How Green You Are! and The Making of Fingers Finnigan are companion books. They were my first, and began their lives as stories for the radio, (BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Radio Merseyside). Each chapter is a complete short story, building up to a novel. The story chapters are based on my own childhood, growing up in the 1950s in a small seaside town called Hoylake, on the Wirral coast, and each begins with something that really happened, and develops into something that didn’t.
This technique of story-telling, based on memories and make-believe, is what I came to call ‘I remember’ and ‘Let’s pretend’ – the title of my autobiographical chapter in Something About the Author, vol. 16, Gale Press (see my autobiography page).
How Green You Are! tells stories of friendships, rivalries, betrayals, schools, ghosts, street play, all seen through the eyes of Bee. By a strange, perhaps self-conscious twist, although Bee the narrator would seem to be me, I am in fact the shy, convent school character Julie.
It was dedicated to my three children, Janna, Tim and Sally, who were exactly the right age for it at the time.
In The Making of Fingers Finnigan the same children – Julie, Bee, Kevin, Weird George and Marie, try to save the local open-air swimming pool from closure – something which I failed to do in reality.
It was dedicated to my parents, but, sadly, Mum died before the book was published, so she never knew.
Both books were televised on BBC TV Jackanory, a wonderful programme where stories were read out by actors. Nerys Hughes was the reader in both cases.