Oh dear, did everyone go when I was in Northern Ireland? Hope someone is still reading! Perhaps this will get you to say something... I'm afraid I'm going to take a literary nosedive, and return to that which I mentioned a few days' ago - Enid Blyton and the St. Clare's stories!
I've probably mentioned here before that I grew up on Enid Blyton, reading little else for quite a few years - it does mean I missed out on some gems of children's literature, but can always catch up now (I don't believe you can ever be too old for a good book). Those doom-mongerers who wanted Blyton banned and thought she would provide nothing but illiteracy to generations of youngters would find it hard to say I don't like books now... Blyton provides addictive, but harmless, stories which feed young imaginations and are almost limitless in their quantity.
I loved the St. Clare's series, largely because the central characters are twins. Pat and Isabel actually shun the book stereotype of being either absolutely identical or wholly opposite - though perhaps they are a little too like each other. Neither want to go to St. Clare's; within minutes of arriving they learn to be good eggs and to be true to their school and honest with their friends ya-dah-ya-dah. All enjoyable tripe. Blyton appears to have had a pathological hatred of 'tell-tales' (which always seems to me to be invented as an excuse for teachers to ignore the majority of children's squabbles) and a fervour for sport, and Janet (in the 'good egg' category) is so bluntly rude that I wanted to push her down a well - despite all these things, I've been joyously reliving my youth through these books. Any Blyton fanatics out there? Any children's books which can take you right back to your infancy - or do you avoid them on principle, in case your memories would be tarnished? I, for one, had no notion that Blyton used such a flood of exclamation marks...
Off to Somerset tomorrow, will be there for three weeks. On Friday I will hear whether or not Magdalen have granted me any funding... wish me luck!