Friday, 8 February 2013

My first fairy tale

I had stories galore read to me when I was young, but my earliest memory of a fairy tale isn't from a book, but from an audio cassette. I remember listening to Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes (which you can read online here) when I went to bed, which was always a winner because my little brother loved to hear them too, and when you share a room it helps when you can agree on certain things! These stories scared me in a delightful way, because they were unusual and read out with strange voices, and with music as disjointed as the tales themselves. The music used to freak me out so much I would hide under the covers until the stories started being read out! 

I think they left a lasting impression...mostly because when I think of fairy tale justice, barrels of nails and iron shoes don't spring to mind first for me. No, I think of Little Red Riding Hood, who 'whips a pistol from her knickers, aims it at the creatures head, and bang! Bang! Bang! She shoots him dead.'

Recently I heard an old cassette recording of my brother and I playing when we were really little, I was probably only about 5 (cassettes seem to be playing a big part in my fairy tale memories!) I ask him if he wants a story read to him, and he says yes. So I say...'This one? OK. Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood, and that's the end, there isn't any more. Would you like another one? Yes? OK...' This happens about 10 times before mum gets tired of listening to me 'read' various stories to my brother, who loved that I was telling him so many! 

Looking/listening back at this makes me feel guilty. I was a bad big sister. But there's something else to it, too: I didn't need to tell the story. We'd heard them hundreds of times before, and we would hear them hundreds of times more throughout our childhood. Just saying the title, we knew there was a familiar story there. I'm kind of pleased I have this evidence of short changing my brother - it reminds me just how important and common and everyday these stories were in my childhood. And I'm truly grateful for that today.

Would anyone else be willing to share their fairy tale firsts?

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