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Friday, 28 June 2013

The written word

The cottage is packed with books, books collected over years, perhaps. Have they all been read or are they just books bought in antiquarian bookshops that would look good on the shelves. The scary thing is that I have a feeling that they have all been read. Our friends are academics, much more cultured than I could ever hope to be. The books are categorised into their own corners of culture. In the front room there are three separate sets of shelves,  one has a library of books on cricket and above this shelf, poets and poetry, the complete works of Robert Frost.  The only thing I know about Robert Frost is a mention of him in a Simon and Garfunkel song called the “Dangling conversation” on Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme. I remember thinking way back in 67 that I had a lot of catching up to do when it came to American poets, but it wasn’t until now, in 2013 that I’ve ever seen a book of his poems, and even now I’ve only glanced the spline of the collected works on the bookshelf.
On another bookcase there are books about music, books about Wagner and Mozart, and many other composers that I’m sure I should have read, but haven’t.  There is another bookshelf in the same room about wildlife and nature, birds plants, travels in the Gobi  Desert . The next bookshelf has classic literature like Homers Iliad. I took this one off the shelf thinking I should check this out as it’s supposed to be famous. It’s an antique copy from perhaps the 1920’s and browsed the first page, the instructions to the reader. Now the first thing that put me off was that it was printed in a font that was about four point. By the end of the first page I was at a loss to tell you what I had read. I turned to the first verse of     Homers rantings and gave up after the first few lines, and put it back on the shelf. The idea of being cultured was fast retreating from my 21st century mind. Have our friends actually read all this stuff, is this what you have to plough through to be cultured and informed. To me it was just hard work and so I put it back on the shelf.
Upstairs in the back bedroom is a bookshelf full of science fiction, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke, and a few other authors I should have read. I haven’t. Another bookcase, this one full of stuff about Naval history, or at least novels about Naval histories.  I should read these, there just may be some insights that I can use when we get round to buying our boat and exploring the Caribbean, but I very much doubt I’ll get round to it.
In fact I don’t suppose I’ll get round to reading any of this library before we go. I tried the Woody Guthrie, “Bound for Glory” tonight but I’m finding it hard going. I really think I should know much more about the guy that inspired Bob Dylan but I don’t think I’ll get much further with it. I know I should, but I know I won’t.  But I keep dipping into this archive, this collection of culture that I missed, that I should have paid attention too in my last sixty five years, but I was distracted by rock n roll, cannabis and the Apprentice. Perhaps I would now be a wiser and more rounded individual, had I been exposed to this literature. Or maybe not.

After all, each of these books is simply an adventure that some individual or other has been on, in their time. The truth is that we all have our own adventures.