Have you ever found yourself watching an old film on the television and thinking: “I’ve seen this before but I don’t know when.”
Or: “I am sure this film is taken from a book but I don’t remember reading it.”
Over the past 20 years more and more films have been resurrected to fill space on channels desperate to attract new viewers.
At one time you read a book or you watched a film or you watched a tv series of a book you might have once read.
I am a great fan of Alec Guinness and a few years ago I spotted an old 1950s film he starred in with Bette Davis called The Scapegoat.
It hadn’t been on for long when I got that feeling of familiarity.
The film was made in 1959 and, although my father used to take us to the pictures on a Friday night, it was not the sort of film that would have appealed at the time.
Once a film had done the cinematic rounds in those days it would be many years before it might end up on tv.
The basic premise of the story is that Guinness’s English character meets his French double while on holiday .
They spend the night drinking and telling stories of their lives. The following morning the Englishman finds himself alone in a hotel room with just the clothes and belongings of his French double.
You can probably guess where the story is leading. The point is I knew the characters and what they would do. I even knew there would be a scene with him walking across broken glass in the factory of his doppelganger.
It was quite a time before I realised when and where I had come across the story before.
In a book belonging to my parents.
The book was a Reader’s Digest Condensed Novel. RD used to publish four or five books in a single volume initially released four times a year but eventually every two months.
We must have had 20 or 30 of the books and I used to read them right through even the ones that were really terrible.
This was one I had read when I was about 10 or 11 and was written by Daphne du Maurier.
I thought back to those books and remember the array in the bookcase.
With four or five condensed books in each volume there must have been well over 100 stories and at some point I read them all.
There were many well-known writers there and probably many more who may not have written again after this single tale.
Another I remember was a strange one called “This is Goggle” with a sub title about educating father or something similar.
It was the tale of an American boy who was five when his father went to war in the 40s and 10 when he returned.
During those years the boy, Goggle, had come to see himself as the man of the house and when his father returned they both had to adjust in a postwar world.
Not the most brilliant book I have read but the message it held was very deep.
I don’t know what happened to those books. They did not become part of my “library” and probably ended up at a charity shop.
I hope others got to enjoy them.