Remember boxes of notelets – you got them for Christmas from aunts. A4 folded into quarters so that you could write a brief letter to someone, with a picture of Holly Hobby or a watercolour rose on the front quadrant? When you got one, you had to work out which side of which quarter of the notelet to read next – it was like quantum map-reading. Anyway, here is a notelet to my chum, Dr Stephe Harrop.
When I was growing up my vision of my ideal marriage – brace yourself, the innocence coming up is disconcerting – was to sit in silence back-to-back with the man of my dreams, reading in my bedroom. Actually, not my bedroom, Katy Boyce next door’s bedroom, which I thought was the perfect bedroom. For a start it wasn’t a corridor, like mine. Will and I have a slightly different marital set-up to that. BUT…
My dream of sitting and reading in companionable silence has come true! I texted you a very specific question because it lies at the centre of the Venn diagram of your classics and storytelling expertise, and what did you do? You proposed marriage! No, better! You proposed a micro reading group to explore the question. You had me at micro reading group, Harrop.
So here we are, at opposite ends of the country, back-to-back, Liverpool to London, reading in companionable silence.
I’m hugging the question I put to you close to my chest – do you think I should be sharing it here? Am I too private about work things? Let me know what you think.
Thanks for pointing me to World of Books. My second hand, just a bit creased, copy of From The Beast To The Blonde arrived the day before yesterday. Here I am with it.
So, given that the question we’re exploring in our micro reading group concerns the origins of a particular story, and whether they go back much, much further to another story altogether, and given our recent, highly enjoyable, grumpy co-rants about tradition and heritage, I wanted to show you something brilliant. Here is the first page:
Do you think that Sheila (is it Sheila?) and whoever the ‘we’ is ever got their book back? I don’t think Sheila would flog it. Do you think the stinker who borrowed it, then sold it – for more than its original £12.99, might I add? Do you think Sheila knew it was a risk that she’d lost it for good? I think so. I think that exclamation mark is pointed. I mean, it wasn’t just hers, was it? It belonged to ‘we’. Shit, maybe there was a big argument before it was even lent. A massive falling out because THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS, SHEILA! NEITHER A BORROWER NOR A LENDER BE!! HOW MANY TIMES – I am not raising my voice – how many times do I have to tell you? Fine, have it your way. We paid £12.99 for that, Sheila. And then, two years later, or so, Sheila went round to her friend’s house, From The Beast to the Blonde was just lying there, with a creased back, actually, quickly got out her ink pen (look at the smudged ‘We’. So telling.), and scribbled her message while her friend was out of the room making coffee. How terrifying must your friend be, to not be able to take back your own book, but to have to write a passive-aggressive memo in it? And the ‘with love’! And who carries an ink pen? Sheila (is it Sheila??), that’s who. She’s a doctor. She’s terrible at breaking bad news. She has to write it down on the back of prescriptions.
Isn’t it great?
And isn’t Sheila scribbling hastily for us all, Dr H.? We do want this back. We all want it back, Sheila, believe you me. It’s where we are at. Anyway, I’ve run out of space!
Love, A xxxx
PS We’ll chat after page 51.