The second part of Paula Knight’s guest piece, originally written for Forbidden Planet International in December 2017. Part I can be found here and Part III will appear in the next few days.
Music and art have always played an important part in my life, so it was inevitable that references to other people’s creative output would be part of my memoir. Their inclusion became an important part of the storytelling. Not having the money to pay for expensive song lyric permissions was tricky, so I had to find creative ways to include songs without encountering copyright issues. Songs that were in the charts during my formative years helped to shape the way I felt about having children or not. The first of these sowed the seeds of a fear of accidental pregnancy long into my twenties: ‘Too Much, Too Young’ by The Specials.
This is a rare occasion where I’d use Google images for drawing ref – I have no idea where Terry Hall hangs out to pap him! I’ll let you into a little secret – apparently Top of the Pops didn’t ever broadcast the whole song with the end line: ‘Should have worn a cap instead’. I suppose reference to contraception was clearly too risqué for them, what with people from the 70s not having sex… Or maybe TOTPs had a pronatal broadcast policy at the time – don’t tell them about contraception or they’ll stop having babies and we’ll lose our Playschool audience! So, I must have heard the whole song elsewhere. Alternatively, learning the fact as an adult had somehow attached to the childhood memory in my brain. Such is the way with writing memoir – the author’s truth is the subjective truth.
The music references played an important part in my book on many levels: To help illustrate a particular era; to reflect cultural attitudes towards motherhood and childlessness; and, listening to the music of my youth in the early writing stages helped to access cobwebby memories. I’ve made a Youtube playlist of all the music references in my book, for anyone who cares to delve into the minutiae.
This is rather embarrassing, but I was thirteen years old when Never Been to Me, by Charlene, was in the charts. Looking back, the song contains some of the most pronatal lyrics I’ve ever heard. And I desperately wanted Charlene’s flicky hair. Because I liked the song at such a delicate formative age, it must surely have had some kind of subconscious influence over a fear of ending up childless and lonely. It’s an assumption I wanted to challenge in this book – culture and media are often pervasive in their influence and can infuse the collective consciousness. Soon afterwards, I was heavily into Bob Dylan, so all was well…
This article was originally written as a guest feature for the Forbidden Planet International blog and was published here on 18 December 2017. Part I can be found here and Part III will follow on this site in the next few days.
Tickets for our event on Paula Knight’s The Facts of Life on 14th February 2018 are available on Eventbrite and will feature a short video introduction and Q&A conducted over video link with Paula herself, followed by two speakers who will discuss the formal aspects of the graphic novel and psychological aspects of fertility.
Helpful resources are listed below.
Miscarriage and Infertility
The Miscarriage Association
Phone: 01924 200799
Phone: 0800 0147 800
Phone: 0845 293 8027
Fertility Network UK
Phone: 01424 732361