Updated: Sep 28, 2021
I'd started working on something new for the Autumn when this story came to mind...
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Recently, my Dad came to visit for the first time in nearly a year. He hadn't seen my new house since I'd built it last year, and Daniel had turned 14 and grown about a foot. And while I'd done a lot in the house I still had lots to do, like build new bookshelves for my office.
So we built them together and it was lovely.
If you've ever done this kind of job, you'll know it takes ages. And if you're anything like me and get distracted easily, you'll know it takes even longer.
So as I was putting all the books into place and arranging them by colour to make them look pretty (oh yes I do!) I found myself looking at them individually. A book called Modern Authors which my school friend MC gave me for my 18th birthday - she died 10 years ago - and one from the Guggenheim which I'd visited with my Mum on a trip to New York 20 years ago.
I opened The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter which I hadn't read in nearly 30 years, and started to turn the pages. The smell of paper wafted up and I stuck my nose in and inhaled, and then my eyes flew across the page and the story resonated and I remembered being in my bedroom back in England when I was 19 or 20, home from university and cosy in bed, reading and loving Angela Carter who was recommended to me by Nicole in my English Lit class.
I remembered eating up Jeanette Winterson's The Passion in a single day and moving on to Margaret Atwood...just lying there in bed with my nose in a book and the North Staffs hills framed in the window...
And then Dad interrupted my reverie, asking if I wanted a cup of tea. So I put The Bloody Chamber on its new shelf and had tea and chats with Dad.
But it made me think...
Time passes and it's just a book, right? Some pages with words on, between two covers. Sitting slim and quiet on a shelf for 30 years.
Except it's not that. It's so much more.
It's multiple worlds and lifetimes and visions and memories. The writer's, the story's, and mine. It shouted at me from the rafters then and changed my perspective, my view of the world and probably how I moved in it as a young woman. It shaped my thinking. It's not modern now of course, but it isn't out of date, it still feels current and relevant and powerful.
Which makes it timeless, really.
And that's what I'm thinking now. In spite of so much change, especially in the last 18 months, books are timeless...
And that's a gorgeous and reassuring thing.
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