I’m Chris Sutton. Although the name on my birth certificate says Mary Christine Sutton, no one has ever called me anything but Chris, except for Mum, who always called me CHRISTINE on a rising inflection whenever I was in deep doo-doo, which was often.
I was born in Lancashire, England, with a combined heritage of working class cotton weavers and middle class managers and civil servants. My parents were ten pound poms in 1958, thank God. I have been an educator, learning and learning designer and publisher since 1962, but before that, from as soon as I could string together a sentence and hold a pencil I have been a storyteller, writer, editor and publisher. For that I can thank my grandmother and her son.
My grandmother, Nanny Leah, and I shared a very special relationship. A small, round woman with white hair and blue eyes that twinkled with humour and life, she was my best friend, my ally, my heroine and my protector. She would say; “Darling, you and I get on so well together because we have an enemy in common!”
My Nanny Leah taught to me to cook, to knit and to embroider. While we worked together in the kitchen or sewed in the parlour, she told me tales of my father’s childhood, my great grandparents’ lives and her peccadilloes as a girl and a young woman. She took to me to visit her sisters – ‘The Aunts’. We would walk across Avenham Park, over the Tramway bridge and along the river bank to Penwortham for tea with her sisters, in the house that had been in the family for almost a century, the Mayor home. There I learned my family stories. No, I lived them. I know where my love of good food, good wine, good stories, fabric arts and animals comes from. It’s all in the stories.
My father was a great spinner of yarns. Almost every spare minute of his day was spent telling tales or reading stories, most of them out loud to my brother and me. I understand where my need to read and to recount my stories and those of others originated. I wish he’s had the confidence to write them all down.
Thanks to these two creative, loving people, I know where I have come from, therefore, I know who I am and where I am going.