The Book Detectives

I pride myself on having a good memory, but I know I’m deluding myself to some extent. At least that kind of self-awareness may have saved me from some embarrassment as I’ve been trying to recall events from my childhood for my new book. Along the way, I seem to have recruited a band of enthusiastic detectives who have helped me fill gaps in my memories or, in some cases, replace those false memories with actual facts.

Among those helpful sleuths have been old school pals who helped me pin down the name of a young music teacher who fell victim to my clumsiness in a way you’ll have to read the book to understand.  I realised I had mixed up her name with the that of the English teacher who helped us set up the school magazine.

Then there was the lovely townspeople of Carnoustie who rushed to my assistance on the ‘Our Carnoustie’ Facebook site when I had trouble identifying the locations pictured in some old family holiday snaps.  The photographs were more than fifty years old, but eagle-eyed followers were still able to distinguish the paddling pool pavilion at Carnoustie from a similar one that once stood in Arbroath.

The lockdown of libraries over the summer months was particularly frustrating as I tried to discover the location of my family’s home in Glasgow before we all moved to Easterhouse. No amount of Googling could help me find Forest Street, but the online staff at Glasgow City Archives pointed me to some old maps and suggested I try a different spelling. Sure enough, there was the now demolished Forrest Street in the old Calton area. That extra ‘r’ made all the difference.

Had the libraries been open, I would have been able to look at old telephone and post office directories to make a list of every neighbour we had in the square at Corsehill Street. Instead, I relied on the more reliable memory of my big sister Rose, who features a lot in the book’s early chapters. While admitting that her artistic skills were somewhat basic, she did draw me a picture of our old three-storey block and list the names of families who lived there. In the picture, she drew us both leaning out of the window, with me uttering the words; “I don’t want to be a nun!”

If you want to know what that’s about then, you’ve guessed it, you’ll have to read the book. It’s out next month so not long to wait.

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