My old book: Lilian Greenwood MP

Written by Lilian Greenwood MP on 15 November 2012 in Culture
Culture
Why I love Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome

This article is from the November 2012 issue of Total Politics

Since I was 10, I have yearned for the life of an Amazon pirate – not one of the Captain Jack Sparrow variety, but that of the intrepid sisters Peggy and Nancy Blackett. Together with the Swallows, they sailed, camped and adventured around the Lake District, free from all parental supervision. As the Swallows’ father writes in his telegram to their mother in the opening chapter: ‘BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN (sic).’
I’m not sure what lured me into the world of the Swallows and Amazons, a 1920s world so very different from my own, but it was reading this book, with its maps and pictures, that gave me a thirst for the great outdoors. Initially, this involved building dens and campfires with my brothers in the woods near our house and arguing with my mum when she wouldn’t let me and my best friend sleep out in a tent. Later I actually tried my hand at sailing, swimming and hill-walking in the very places the Blacketts loved, and when my own daughters were old enough, I took them scrambling up the fells, even dressing them in red hats in homage to my childhood role models.
It’s thanks to this book that I always feel a thrill arriving in the Lakes, and a wrench when I leave the fells behind.
Lilian Greenwood is MP for Nottingham South

Tags: Issue 52, Life, Lilian Greenwood MP, My old book, Swallows and Amazons

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