|Top Withens in the 1920s|
I even had a go at dramatising Wuthering Heights, just for the fun of it. I had a special relationship with Wuthering Heights, and it's one that has never really gone away, even though in all my years of writing radio plays and dramatising classics, the BBC has never, ever let me get my hands on this one. It was my mother's favourite novel. When I was just a little girl, she and my father had taken the bus to Haworth and trundled me over the moors in my push-chair, as far as Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse which was said to be the place, although not the building, which Emily had in mind for the Heights.
It was while I was at Edinburgh University that I wrote poetry. Lots of it. And stories and reviews and parodies. Between lectures we would sit in the basement cafe of the David Hume Tower in George Square, setting the world to rights and making plans for the future. We girls wore long skirts and maxi coats, bells around our necks, flowers in our hair - the guys were in old army greatcoats or shaggy, smelly, Afghan jackets and bell bottom trousers. We listened to Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell on the Juke Box and smoked Gauloises, a little self consciously. One of the bookstores in the town was such a hotbed of another kind of smoking altogether that you couldn't browse there for more than half an hour without feeling light-headed. Outside the Fine Art department, beautiful Ian Charleson held court, admired as much by men as by women. There was a sit-in in the old Quad. I was there, but can't for the life of me remember what we were protesting about.
|With John Schofield, Brian McCabe and Andy Greig among others!|
Much later, I would use some of these experiences to describe Kirsty's time in Edinburgh in Bird of Passage. She wasn't me, but I can tell you that I saw her one day, sitting with a friend, in a cafe, not far from the university, saw her in her long Indian cotton skirts, which I sometimes wore too, with her long red hair (mine was much darker) remembered her for thirty years afterwards, and eventually put her in a novel which also, oddly enough, turned out to be a homage to Wuthering Heights.
Meanwhile, I had also gone back to writing radio drama. But that will have to wait for next week's episode.