Saturday, 7 January 2017

Book problems.

As a rule, on a Saturday I stomp along to the local supermarket, stock up on this and that, so that I can feed the family when they turn up for Sunday tea, and then catch the bus home in time to skim through the newspaper. Having stocked up the other day, however, today was the day when I was going to tidy the kitchen, read the paper peacefully, and in a bit more depth, for a while and then do a variety of other things that have been on the list for rather too long.

Apart from a cursory tidy-up of the kitchen this did not happen. Instead I spent a good three hours moving books around. This too has been on my list for far too long but it was not on the do-today list. How did this happen? Well, thereby hangs a tale.

I belong to a reading group that meets once a month in a pub in Manchester. It's a nice occasion to meet old friends, talk about the chosen book and have a general chinwag about all sorts of stuff. Earlier in the week I had mentioned to Phil that I had ordered the January book, Diary of a Nobody, from the local library. He informed me that we have a copy, which I vaguely thought was the case but as I had not spotted it in the appropriate place on the shelf I could not face hunting through the stacks of out-of-place books we have around the place.

This morning he asked if I had located it. I commented that I had no idea where to start looking. So he decided to help. This meant removing from the shelves piles of books that have been placed willy-nilly in front of other books and putting them on the sofa. It was at that point that we realised that we were both visualising a completely different book.

In my head, it was a paperback copy, an old Penguin, the price of which, when I eventually located it, was the grand total of £1.95! Oh, to be ableto buy books for such a price now. The book Phil remembered, on the other hand, was a hardback, which he claimed to have given me for Christmas or a birthday some years ago. I have no recollection of this (old age and decrepitude on my part or false memory syndrome on his?) but thanked him profusely for the delightful gift when he located it. It is illustrated by Paul Hogarth, whom wikipedia describes as having a "distant connection" to William Hogarth, he of Rake's Progress fame!

At almost the same moment, from separate rooms in the house, Phil and I gave a cry of "Got it!". Neither of us had any memory of the copy the other had found. My paperback copy has illustrations by Weedon Grossmith, brother of George of that name, with whom he co-wrote the book. The illustrations in the hardback copy are, it has to be said, far superior and are in colour rather than in black and white. When I attend the reading group, I shall have to take both copies along so that all can admire the beauty of the hardback.

This is not the first time we have found that we have a hardback copy of a book previously purchased in paperback. Phil went through a phase of buying "beautiful copies" of books he had enjoyed. Maybe this was a kind of nostalgia for the books he did not receive as a child but would have liked copes of. Who knows? This happens less frequently now as we are in danger of disappearing under piles of books! He is far more likely to buy to Kindle! However, the discussion about which is preferable, kindle or proper books, is not for today.

Anyway, having located the books, I was left with a sofa covered in heaps of books. And so books that had been removed from high shelves and never restored to their place were duly sorted. Inevitably this involved some rearranging of the books still there but in the end places were found for most of them and the double-shelving was reduced to a minimum. There are still the books in piles in the attic bedroom which need sorting but that is another story. And a task for another day.

I am unsure whether climbing up and down stepladders counts as proper exercise. If so, I have done plenty today. And I feel very virtuous, of course. Now, I shall return to my newspaper. The other tasks on the list will have to wait. Besides, I have The Diary of a Nobody to reread and think about!

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