A lot of the time how you were regarded at Hailsham, how much you were liked and respected, had to do with how good you were at ‘creating’.
Ruth and I often found ourselves remembering these things a few years ago, when I was caring for her down at the recovery centre in Dover.
‘It’s all part of what made Hailsham so special’ she said once. ‘The way we were encouraged to value each other’s work.’
‘True,’ I said. “But sometimes, when I think about the Exchanges now, a lot of it seems a bit odd. The poetry, for instance. I remember we were allowed to hand in poems, instead of a drawing or a painting. And the strange thing was, we all thought that was fine, we thought that made sense.’
‘Why shouldn’t it? Poetry’s important.’
‘But we’re talking about nine-year-old stuff, funny little lines, all misspelt, in exercise books. We’d spend our precious tokens on an exercise book full of stuff rather than on something really nice for around our beds. If we were so keen on a person’s poetry, why didn’t we just borrow it and copy it down ourselves any old afternoon? But you remember how it was. An Exchange would come along and we’d be standing there torn between Susie K.’s poems and those giraffes Jackie used to make.’
‘Jackie’s giraffes,’ Ruth said with a laugh. ‘They were so beautiful. I used to have one.’
page15 Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Some books just take a while. This one's been siting by my bed since Christmas 2006. I ignored it, but Flu has come to our home and forced me into my bed and the book took its chance, broke out of its pile and got right deep under my skin into my soul. Highly recommeded. Joanna