Commuting, reading paperbacks, watching what everyone else was reading. Quite a few of us were absorbed in life at Barbary Lane, San Francisco. Oh to have a landlady like Mrs Madrigal with her love of herbal remedies. How could Mary-Ann do that to Brian and of course – Michael Mouse. Who didn’t love Michael? When I heard many years later that Armistead Maupin was writing another episode in the series, my heart, like may others I imagine, skipped a beat. Surely Michael would still be okay? Many characters died along the way but we needed Michael to survive and I’m guessing that’s why Maupin titled the book ‘Michael Tolliver Lives’ – to reassure us from the outset. Great characters endure, they do live. I’m sure that if I’m ever in San Fran, I’ll bump into Michael and we’ll chat like old friends. That’s my fantasy anyway
Although I kept a diary throughout my teenage years (and therefore know that TH loved JD – even though I have noooo idea who they are now), I didn’t write about my favourite books very often. I do remember my late teens; they were mainly taken up with reading books from the school curriculum. Like many, I studied Jane Austen and Keats. I loved Keats but wasn’t really a fan of Mr Darcy et al. The literature that really captured my imagination and my heart was french literature. I read L’assomoir at the age of 17 and was blown away. It has the honour of being the first book ever to make me cry. I still remember the pit pony being brought to the surface after a lifetime of being underground. He smelt fresh grass and briefly recalled it before dying. Ah! Tears are forming even now! I read more and more Zola sometimes yelling out to the characters as they were about to make life-changing mistakes. It was never a happy read with Zola but boy was it powerful.