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India Millar

I took early retirement from the wonderful British Library in 2005.Although I loved working at the Library, and (nearly always!) loved my job as Contracts Manager (my most illustrious client? Without doubt the late Nelson Mandela. Although I also helped the Library acquire Jane Austen´s writing desk and spectacles, and numerous unique treasures). But we had a holiday home here on Spain´s equally wonderful Costa Blanca, and the sun-sun-sun lifestyle beckoned .... and won! We love it here, and - although all our friends insisted we would be bored - it has taken me 8 years to find the time to do what I have always wanted to achieve; to become a published writer.
Am I happy? Oh, yes!
But to take a step back; I was a child of the 50´s; born and bred in Leeds in England´s industrial West Yorkshire. Years later, I realised I lived in a slum for the first 16 years of my life; traditional "back to back, 2 up 2 down" terraces (don´t know what one of those is? If you´re aged under 60, I don´t imagine you will. A "back to back" was, literally, 2 terraces of houses built together, so the back wall of one was also the back wall of another. And 2 up 2 down? Literally 1 room downstairs, that doubled as living room and dining room, together with a kitchen, and 2 bedrooms upstairs.). No bathroom. No indoor toilet (that was down the street away, and take your own toilet paper). No hot water. A Saturday bath was in a portable tin bath on the kitchen floor, filled from the copper. A real treat was a visit to the local swimming baths, which also had private cubicles with a real bath in them. With hot water!

Why didn't´t I know I lived in a slum? Because we all did, of course, We were all poor, so it didn't´t matter. When I was 16, we moved to a council house. With a bathroom. Hot water! And indoor toilet! Paradise! And how did all this influence how I write? Simple. My father died when I was 8. My mother got a widow´s pension of 10 shillings (fifty new pence) a week, to support both of us. She also had 3 jobs; literally, day, evening and week-ends. So I spent much of my time out of school in the safety of our local library, and I learned to love books. The sight of them. The smell of them. And - of course - the words they contained. They were my first love, and will be my last. I read and read and read. Anything. And the determination grew that one day I would also be a demi-god who would put words on the page, and give enjoyment to somebody else who, like me, had nothing else in their lives but words. And now I have. Am I not lucky?

 

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