The Prescotian Webzine

I have to confess straight away that I am only a functional reader of hobby magazines, newspapers and the like. I very rarely curl up with a good book, a novel or thriller! I am still grieving for the first complete story book that I read way back in autumn, 1963.

Red Pennons Flying, (Joyce Reason), was a first year English literature book, one of three set for our first “eng lit” exam in December, 1963 along with A Christmas Carol and The Thirty Nine Steps. I had like all newts that year to read all three independently at home while we were introduced to Shakespeare in class lessons through Julius Caesar.

I managed to read two out of the three, failing even to open Buchan’s thriller! However, fates conspired to bring an abridged illustrated version of The Thirty Nine Steps via the newspaper boy three days before the dreaded exam. “Look and Learn”, (my mother’s choice of reading for me after cancelling my weekly Tiger comic), came to my rescue enough for me to blag my way through and get a score of some 62%. I still have my old report book, you see.

Red Pennons Flying was a tale of a young lad press ganged as a cabin boy onto a ship to France in the Middle Ages. He finds himself witnessing the Battle of Agincourt before returning to his father's farm some years later. Not a masterpiece but I really remember enjoying it.

Later years, brought me into contact with other Shakespeare's such as Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V and for GCE 'O' level, (along with Animal Farm and World War One Poetry) Macbeth. I remember as a fifth former being taken to the highly progressive Everyman Theatre to see Macbeth on a school trip. All the actors appeared in black bodysuits and there was no scenery, very confusing for a philistine. In later years, I came to realise that they produced a blank screen for me to superimpose my own images of MacBeth and Banquo et al. I remember as a twenty year old going on a date to see Polanski’s MacBeth and hating it. Perhaps, Polanski stopped me imposing my vision!

It was as a 22 year old that I then read my first paperback from cover to cover by my own choice and what a choice I made. ‘Papillion’ by Henri Charriere was not only overlong but made me wish that he would never finally succeed in escaping from Devil's Island, but I was determined to finish one book and strode on manfully to the end.

So why have I let you into my literary desert? I hanker after reading ‘Red Pennons Flying’ again but nobody else ever seems to have heard of it in until I went into a second hand bookshop in Tintern, who found out its real title as opposed to my beleif that it was called Red Pennants Flying!. Whatever happened to the book? I know that all PGS copies must have been victims of the arson attacks but please somebody re-unite me with my first childhood reading adventure…… I am pleased to report that I have tracked down a copy of the book for sale in.....New Zealand! Should I buy it or will it disappoint me, is it better kept as a golden vision of my past?

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