A Tiny Memoir

I loved little people; the earliest stories were, obviously, Blyton’s. There was a girls magazine, either The Bunty or The Judy that had a weekly series about a girl who had a living doll – that might have been the name of the story. I lived for that, gasping for the next episode. There was something about the measurement, the distance between the human girl and the tiny human-like young woman. I think there was a difference in their ages; I don’t remember the little person being a child, childish in any way. In my memory the girl was being guided, kept (let’s call her Living Doll) the secret and seemed to be helping Doll to stay free. I’ve forgotten all and any of their adventures.

How could I have missed The Borrowers? No one told me about them, about that book. The first one was published in 1952, two years before I was born – so why weren’t they on the shelves of my library? Why didn’t my librarians push them at me? There were four of them – FOUR, by the time I was seven or eight; I spent hours sitting in a corner of that little library; it was barely the size of my whole house…a poor thing really, a classroom on the end of the school. I discovered The Borrowers when the BBC produced the TV series, when I was about forty. When I think of that little me and how she would have adored that world…of course I read all the books, in the end; I bought a huge compilation for one of my nieces and read it all before I gave it to her.

But Living Doll wasn’t the only little person story in my life: one of the Superman comics had a story about a miniaturised city full of people…not sure if it was Krypton or not, but it sat under a glass dome and Superman looked after them…or saved them, or something. Not many people I’ve asked about this remember it – or Living Doll. Maybe I invented them.

It was always the little folk that interested me: not the giants. Being a giant, probably didn’t enter my head. I think I wanted a big doll’s house and never got one – don’t know why, though it would have been about space, I’m sure. From the age of four I was brought up in my grandmother’s house that only had two bedrooms so my parents slept on a pull-out bed in the living room; apparently this was how most people lived in the 50s. In my mind the giant in my life then was that grandmother; I have since written about her as a dragon and an ogre. The other side of the story was that she was very good to us but a dangerous woman to cross, old and crabbit, and guilty of whacking us on the arse with the coal shovel if we were late, or cheeky…or anything.

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