“Joy” Annual 2
I remember one summer snuggling up in a pup tent pitched on the prickly lawn in front of our house and sniffing the inky pages of The Goal Keeper’s Revenge by Bill McNaughton. This was a book of stories. I still remember in one of the stories a description of a dark, bony figure cast against the evening skies. He’s a tinker boy, good at fighting. I felt I knew that boy from my own experiences play-fighting the other kids in our street.
There was another boy I knew even better – a German boy my own age in Emil and the Detectives by Eric Kastner. Emil accepts chocolate from a stranger aboard a train. He falls asleep, and the stranger steals money from his pocket meant for his grandmother. Emil wakes up in time to see the thief disappearing in the crowd at the railway station. He gives chase and is befriended by some street kids who take up the job of getting his money back. I loved that story. The book lived under my bed for several years. I would reach for it whenever I was sick. And even though I knew the outcome, it didn’t make any difference. I read for the book’s company and for the return trips it offered to a city on the other side of the world. All I had to do was turn to the first page of Emil and the Detectives.
I also loved playing sport. I liked the feeling of my body doing physical activities. Whenever I read, I felt another part of me was being exercised and was growing, and looking back, I realise it was my mind and my imagination. Now I see that those things were just as important as the limbs I used for running and swimming and climbing.