trying to get hold of a couple of old school friends - Frankie Irwin and Margaret Thorne - if you have a contact for either of them I would love to get in touch. Margaret did a picture of me for my 18th and I am using it for a party invitation for my 50th! If you can please email me at jgordge@shaldon.devon.sch.uk
Thank you - love from Janet Gordge. PS congratulations on having such a fulfilled life - you are living my dream being a published author - I started a novel 10 years ago but have done nothing more with it! Well done you - quite fantastic! X