Monthly Archives: May 2011
Paperback. Hardback. Fiction. Nonfiction. Old. New. Short. Long. Happy. Sad.
Genre genre genre.
Fingers reach out to turn the glacier brass door knob. A gentle nudge and an old oak door groans open. It is a circular, life affirming space. Books upon books upon books. Volumes disappear into a ceiling-less infinity, studded with stars. A sanctuary of whispered words. Sacred. Holy. This is my church.
Hungry hands slide over dusty shelves, fingertips caressing silk. A single finger traces the faded title embossed on the spine of a book, selected at random. Or maybe it has chosen you. Pry the book from between the grasp of its sticky neighbours who sigh in protest at the disturbance of their indefinite hibernation. Feel the weight in your hands. Warming. Heavy. Comforting. The cover. Judge it? Always. Sometimes you are wrong and sometimes you are right. Reader and read consider one another, face to palm, face to face.
How many hands have grazed and gazed at this cover? How many readers have started and abandoned it? Who has adored it, despised it, agonised over it, savoured it, or been utterly indifferent to its secrets? Once read though, books gain power. Each takes a piece of the soul of the book and carries it like a torn page in a back pocket forever.
Smell. Actively. Empty your lungs and inhale. Flick the worn pages and breathe words, wisdom, life into your heart. Sight is superfluous, your nose is perfectly capable of assimilating literature in a litany of smells: musty, dusty (novels as old as grandad), fresh, crisp, clean (just published), perfumed (glossy magazines), starchy stiff (unopened text book), inky (newspapers).
Nestled into a Chesterfield armchair (ideal scenario), heavy eyelids surrender to the all encompassing warmth that envelops you prior to sleep. Don’t fight it, put the book down, return to the journey post shut-eye. The next part is tricky. World wars have been initiated over less. To turn the corner of the page or not? I say yes. My sister says no. We argue.
Similar qualms debated the world over include bending the spine, leaving the book open, face down, and allowing pages to become ‘scratch and sniffs’ advertising your favourite Starbucks coffee or what you had for breakfast.
Sometimes I lend. Sometimes I refuse to lend. Sometimes I can only abide brand new books. Sometimes I covet second hand editions with personalised dedications; the true meaning of ‘share the word’. Sometimes I wish I could lay my hand on a book and absorb its contents instantaneously. But the pleasure is in the reading: the smell of the ink, the feel of the cover and its pages, the looking towards the top to see if you are over half way, the memories of where you were when you were reading (the summer holiday when it rained incessantly, the cafe near the station while waiting for your first love to arrive).
Books are love. We are very happily married.
Invest in reading. Get involved with goodreads.com
The best sandwiches you will ever taste are those made for you by someone else. This does not include shop bought sandwiches, even if the label boasts that the contents have been assembled ‘fresh and with love’. These sandwiches are shameful and should be sent to the head-teachers office.
Ideally, you want a sandwich that is made by someone you know well, even better by someone who you care about. Want to know if your feelings are reciprocated? It’s all in the sandwich. Appearances are crust deep and have no great significance, all of which is derived in the mouthwatering goodness of the flavour. Pay attention to the frequency and intensity of your involuntary ‘mmmmmmms’ of approval as you lift the bread from it’s cold and lettuce strewn resting plate, and attempt to stuff its entire contents into your too small mouth without choking. It is advisable to gently press the sandwich together in order to combine flavours and ensure minimum embarrassment.
Mayonnaise is not optional. It is, however, in both the sanwiches’ and your best interests to ensure that it remains glued to the interior confines of your bread of choice. White, brown, granary, wholemeal, stale, lightly toasted, warm from the oven, jeweled with sundried tomatoes and olives, half frozen, baguette, best of both. Whatever your choice, watch out for the rogue dollop of mayonnaise clinging to the corners of your crumb littered mouth. A paper napkin is customary.
The most important question when it comes to sandwiches is whether you want yours cut into…
… Squares or triangles?
Post your favourite, weird and wonderful, all time, sandwich combinations below.
Firstly, the mug. Choice of mug is crucial in determining the level of enjoyment when it comes to the tea drinking. Everyone has a preferred mug. Sometimes, the mug may vary according to the type of tea selected and indeed, the time of day it is brewed. Akin to choice of partners, some people have a mug ‘type’ from which they choose to refresh themselves. My mum, for example, will only drink tea from medium sized, bone china mugs that are ‘MADE. IN. ENGLAND’.
Others stumble across their ‘one and only’ mug, thereafter embraced and cherished as THE mug. Beware that you do not inadvertently reach for this special vessel of tea leaves amongst the chipped and cheerful collection in the cupboard. Narrowed eyes and hushed tuts will follow aplenty and can, on occasion, cause silent rifts between the most pleasant of friendships.
Sometimes, mugs are not appropriate. Sometimes, it is preferable to drink from cups and saucers. More refined. More special. More… The Ritz. Fingers and hands feel decidedly superior clutching a delicately curved handle. Without knowing it, you’re even sitting up straighter. For those who suffer from chronic back pain, then, it is advisable to sip jasmine tea from expensive, hand painted tea cups with floral saucers and matching tea pots. Three times daily.
Tea is also a cure for depression and sadness and anger and loss and boredom and anything not good and happy that needs to be right for a small, short, tea drinking time.
Method. There’s method in the tea making madness.
Tea bag always goes in first. Some people add milk then water then stir. Others add water, remove tea bag, add milk. Some brew. Some squeeze. Some even leave the tea bag floating like a buoy in the tea sea. Each to his own. Everyone is right.
The final, crucial decision rests with timing. Regular, tentative caresses against the warmed curve of china hint at the ideal drinking temperature. Hot? Warm? Lukewarm? Who is Luke anyway? My tea is best served marionwarm. Click-click-click. Three sweeteners please.
A distracted hand sweeps the mug from its coaster, one eye concentrated on the task at hand (television, over-sized newspaper, loquacious friend), the other mindlessly avoiding tea overflow with an upwards slight of hand before settling the rim on patient lower lips. Pursed and nervous, lips whistle an airy tune which crinkles and cools the liquid gold until it passes, cautiously at first, past razor rock teeth into the dark cavern behind. Eager taste buds twinkle then drown a hundred times. A satisfying gulp sends the milky cascade on its downward flume, warming from the inside out. Warm heart, wet smile.
The only trace that remains: a rusty halo traced on a red square which reads “Keep Calm and Carry On”.