Thursday, March 24, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Years and tears ago I went for a job interview for a librarian post.
I had no reason other than that I love books ( by the way my friend thinks I don't like Kindles because I do not have one – I am not convinced. I am reading a twenty year old book from the library at the moment – it has thick pages, smells musty and is all out of shape. I love it – it calls to me – its also a Cormac Mc Carthy – so that may have something to do with it. And for those who have gone before a helluva lot of it is in Spanish, so...)
I also wanted to be a librarian because the post was at the Port Elizabeth Library, which I adore. It is an old Victorian building, with Queen Victoria standing in marble outside. It is a cluster of small rooms, two storeys high, ringed round with narrow balconies. I spent hours in there at one time, sitting in the reading room, with all the homeless men taking shelter from the rain, reading newspapers.
I applied for the job, and got an interview. A problem presented itself. At that time I had no decent clothes. I earned my living by waitressing and rented a room in a tatty house, writing most of the day away and working at night. My diet consisted of cigarettes and souvlakia at the restaurant. I walked everywhere. My shoes were down at heel.
I borrowed clothes from my mother for the interview. Her shoes were too small, but I squashed my feet into them. I fought my long, permed hair into a scraggly bun, and, with my 'John Lennon' glasses perched on my nose made my way to the interview. My reflection in the shop windows on the way told me I looked like Barbara Woodhouse, the dog trainer.
I made it through to a final interview – and then – the other girl got it. I was gutted.
A librarian I was never to be, but my love for that library continues and my love of books is relentless. I am a seeker after libraries, and never have been as disillusioned as with a library in a rural town which once spent thousands on a new floor and did not buy a single book. Who, I feel, even notices a bouncy floor when you have a good book in hand.
Walls could fall around me, trains rattle through my station stop, aeroplanes take off...
I suppose I am a reading addict. The sort that reads anything anywhere, any time. It was a difficult day when I could no longer read any label on any product anywhere and so had to join the ranks of the spectacle necklace brigade. I need to read the cereal box while I eat my breakfast, the menu of cause, from cover to cover (even if only drinking a cappuccino),and every ingredient label on any supermarket produce.
I am, anyway a great fan of packaging, and would hate to miss a detail. I am also a loo book reader, and if no book is present, will read the aerosol spray can. I read the bubble bath, the toothpaste, the dental floss – give me a moment to spare and I will fill it with print.
At the moment I am not part of any book club and I adore book clubs.
It's something about the women, the eating, the wine, the book grabbing, the wine drinking, the laughing, the frowning ('you mean you didn't like it...?').
Book clubs are book insurance. You are always covered in an emergency. So is the floor beside your bed normally, because I always took at least three extra 'just in case' books.
The only thing winter is good for I reckon anyway is reading in bed. Warm, but with freezing hands I constantly pat the duvet as I read – I suffer from 'I've lost the bookmark' anxiety. Loosing my place phobia is the only phobia I've got!
But, even though I have no Book Club in Sedge I do have the market.
O yes, and a few marvellous book stalls there are too. My daughter says the owners are not really my friends – they just see money when we approach and that's why they greet us so warmly!
I disagree.Only a good friend really knows ones taste in books and will point out possibilities. And only a good friend lets one run up a tab like every good bar man who understands need when he sees it – for that book you have to have but have already spent your last rand.
And only a friend will hunt around for another of that one book...that one special book that was there last week and is now sold!
We have piles of unpacked boxes of books and are filling our shelves with new second hand ones instead. How I love someone elses book, with their names scribbled inside, sometimes an address, sometimes a message.
I linger over them for a minute, wandering..
So, Kindles are probably great for aeroplanes and suitcases and travelling light. But this love affair, with musty, dog eared or glossy beautiful fascinating books is an addictive one.
Hope you enjoyed the read!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Sedgefield has, in my opinion one of the best markets in the country.
Actually, it has three markets.
We started out at the food market, which serves, again in my opinion, the best cappuccinos on the Garden Route.
That's all it was, in the beginning.
Then we discovered the felafel's ( I dream of Israelis every time I take a bite!)
Then we discovered the cheeses, the olives, the breads..
We enjoyed the French music, the delightful dogs on leads who became like particularly characterful friends because you see them every week.
But it all got rather expensive – and so a change was called for.
We visited the Middle market.
There it also began with just one purchase.
Although I paused for a long while before making my selection, running my hands back and forth along the plastic CD spines. Flip, flap, pick up, put down, whilst calling out to L, or him to me,
'O remember this!'
or, “ This brings back memories,” pausing to savour a flashback so vivid sometimes, it took my breath away. Music does that. Takes me back, to a far away memory, and I can smell, feel, almost touch it all..
I think our first choice was decided by the stall holder, who lures you in by playing some or other CD and puts the cover on display, under a tippex on black plastic sign saying 'PLAYING NOW'
So, we took home Donovan, all mellow and yellow and young.
Of cause, it was not difficult to move from listening to Donovan, stretched out on the couch one lazy Saturday afternoon to thinking about other couches, and other music
We had a room just for my sister and me when we were growing up. We named it 'The Clutta” and celebrated it mostly by playing records. Although it was the late seventies we were about ten years behind in our music tastes – mostly fuelled by 'Bluesway', a record library in Port Elizabeth whose records we borrowed and shamelessly taped.
Oh, and if we really loved something we visited Michael's Record Bar down a sleazy side street off PE's Main Road, where I asked the Afro haired guy behind the counter to spin a record for me, and then joined the other 'hippies' on a couch in a dark corner. We all donned those cool big padded headphones and he was generous, and played the whole record for you sometimes. And you could smoke while he did it, and stub out your stompie in one of the large psychedelic ashtrays.
Those were the days of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Bread, Patti Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin....
I would listen to them all later, lying on my belly on 'The Clutta' floor and warble along to the words, all printed out, as they used to be, on the record sleeve..
A few years later my best friend at Rhodes came to love old Joni as much as me, but I do remember her squinting at me once, through a haze of cigarette smoke and saying, ' Joni is so cool, and these words are fantastic - but what the f........ is she on about?”
And so that's how, L and I came to buy a turntable last week. From the CD man.
We got talking about all those wonderful records sitting in a tin trunk in storage. We got talking about the extraordinary, and now lost pleasure, of studying record sleeves, many of which are works of art, I think.
We talked about the pleasure of slashing the sealed tight plastic wrap off a new, imported record. Of sliding out the record, balancing the disc between middle finger and thumb, before settling it on the turntable and sending the whole thing spinning... then, watching the stylus touch the vinyl, wobble, wobble ,and there it is. Pure, full sound, washing over you.
We've been doing just that. For the whole of this last week.
Our children are delighted with it all. Our youngest – just thirteen, has become an expert, delicate handler of the magical black discs. They have heard my favourite Joni's a few times now. I find it irresistible to cook by, to warble along to.
The only thing is – was one side always so short? It seems to take the time of chopping one onion, finally sliced. Maybe an onion and a green pepper, finally sliced.
It could be a nuisance, but while the novelty of it all has not yet worn off, my daughter is always available to turn it over. She even likes some of it.
Although it bounces at times. And crackles.
But it feels good – just like James Brown.
Even though I still don't always understand Joni Mitchell.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
In The Tourist he presents his real face - I think - but without giving too much away - we don't really know that because....
But I digress. The real reason for me going all the way to George, to the Big Screen was.....Venice.
Glorious Romantic Enigmatic The Last Place To See Before You Die - Venice.
I have a bit of an Italian thing going on at the moment. It started a while ago, with my good friend Jamie, who I took a virtual cookery tour of Italy with. L fed the relationship when he bought me the 'Jamies Italy' cookbook for Christmas...and my food has had an Italian flavour ever since.