Milky memories – a Q&A with Sara Sheridan

It’s two weeks now since we told our 26 writers which objects from the exhibition we wanted them to write about. We checked in with one of them, best-selling Scottish novelist Sara Sheridan, to see how she’s getting on, and to ask a few nosy questions about her own childhood.

What object are you writing about and what were your first thoughts when we told you?

Children line up for their daily dose of the white gold

It’s a mini milk bottle and I was delighted. I remember the free milk scheme vividly – especially the green plastic crates the milk arrived in… odd!

What lost object from your own childhood would you like to own again, and why?

I don’t have a lost object but I do have lost people. I’d love to go back and meet some of them again – a second cousin of my mother’s who used to tell amazing stories and Ina Pleitch, who looked after us twice a week (she was a bright shiny star).

Hop into our time machine and it will take to you back to one specific hour of your childhood – where and when do you want to go, and why?

I’d love to go back and explain some of the difficult and complicated issues in my family. I have a close and crazy family and as a kid it was endlessly bemusing. I think I’d visit myself on my 14th birthday, so I could explain. At 14 I’d be old enough to understand and young enough for the information to make a difference. So 7 June 1982 at 7am (right before breakfast). Perfect.

Can you surprise me with one unusual fact about your childhood?

Nothing, of course, seemed unusual at the time but we did live next door to a silent order nunnery. The nuns used to slip us sweeties and let us visit their chapel. I remember thinking that it smelled of, well, nuns. As a teenager I was convinced our house was haunted by angry nuns. Odd kid. [Ed: yes, that surprised me]

What’s the earliest thing you can remember writing?

I remember writing Christmas cards in my bedroom and getting told off by my father for being up too late. “But I’m writing one for you, Daddy,” I tried. I don’t think he fell for that.

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