Ohhh I have been having way too much fun amassing my vintage book collection recently.
This is still one of my most favourite books ever and I’m delighted to say that I bought it only last week on eBay.
I have incredibly happy memories of reading this book in the attic in my parents East London home when I was about nine or ten; not in the cold spidery dark as it might sound, but with the sun’s rays blasting through the attic windows in the most beautiful manner, creating a warm tranquil glow.
When we were children, my siblings and I were given a couple of large bin liners of children’s books from another family whose children had outgrown them. I always did love to read anyway but around that time I’d suffered an almost serious accident on the back of my father’s Honda riding to school. I’d received stitches on my ankle and had to be pushed around in a wheelchair for about six weeks and then on crutches for a while.
Funnily, I do recall being told kindly but quite firmly, I was not to become dependant on the crutches if I was to learn to walk properly again on my wounded foot.
My father was devastated, he hadn’t done anything to cause the accident at all but still felt terrible, but once I got past the fear of having to go to the hospital (I’d convinced myself that an almost severed tendon wouldn’t need seeing to!) it all felt rather like an adventure. Especially as in A&E (then known as Casualty), we met a young woman in her late twenties, who had stuck a gardening fork in her Wellingtons through to her foot while digging the soil. She thought what she’d done was hilarious and I remember being pleased for her magnanimity while thinking, ‘Phew, thank goodness that’s not what’s happened to me!!’
So I think it was around this time we received the bags of books.
Normally I loved to be outside playing with my best friend and her sisters and it was very difficult now for me to join in with any normal outdoor games. We were especially keen on skipping games, hula hooping and spinning round and round until we were so dizzy we would stagger aimlessly at top speed and would crash into something and go flying onto the grass.
We also adored imagining we were on adventures in another country, like Arabia. We were Princesses riding on galloping Stallions in the desert with our hair flowing in the wind or explorers or detectives tracking criminal archaeologists stealing treasure.
So it’s not difficult to see why we all loved Shazzan the Genie so much! If I couldn’t play outside, I could read about adventures instead and that went for my friends too. It was a time of uninhibited adventure, a time in the absence of multiple electronic and digital media overload, of true mental and imaginary freedom.
There were so many brilliant books in those bags given to us, but out of all of them Shazzan was and still is my favourite of them all and besides, who doesn’t like a genie?