Saturday, May 2, 2020

All About the Books

As April settled in and the lockdown began to bite, I found myself desperate for an unchanging world where everyone knows their place, a gentleman's wardrobe is impeccable, butlers butle efficiently and there is a definitive ending where the bad person Gets Their Comeuppance.

So I turned, with a deep sigh of relief, to Dorothy L Sayers. Oh, she is magnificent and Wimsy is a delight...
"'Well! Consider first of all the anomaly of the man who buys his razor from Endicott's and yet wears the regrettable shoes and mass-production millinery found on the corpse. Mind you," added Wimsey, "it is not a question of expense, exactly. The shoes are hand-made - which merely proves that a dancer has to take care of his feet. But could a man who is shaved by Endicott possibly order - deliberately order - shoes of that colour and shape? A thing imagination boggles at."
'I'm afraid,' admitted Harriet, 'that I've never managed to learn all the subtle rules and regulations about male clothing. That's why I made Robert Templeton one of those untidy dressers.'
'Robert Templeton's clothes have always pained me...'"

I also attempted a modern-day crime, a rare foray for me. A Mankell, in fact. I don't get it. I don't get why there is so much fuss over this dour man with his complete lack of sympathy, manners or charm. What disconcerted me even more was the fact that the plot line pivoted around Jim Jones and the Jonestown massacre. Not a comfortable read. 

So I shifted my gaze to Lucy Mangan's wonderful Bookworm. An exploration of childhood reading and growing up, navigating the changing childhood world via books. I laughed out loud, I remembered authors and books I'd read but long forgotten, I ordered some via Hive, I cried and recognised myself. "I didn't just want to read, I needed to read." Her complete incomprehension in the face of her peers evolving behaviours, the playground politics. The frustration when faced with adults who would peer at her, laugh and say things like "you've always got your nose in a book!" as if it was some massive character flaw. Did Mangan inhabit my childhood as well?

Anyway, that broke my crime run and I settled into the beautifully meditative The Morville Hours, followed by the fascinating Barbara Pym biography and I managed to squeeze in the Half Hour Allotment, which I kind of wish I hadn't. It's so bossy...

On the subject of a place to sit in your allotment? You won't have time! You're only here for 30 minutes! Stop being lazy!
On the notion of planting things you want to experiment with? Don't be stupid! Of course that won't work! What were you thinking?!
On the crazy idea of, you know, just enjoying yourself at the allotment? This isn't for enjoyment! This is serious work! Get to it! Stop malingering! 

Raspberries to that. I will malinger as much as I choose. Right now I'm gliding into May with the Secret Garden, Tom's Midnight Garden and Letters from a Faint-hearted Feminist. I am mostly okay.

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