When I was a young boy, I tended to see myself as puny, wished I was larger, stronger, more capable of standing up to the bullying world I inhabited. In retrospect, I wasn’t as diminutive as I imagined, but, correctly or incorrectly, our brains tell us what our eyes see and the malformations of self-perception loom.
In the midst of those formative years, I saw a movie, Wee Geordie, about an undersized Scottish lad who built himself into a behemoth through years of diligent exercise. Geordie went on to win an Olympic gold medal in the hammer throw. The movie, a thunderbolt to my heart, touched my uneasy sensibilities. I loved it. From my late teens through my thirties, I worked dedicatedly to building strength. To this day, at eighty, my exercise regimen includes resistance training.
For reasons unclear to me at the moment, I recently thought of the movie, recalling the joy it brought me at a time of self-doubt, found myself wondering if it was based on a book. It was. A brief online search revealed Geordie, a novel, was written in 1950 by a Scottish writer, David Walker. I knew I wanted to read it. More research revealed several copies were available through Biblio, a British seller of antiquated books. With the help of my considerably more computer savvy son, a copy was procured at a reasonable price. The first edition copy arrived in far better condition than I’d anticipated by Biblio’s description, down to an intact original dust jacket.
All that aside, I read the story (192 pages) in two days, the book even more enjoyable, more moving than my memory of the movie. More than the unidimensional, triumph-of-might tale I recalled, Geordie was (is) an almost magical love story, the love propelled and enabled by Geordie remaining true to himself despite worldly temptation.
Sound like a fairy tale? In some ways it came close. Today, it would probably be viewed as a YA novel, although I would demur in that categorization. I found the author’s deceptively simple writing almost poetically beautiful, his control of the story he wrote masterful.
The wonder of books! How lucky I am!