(Detail from cover design for 'Discrimination and Popular Culture' (edited by D Thompson) by Fletcher/Forbes/Gill)
Given that I am on the cusp of one week's leave from horrible old work, you may be relieved to find that I am struggling to muster any musings of a melancholy nature this evening (but I'll do my best regardless). Apart from the usual feelings of dread that I will somehow squander my precious leave on folly or sloth, contract an awful week-long illness or experience some grotesque incident involving a whipper snipper and a bleeding stump, the claw that usual grips my heart of a Sunday evening is clearly taking some leave of its own. Hoorah!
However, two quick snippets about today.
1. I finally made it to a book sale in North Adelaide which I had erroneously imagined was being held for the last few weeks. It wasn't the best book sale I had ever been to. It was rather dull and worthy actually, and full of pushy, sniffling people wearing scarves and Germanic glasses. But given my previous flights of fancy regarding said book sale, I was determined to make it there and to be present when the doors opened (in retrospect, the fact that it was only held for two hours, after so much anticipation gave it a Brigadoon-esque quality). As it happened, I was 15 minutes late, having been distracted over breakfast by some article in the local rag about a two-bit celebrity doing something insignificant and meaningless. But no matter.
At the book sale, I mostly stocked up on those blue Pelican Books, the type celebrated for their covers designed by the likes of Germano Facetti and Martin Bassett. To quote Stuart Murdoch in This is just a modern rock song:
I'm not as sad as Dostoevsky,
I'm not as clever as Mark Twain,
I'll only buy a book for the way it looks,
And then I stick it on the shelf again.
That said, deep within me lurks the ridiculous notion that one of these mornings I will read all of these Pelicans and be a better person for it. There's something so quaint about their in-built obsolence, their purported seriousness and 'authority'. But until that morning comes, all those unread words will continue to oppress me. And the portentous titles of those never-to-be-read tomes will continue to mock me with their worthiness, while seducing me with a poetry all of their own:
The growth of personality
The divided self
The empty space
The earnings conflict
Dreams and nightmares
(One might say that those titles are quite telling).
As a youngster I dreamed of having a houseful of books. But now they're hemming me in from all directions. And I can not for the life of me tune out their incessant husky whispering.
2. Speaking of feelings of oppressiveness, if the books are whispering to me, the weeds in my garden are laughing hollowly at my expense. At first I was delighted to see their weedy greeness after what seemed an eternity of drought conditions. Now, however, they'd give the Great Wall of China a run for its money in the visible-from-outer-space stakes (if such stakes do, indeed, exist). My first encounter with a whipper snipper filled my heart with despair as it sat there, inanimate, despite my most valiant (and undignified) attempts to spark it into life. So I half heartedly plucked a few tufts by hand until I caught my nosy neighbour (let's call her Joan) bearing down towards my fence.
Joan only talks to me when she wants me to cut down a tree that has looked at her the wrong way. Or to complain in that sweet old lady way of hers about one of our fellow neighbours. I figured that she was going to give me a helpful, passive aggressive 'tip' about the best way to dispose of weeds (so what if the weeds are caressing her fence and choking her cat?). Now, I pride myself on being someone who does not run away from awkwardness, but there's a first time for everything, isn't there? So I dropped my gloves, stumbled past the accursed Whipper Snipper and literally ran away from Joan. I did not look back.
I will now take some artistic licence and say that it was like something from a horror film. That I flattened myself against the screen door panting. That I heard the weeds tapping on the window and gradually blocking out the sunlight. That Joan was at the front door croaking something unspeakable. That I swung around only to be faced with a pile of falling Facetti-designed books and cried 'Noooooooo' ..
But none of that happened.
No, instead, I sighed, sat down and made myself a darling cup of tea. And thought about how, just sometimes, it can feel oh so lovely to actually admit defeat.