My Family and Other Animals
Forty six years ago my best friend at school was a chap called Stephen Lewis.
Each day he bused in to Purley Grammar from Coombe Lane in Croydon, whilst I cycled in from Coulsdon.
Stephen Lewis, Simon Ross, “Demon” Ward, “Chapman” and a few others played the lowest grade possible football, but we all got on like a house on fire.
My friend’s dad worked in oil exploration for Gulf Petroleum and came back from business trips with all manner of delicacies. I particularly remember being introduced to Pistachios, which had been brought back from Nigeria.
On Saturday’s we’d sometimes get together digging tunnels in his back garden (Colditz was on the TV back in Seventies), and we’d also hold PDSA fete’s to raise money for animals, or play Mine a Million on a Saturday afternoon.
His family were always hospitable, and whilst i had never shown much interest in model railways I always enjoyed the massive one running around the big room which took up the entire top floor of the home.
Sadly after our school days were over Stephen and I lost contact after he went off to The States. During the last week I’ve been thinking of him, as his favourite author was Gerald Durrell.
After all this time I too have at last read one of his books.
“My family and other animals” is a thin paperback of 300 pages recounting the childhood years of Gerry Durrell with his extraordinary family (but alas no dad) whilst living on Corfu just before the outbreak of World War II.
What makes this book so enjoyable is that the reader gets an insight on how a “successful” career was spawned from a childhood interest, and that a kid’s passion aided by a good (if eccentric) mother sets a young lad up for life.
Of course the book is a bit dated, but it’s well worth a read, if only to apprecaite how different life has become in the intervening 70 odd years.
My Score? Not quite 4 out of 5!