Where is the excitement in that?
Now books are a whole other kettle of fish. Unless I’ve sneaked a look at the last page, I have no idea how the characters develop, what hoops the author makes them jump through and how the tale ends, whether happily or, as they deserve, miserably and in tatters. (Oh, I love a good comeuppance, don’t you?)
Books, I’ve loved them all my life.
When I was a skinny beanpole of eight or nine, who, acc. to my aunt, could have done with some serious feeding up, I once pestered my mum so persistently to buy me a couple of books from a second hand stall, that she actually softened and spent that day’s dinner money on them. We were very poor then. “Your Dad will kill me”, she said several times on the way home. In the end she didn’t tell him and dinner that day plumbed new depths of inventiveness.
From when I was about ten, twelve years old, books were all I ever asked for. When asked , “and what present did you have for your birthday, Christmas, whenever?”, the answer was a jubilant “books”, or a sad and dejected “clothes”. One Christmas I remember, to my shame, going so far as to recite the titles of all the books I’d asked for and been given and then telling people the cost. “Books for one hundred marks”, a lot of money then.
The aunts were disgusted. “Send her out to play; no wonder she’s as pale as cheese, crouching over her books all the time. It’s unnatural!”
Books were my world. I read not only children’s stories but anything I could get my hands on. I lived the adventures, travelled to distant places, learned about geography and history, read stories about strange cultures, read children’s classics and the greatest rubbish printed. I swallowed it all.
Books have always been a treat; frequently indulged in when there was time and sneaked in guiltily when there wasn’t. For years I had a book in the desk at my office, open; if anyone came in, I unhurriedly shut the drawer, smiling innocently at my visitor. I preferred long journeys to work on the Underground, particularly, if I had been fortunate to grab a seat. There was a lot less free reading time at work or at home.
During some rather dark years reading was my only solace. The children were very good, they were allowed to stay up in the evening until it was their generously extended bedtime, if they promised to spend the time quietly in their rooms, with their own books and music, while I lay, face down, on the sitting room carpet, reading. I must have read every thriller published in the English language in those years, too tired to read anything more demanding.
Now that I have all the reading time I want, I write and blog, inventing stories nobody will ever read about characters nobody could ever be interested in. As for blogging? Is there a greater waste of reading time? (Oops, I wonder if anybody has got as far as this?)
In winter, when snow and ice keep us indoors, what could be cosier than sitting reading, curled up on the sofa? In summer, is there anything more soothing than lying on a chair in the garden, sipping a lemonade and slowly turning the pages of your chosen book, while bees and insects busy themselves around you.
I am writing this in my favourite room in the house, my study, two walls of which consist entirely of bookshelves filled with my own books; Beloved’s shelves are elsewhere. My study smells of books, the dry, dusty, slightly mouldy and mildewy smell of a lot of books together, mixed with a little leftover incense. Spring is around the corner and I shall soon have to appear, blinking, into the sunlight, much like my aunt recommended all those years ago.
Where’s that garden chair?