From a childhood of gothic proportions in a vicarage on the Welsh borders, through adolescence, leaving herself teetering on the brink of the 1960's, Lorna Sage vividly and wittily brings to life a vanished time and place and illuminates the lives of three generations of women. Lorna Sage's memoir of childhood and adolescence is a brilliantly written bravura piece of work, which vividly and wickedly brings to life her eccentric family and somewhat bizarre upbringing in the small town of Hanmer, on the border between Wales and Shropshire. The period as well as the place is evoked with crystal clarity: from the 1940s, dominated for Lorna by her dissolute but charismatic vicar grandfather, through the 1950s, where the invention of fish fingers revolutionised the lives of housewives like Lorna's mother, to the brink of the 1960s, where the community was shocked by Lorna's pregnancy at 16, an event which her grandmother blamed on 'the fiendish invention of sex'. Bad Blood is often extremely funny, and is at the same time a deeply intelligent insight by a unique literary stylist into the effect on three generations of women of their environment and their relationships.… (more)
Grandfather's skirts would flap in the wind along the churchyard path and I would hang on.
`One day in a grammar school maths lesson I got into a crying jag over the notion of minus numbers. Minus one threw out my universe, it couldn't exist, I couldn't understand it. This, I realised tearfully, under coaxing from an amused (and mildly amazed) teacher, was because I thought numbers were *things*. In fact, cabbages. We'd been taught in Miss Myra's class to do addition and subtraction by imagining more cabbages and fewer cabbages. Every time I did mental arithmetic I was juggling ghostly vegetables in my head. And when I tried to think of minus one I was trying to imagine an anti-cabbage, an anti-matter cabbage, which was as hard as conceiving of an alternative universe.
I'm not sure what the moral of the bathroom-stool story is. Perhaps this:it's a good idea to settle for a few loose ends, because even if everything in your life is connected to everything else, that way madness lies.
In one of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent years, Lorna Sage brings alive her girlhood in post-war provincial Britain. From memories of her family and the wounds they inflict upone one another, she tells a tale of thwarted love, failed religion and the salvation she found in books.