Updated: Sep 23, 2018
'It's Only Words.'
Funny the things that stay with you, not funny exactly, but strange, maybe wonderful.
When I was a child of 8 or 9, for my birthday I wanted Black Beauty. I had heard bits of the story but I wanted to own it. I loved that gleaming black horse with the white star on his forehead.
We lived in Kingscourt in County Cavan at that time, so on the Saturday before my birthday my mother took me to Schwer's book shop in Drogheda. They had the classic version of the book, a childish abridged version and a square, colourful, brightly illustrated version. I can still see that black foal in the green meadow on the front cover.
"This one," I said. And I saw, by the expression on my mother's face, that it cost a bob or two more than she had hoped to spend. However, I got it and had it for years. The opening lines were, "The first thing I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Shady trees hung over it and rushes and water lilies grew there." or words to that effect. Somethings just stay with you.
Why am I thinking of this now? Probably because, as I held the sample copy of my children's book in my hand, I realised how sad it would look without Viv's illustrations. It would be like the dull book I rejected, all those years ago, as a child, in favour of the exciting one with the pictures.
From that thought grew another, I have only words, not the images, that's all I have.....and of course the words of the Bee Gee came flooding to my mind, my favourite and one of their most poignant songs, "It's only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away." Not so bad.... I'm in good company!!! The feelings I had for that song years ago still stay with me, somethings just do.
Sr. Mary Immaculata taught me English for my entire time in the Sacred Heart Convent of Mercy School in Drogheda. I loved her and she loved English, Shakespeare, poetry, prose, creative writing, grammar, the lot. I never concurred with her where the grammar was concerned but, boy, did she instil a love of words that has never left me. 'Never hesitate to write what you feel girls, use your vocabulary, use your imagination.'
Over all the intervening years when sad, tired or just in a pensive mood, I have resorted to reading poetry. I even have a small hardback collection of Wordsworth's poetry that is my constant companion if travelling alone (if you can have a companion when travelling alone!!!).
I remember a stranger on a long-haul flight once asking me if I was afraid of flying. "Not at all," I said, "why do you ask". He said, "I noticed you are reading constantly from your prayer book".
Wordsworth said, "Fill your pages with the breathings of your heart." Who else but my William could put it quite so perfectly. Those words will never leave me!
Yeah! All the things that stay with you, and all sort of associated, funny that.