In 1989, I finished my ‘A’ level English Language and Literature. I chose this ‘A’ level, or rather was given this ‘A’ level to complement the double ‘A’ level I was taking in ‘Music’. In fact, I had originally chosen to do ‘A’ level ‘Theatre Studies’ at first, but a timetable clash halted my dramatic career then and there. As a consequence, ‘English’ was not my first love as a subject and I was not always fully motivated during lessons, which of course I now regret. I do however remember all of the set texts:E.M Forster ‘A Passage to India’, Thomas Keneally ‘Schindler’s Ark’, Chaucer ‘The Wife of Bath’ and John Fowles ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’.
About 10 years ago, whilst covering an English lesson for an absent colleague in the secondary school where I was head of Music , I came across a book on one of the shelves: ‘The Collector’ by John Fowles. I read the back of the book and the subject intrigued me, also I was familiar with the author from my ‘A’ level studies, so I took it home and read it. At that moment I started to read novels again. My first point of call and one that I return to, was the novels of John Fowles. After reading the genuinely shocking novel ‘The Collector’ I then bought, what has to be, my favourite novel of all time: ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles. I am not going to attempt a plot description for you here, only to say that it is a wonderfully descriptive book, which takes you on a fantastic journey and will remain in your mind. It is certainly a book that I have returned to on a couple of occasions, most recently at the end of last year. Of course John Fowles has written a number of other books too which I have also read, I am currently reading ‘the Journals, volume 1’, which is a well written collection of the author’s diary entries ranging from his last year in Oxford to relocating to his home in Lyme Regis, setting of ‘the French Lieutenant’s Woman’. I do wonder if I hadn’t taken English ‘A’ level if I would be concerned that much with reading novels now? That day 10 years ago when I discovered ‘The Collector’, would I have even bothered picking it up, let alone taking it home to read? Who knows? But I’m glad I did!