“He would always speak the language of the heart with an awkward foreign accent.” – Orson Scott Card.

Image

The snowy, misty veils as you ascend Grouse Mountain, Vancouver.

My partner has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Specifically, in the old language before the nominally distinct branch was stricken from medical diagnosis, he has an informal diagnosis at a clinical level of high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. 

This post is written about my feelings and experiences, not all feelings and experiences. It is not written to try and describe ASD. Nor is it written in a politically clean way – it is written as a partner, as a very close loved one, who struggles to share life with someone who has behaviour we may organise and label as ASD. There will be things I write here that are seen almost entirely from my flawed perspective and won’t reflect how my partner sees himself. Such is life.

Nothing here is intended to demonise him or say he is a bad person. He is, in fact, better than any of you. He is the best. And certainly the best thing that has happened to me.

I knew from early on in our romantic entwinement that Something Was Up. Despite my partner (D) being a romantic, exuberant, involved and cheeky playmate – and despite his clear and intimate fondness for me – there were times when he just didn’t seem to ‘get’ emotion. He was also very specific and organised about certain things, enjoyed routine just a little too much and didn’t like when it was thrown out of whack. He was prone to sensory overload – noise, lights, touch. He had a tendency to fixate upon details, thoughts and could talk me under a table on a subject if it was the current subject of focus.

All of this was interesting, but in the throes of feeling all-the-things I pretty much thought it was cute, and ignored it.

Then there was That Night Of Crying, and that was the night that I knew something was actually, properly up. 

One of evening I was distressed while ill and trying to fill out a medical form so that I could get antibiotics and not miss my first day of work in a new job. It was late, and I was in a horrid pickle, and needed assistance. I asked my partner for help and he expressed slight grumbles due to needing to go to bed for work the next day. I felt positively awful – and a burden – and began to cry. Solidly, for a very long time. D watched me and said nothing, seemingly impassive. After much hard and increasingly hysterical crying without any physical or verbal comfort from him, I ended up feeling even more upset and said something about it, albeit in a grumpy and sad way. He replied that he didn’t know what to do, so he was just doing nothing. I sat outside of our door and continued to cry on my own. Eventually I came back to bed under my own steam, and lay beside him in bed – still with zero cuddles or comforting words or understanding forthcoming.

It was an eye opening night, and after seeing a therapist and undergoing some testing, he was diagnosed informally with ASD. He fits the bill of a high functioning ASD person to almost a tee – though of course any description you read lumps people’s symptoms into a wholistic mass. Few ASD people have *every* symptom, but he inhabits many of them. And so a journey of discovery and heartache began.

The biggest, most painful discovery was that I was in love with a person who in this moment was not capable of meeting my emotional needs during my most vulnerable moments. Normal life events where a little empathy goes a long way are constant sources of stress in our house – at the end of a gruelling work day when I’m blowing off steam and needed a big hug and unconditional support, I get cool critique and emotional remove. 

When I’m depressed and sad, he often just doesn’t have the words, or even the right questions. He’s awkward, stilted, absent or glazed. I know he’s in there, and cares in an odd yet feeling way, but it’s hard to remember when you already feel isolated and trashed by your day. You just want a comrade, someone to be beside you with their own anger at your shitty day. Or someone who understands the love language of physical touch and the wonderful healing power of a hard, wordless bearhug.

What’s terribly hard about this is that I *know* he isn’t an emotionless robot. Far from it – he is full of love, cheekiness, amusement and despair as the next sod. He feels plenty, it just doesn’t filter outwards like me and neither does the information he receives generate a similar response. I know, for instance, he cares in an abstract way about my happiness, and can also parse that a hard day at work interferes with said happiness. But that’s about as far as it goes, because many people with ASD do better with global empathy than specific empathy that requires projected imagining. If he can’t picture himself even close to walking in my shoes, he can’t react genuinely and empathically to my specific experiences. It just leaves him cold.

All he can do is coolly analyse what seems accessible, so a rant about a coworker is digested between us in a barely interested academic style where he picks apart whether my actions and thoughts are logical in the same way we would take down a movie with analysis during a cab ride home. Critique and lack of perceivable connection are obviously not the best in terms of tender loving care. What comes across is an icy, immovable exterior and all feelings inside him seem hidden behind a veil of snow and mist I can’t reach through or push aside. 

It seems that it takes me ramping up to a state of absolute hysteria before he feels he can spontaneously wrap his arms around me; that same gesture, if given three hours before, would have met the lion’s share of my emotional needs. Simple gestures seem as far away as a distant star. I’ve taken on board the many suggestions my therapist has, who treats both of us, though I’ve certainly been more dedicated to therapy (and kind of wonder what a mess I *would* be like, without it!) Yet these suggestions don’t seem to advance us much right now beyond acknowledging realities and having the balls to deal with it head on.

At the moment what I’m finding crushing are two things: firstly, imagining the future and secondly, the impact it has on my sense of reality.

My concerns for the future are obvious. If D and I are to have the family together that we so dearly want, then I worry for our kids. I don’t really do distant dads; our kids aren’t having one if I can help it. So if my darling husband, who I love more than he can actually conceive of inside his bright and beautiful brain, can’t handle an articulate and thoughtful me after a hard day – how is he going to deal with the irrational explosive bundle of a baby? I can say “give me a hug” but a baby just bellows and has inarticulate, heavy needs that are unreasonable and potent. They are noisy and confronting. They create chaos, they wreck routines. We talk about this and he worries too. There’s no answer, and while it seems my therapist is determined that I should never have children, I’m not giving up. (If my grown children should ever read this, know I loved you enough to defy Jo.)

A large part of having a child, for me, will be enduring a Bipolar pregnancy which by all descriptions will be a special hell. If I manage to make it un-medicated through the entire thing without a psychotic episode, manic episode or depressive episode, it’ll be a miracle and I’ll have to seriously reconsider my current lack of commitment to the church. But it is likely I will be a pretty hard to handle wife in that time, while I cook a baby. And I’ll have big, unruly emotional needs that will almost require their own raft of solar panels to power and right now I’m scared that he just won’t have it in him to support me.

Secondly, I am just so scared of my reality changing. If you’re denied for long enough of basic hugs and cheering up and connected response from someone you’re close to, you shut off from them (horrible and not good for intimacy) or I think you may start to believe you are in some way wrong for needing what you need. Right *now* I can say firmly that there’s nothing wrong with expecting your husband to be in your corner and be making the tea and saying “WHAT a DICK! UGH!” and scowling when you describe someone street harassing you. I get that this is a normal expectation. But over time, when I just fail to get it over a long period of time, perhaps I’ll start to think I’m unreasonable or irrational, or worse: that I’m too much. I spent almost all of my twenties trying to kill that mindset. I’m not giving it new life now.

After a night of sleep deprivation and sobbing – all very dramatic – I’m feeling tired of a seemingly intractable incompatibility and unsure right now of accessible solutions. Do I accept that living with ASD is just going to suck and deal with it? Do I try to get these needs met elsewhere? Do I become a zen monk who has no emotional needs? Do I prod my partner back into therapy for skills building and concrete strategies?

In the end, I only know one thing for sure: for better and for worse, my Michaela. In sickness and in health. I’m so far from done yet, though I may be limping a little.

 

I didn’t know Jill Meagher, and neither did you.

There’s so few words to say about something like this. But I do know this – though we didn’t know her, it is appropriate for us to grieve.

I grieve her death with a particular pain and horror that only survivors of street violence might understand.

I survived my attacker, and for months I’ve convinced myself that it was ‘only’ this and ‘only’ that, but yesterday as I stood heaving in panic over my sink, the knowledge that my survival was not lucky or a result of my actions but just a product of the fickle hand of fate – hit me like a tonne of bricks to the windpipe.

I think of Jill Meagher and I want to crawl back into my cave. I think of the people blaming her for her own death because she had the audacity to walk alone at night, and I want to throw things at walls, wail – the reaction is visceral because despite all my wordiness, I can only feel a great knot of terror, anger and helplessness rise in me. And it stays there – a knotted cord of despair unable to worm to the outside.

Do you know how many women around this country feel similar right now? I can’t fathom the number.

The world is not safe for you if you are a woman. There are men who want to find you and hurt you. I wish we had another truth but there are people, usually men, who want to make sure we don’t live and breathe in safety.

I’ve given up on thinking we can change anything. I don’t think we can. All we can do is arm ourselves, be vigilant, and know that nothing is enough, it isn’t our fault.

Most of all, let us honour our screams, ignore the world and mourn our sister.

Goodbye Jill Meagher. You deserved so very much more.

Please take a moment to think of her respectfully with Everything’s Turning To White (Paul Kelly).

It was too hard to tell how long she’d been dead, the river was that close to freezing
But one thing for sure, the girl hadn’t died very well to judge from the bruising
They stood there above her all thinking the same thoughts at the same time
There’s so much water so close to home

 

I’m barely ever here, chaps.

My public blog is found here:

mostlysnarling.wordpress.com

I need to join the local library and find cheap buys for these titles and authors…

All books on this list are concerned with Greece in some way, particularly the islands. They vary in quality, content and style. Comment with any recs – I prefer fiction or memoirs. In bold are the ones I’ve read or am reading. Hoping to cross off more as we head into spring…

  • Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerry Durrell
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
  • The Moonspinners & Rough Magic & My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart
  • Zorba The Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
  • Eleni by Nicholas Gage
  • Greek myths as told by Edith Hamilton
  • Dinner with Persephone by Patricia Storace
  • The Olive Grove:Travels in Greece by Katherine Kizilos
  • The King Must Die & The Bull From The Sea by Mary Renault
  • The Cretan Runner by George Psychoundakis
  • The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller
  • Prospero’s Cell by Lawrence Durrell.
  • Any further books by Nikos Kazantzakis
  • Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy
  • The Papas and the Englishman by Roy Hounsell
  • The Greek For Love by James Chatto
  • Corfu by Robert Dessaix (currently reading)

I’ve started a new book, having left my copy of The Bell at my Derby wife’s house. I think it is probably rattling around their loungeroom somewhere, perhaps being sat on by their cat Lunchbox, or having been relegated to the dusty underskirts of their coffee table. It was just getting good too – I’d discovered the shape of queer business to come in the character of Michael, and was looking forward to a bit of boy snogging, or at the very least a suggestion of a shadowy inclination toward it.

With a small (perhaps quite large, in actuality) hiccup of mental interestingness a couple of weeks ago, I was off for a rest in a charming hotel in the heart of Sydney’s Rocks district. Well, I thought to myself, what am I to read in the spa I am thankfully not paying for? What to sweat over in the sauna I can’t afford? And poolside, I’ll be adrift. Bookless I shall be, and with naught to do but hunker down into my terry towelling robe on a deckchair and stare at the shimmering bodies of the rich and political as they sway to and fro in very small pieces of clothing.

Rather than relegate myself to this exercise in furthering my mental un-health, I decided to pick up one of the orange suited wedges available from Penguin Books. Their push over the last little while to re-release a whole swathe of popular titles in the cheap and cheerful amber they are so known for is something I applaud. At just $9.95 a piece, this is first-hand reading I can access.

After some extended deliberation over Picnic At Hanging Rock, which Cassie expressly forbid in the end (“Too depressing! That’s the last thing you need!”), my hand alit upon a copy of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.

I was told two of my friends – Xan and Lauren – were already big fans. I have noticed they both have a penchant for fun and funny romps, featuring plots and dialogue with tongues firmly in cheek, and all manner of cultural adorability on display. This, I figured, would be the perfect antidote to my recent rather dangerous flirtation with the blues. Something sweet, silly and heart-warming, without sacrificing quality.

Sure enough, I’m adoring My Family And Other Animals.

There’s so much to like! From the very outset, you can’t help but giggle aloud at the descriptions of the family interactions. His depiction of his mother is patronising, sure, but still made me titter on the curb as I awaited the taxi to my fancypants destination. “We can be proud of the way we have brought her up; she is a credit to us,” Durrell says of his mother, and she is painted as a bemused, fierce-hearted matron in charge of a quarreling, bizarre crew of children. Throughout the early chapters it seems as though she largely regards her spawn with a wry detachment, though there’s no lack of warmth both back and forth. The thing that pleases me most is that though her children are loved and nurtured, she very much has her own existence – and in fact, it seems as though the family spends more of their time apart and seeking out their own adventures, than together.

Though the chapter in which she gets very drunk and morbid with her eldest son after having consumed too much florid balladeering from the guitar (not to mention strong red wine) and asks to be buried beneath the rose bushes is most amusing. What a family bonding moment that sounds like.

But I forgot to mention the most important part! The book details the family’s life on Corfu. As in, the Greek Island of Corfu. Yes! This book is yet another way for me to further my abject obsession with this particular nook of the world. I find I can’t put it down, as the descriptions of shining skeins of ocean stretching out beyond the purpling horizon, globes of olives shaking down like hail, and the heavy siesta-inducing afternoon heat are simply intoxicating.

I mean, this! This is lovely!

“Across the mouth of the bay, a sun bleached boat would pass, rowed by a brown fisherman in tattered trousers, standing in the stern and twisting an oar in the water like a fish’s tail. He would raise one hand in lazy salute, and across the still, blue water you could hear the plaintive squeak of the oar as it twisted, and the soft clop as it dug into the sea.”

This, and the laugh-aloud-in-elevators nature of the narrative are making this my favourite book so far this year. It rather reminds me of The Exiles by Hilary McKay, which I wish everyone would read. They tell the tale of four sisters who, through mishap and mayhem, forge an interesting childhood together. The first is set on the Isle of Man (sp?) when the girls visit their grandmother, known as Big Grandma. While there they manage to observe badgers, collect interesting bones, break their own, fish in buckets, keep food diaries, make outrageous wish lists, and generally mistreat one another.

Though now lost to boxes in my ex-husband’s garage, I fondly remember the books and spent a great deal of time as a young adult re-reading them aloud with aforementioned husband. Despite the sadness of recalling where I have enjoyed their pages and knowing that bond and memory now anulled, I know too for certain that it is their core of whimsy and childhood optimism that drew me, and this I shall always retain purely. I hope one day to purchase them again, to have the set on my shelves, and to again carefully open their pages with other friends, other loves. The twinkle in the author’s eye that I can see as I let my own travel down the trail of paragraphs is something one must share, and cannot hoard.

In that spirit, take my advice – go online, or to a local bookstore, and purchase My Family And Other Animals.

Uh, yeah. So I’ve missed a few List Fridays. This little shiny eyed alley cat has had a lot going on, OKAY!? Ahem.

Anyway. Here’s the list for Friday (which arrives in an hour).

Edit: It has been drawn to my attention that the wryness of this list is not apparent enough. Just to be clear – this is tongue in cheek. I am more than aware that an experience of real poverty is virtually impossible among the privileged of Western democracies, of which I am part.

Seven Ways In Which Real Poverty Is Less Awesome Than Fictional Poverty

  • Real poverty means typing in cheap supermarket fingerless gloves, not drawing up to a riverbank and building a rustic fire only for a band of Romany to join you, wherein you dance to fiddles keep warm.
  • Real poverty means you can’t afford to buy a tin opener for your chickpeas when the old one breaks, forcing you to just stare sadly at the tin. In the realm of fictional poverty, you’d solve this problem with a spell in Latin and a flick of one’s fire-red urchin sorcerer ringlets.
  • If you freeze or starve to death in real poverty or succumb to a disease easily treated with cheap medication that you can’t purchase, nobody brings you back to life. In fictional poverty in a Roman town, you can rely on a dude in sandals to show up to your door, wave and mutter some stuff, and then PARTY TIME.
  • Real poverty means taking jobs you hate and slowly poisoning your soul by staying for the money, squandering your life’s goals for fear of losing financial security. Fictional poverty means taking jobs you hate and then getting mega-famous by writing a witty Pulitzer about it.
  • Real poverty means drinking cheap booze behind the bins beside your local tavern before going in, because you can’t afford anything from the bar. Fictional poverty means wooing a flushed-cheeked French lord, who supplies you with mead so he can up-skirt you occasionally and have a clutch and fumble in the scullery room.
  • Real poverty results in Centrelink. Fictional poverty results in collectivisation and taking the struggle to the barricades.
  • Real poverty means having an awkward conversation in which your parents offer you a loan after a protracted disappointed silence. Fictional poverty means killing your parents in their sleep so as to inherit their riches, marry your sister and rule as a terrible sovereign-head.

I don’t get Vonnegut.

I know I’m supposed to. It’s almost like a hipster rite of passage…right? (ha!) You walk around Newtown and even the poodles of local queer femmes are reading Vonnegut. Hot academic boys hang out in between the stacks of Sydney Uni reading him, hoping to pick up with their well placed quotes. Riot grrls walk about with pocket editions of Breakfast of Champions jammed in the waist-band of their low slung dark skinnies.

But goddammit. I don’t get Vonnegut! I got halfway through Breakfast and absolutely hated it.

It isn’t how it is written…per se. I like his bizarro humour and the gritty fearlessness with which he tackles some topics. But in the end it all just feels artless and crass. I know that’s not a popular viewpoint, but come on…there’s just no elegance.

I know, I know. That’s not the point. Maybe my desire for pretty shiny prose means I’ll just never appreciate him.

I also have massive, irreconcilable issues with his treatment of cis-women, but that’s a whole other post. Suffice to say, pretty much all of his female characters seem to manifest as porn figures, horrible mothers or horrible lovers and I find that grumpily problematic.

Do you get Vonnegut? Why?

What I find even more odd is that I love Bukowski (who let’s face it, is the Vonnegut of the poetry arena) but just can’t get down with V.

Cry of the heart: A lament…..

Whom will you cry to, heart? More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping to its direction,
keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost.

Once. You lamented? What was it? A fallen berry
of jubilation, unripe.
But now the whole tree of my jubilation
is breaking, in the storm it is breaking, my slow
tree of joy.
Loveliest in my invisible
landscape, you that made me more known
to the invisible angels.

– Rainer Rilke

Love and happiness, on the whole, are boring.

I mean sure, while you’re in it it can feel like the most fascinating, wonderous thing in the world. But when described, you realise quite quickly that love and the pleasure of joy are a fairly shallow ground. There’s not much to say beyond “ooh, puppies! Christmas! I’m so hap-hap-happy!” I’ve been in love, deeply – and though it was a pleasant experience during the period in which it worked, it was hardly a source of great intellectual nourishment or creative drive.

But misery – ah. There’s something you can derive some depth from. Misery tramples you decisively underfoot like so much discarded rubbish – because when it comes to brass tacks, we’re nothing more. And when misery comes upon misery in quick succession, it reminds you of how little you really matter, and how little vital power you have. Though this is a worrying thing, it can be refreshing. The razed soul brings fresh blood to the surface, and in the tiny droplets you can see the spring of life. It is illuminating to be reminded of your powerlessness to affect outcomes – it subverts the ego in a monastic way.

This is why I find poetry and prose manufactured from deep lament much more invigorating than that built from wells of happiness. Certainly, of late, I have had much more energy for a good literary wail than for a singing forth in praise. That which has struck me most has been the mournful, the desolate. I like something that stares out at me with a blank and unflinching voice. Works that have tongues of horror in them that cry of no solace, no reprieve. Lamentations and Job are instruction manuals in old-school emo.

However, we need poems of respite, too. After we’ve allowed ourselves to drown in Rielke and Plath and Byron’s most crushing efforts, we need somewhere to go that speaks of comfort. Too much Moon and the Yew Tree and you’ll go as mad as the author. It isn’t wise to give sorrow too many footholds with the encouragement of literature.

I walked home from a friend’s house on Sunday afternoon, and a sudden cold poured inward. The sunshine did nothing to warm me. All my guards against recent sadness dropped sidelong, and in it rushed, all at once. But, again and again in my mind played words from Yeats – and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

The words came as a salve and made the bright light of the walk back to my flat just feasible. Taken from W.B’s poem ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, they are some of the sweetest words I memorised as a child. He speaks in this poem of the softness of cherished place, sites of escape and glowing calm. Nothing bruises here; there is a tranquillité that the scene conjures. Best of all is how he carries the idea of his isle, or the memory, high in his heart – no matter where he journeys. I don’t have my own Lake Isle, but I’m happy to absorb the fantasy of Yeats’. For now, it is a nourishing beacon: somewhere, in the world, are havens.

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

I’m instituting a new…institution. On farce-book, my compatriot Susy Pow is a fan of ALL CAPS FRIDAY but since all caps makes me want to die in a fire (though honestly, when she does it I find it tres cute), I’m kicking off List Friday!

Each Friday, you can expect a new and wond’rous list. They’ll have something vaguely to do with books, though partly they won’t. After much musing, here’s the first of many to come.

I bought new mittens today. This has nothing to do with books, other than the fact that reading in mittens is way cuter than reading with bare hands.

Things you cannot do in mittens:

  • type complete sentences without some form of correction
  • hold oreos
  • dip oreos in tea without getting them all over your keyboard
  • hold glasses of water in the staff kitchen without the odious mortification of dropping them
  • put your hair up in a complicated bun that involves a pencil and rubber bands without jabbing yourself in the head with the pencil and getting rubber bands tangled in your hair (my scalp does not thank me)
  • wash your hands
  • take the lids off sugar dispensers
  • eat a sandwich

Romantic stuff from books and movies you can do in real life:

  • Turn and laugh over your shoulder with a gay throw of the head
  • Stare whimsically down a river from the elevated aspect of a bridge
  • Pull your hair out of a bun and shake it flowingly free (unless it is put up with rubber bands and a pencil – that takes a while and you lose inertia)
  • Lose your delicate scarf to the wind, only for it to be caught by a dashing gentleman/woman/person
  • Ride a bike with a basket on the front, in a skirt, with flowers in the basket. Do not try this with live animals. A kitten might tolerate it, a snake would not
  • Write a letter to a lover, only to have second thoughts, causing you to dash to their house to retrieve it before they open their mail.
  • Depart from a rendezvous with a nonchalant tip of your hand, without turning back to look, like a hard bastard
  • Have an inner monologue

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Please feel free to add to the categories in the comments. List like a socia-list and collaborate!

My friend J has heard me rant about my love of artefacts many a time. I like history, and I like objects. I very rarely buy anything new because I prefer to own something that has been touched by the hands of another; something another body has moved and breathed inside, or a mysterious quotient of hands have passed over. Clothes and books and artworks…I like things that mean something outside of an intent to generate traffic in the merchant stream.

I don’t mind if stuff is scratched, battered, rusty, falling apart. I’ll probably cherish it more. I like objects that have a life story just like I prefer people who are a bit scruffy and imperfect lookin’, who have been around and seen the world. In fact, when it comes to romance, I’m a sucker in a skirt for a boy or a girl who has travelled well, read well, and looks a bit like they’ve been dragged through a hedge. You know. People with stuff in them, of interest and oddity.

This has led me to contemplate the importance of books as artefacts, particularly second hand books, and the advent of e-book readers. The Kindle will get scape-goated here, but it is by no means alone. It is merely a convenient archetype; a branding anchor to refer to.

I sat next to a lady on the bus yesterday and she sat, placidly absorbing her novel. Her fingers didn’t fall to parchment once. Instead she stared, and scrolled, a white, textureless screen in her lap. Typography not inscribed in ink, but in ones and zeros.

I’m not a luddite, but e-book readers fill me with a despair that is probably a little disproportionate to the actual impact they’re going to have. They’re neither affordable nor practical for the average reader. That and the massive issues they pose, for those outside of America anyway (yes, this world I speak of does exist) in terms of software compatibility, etc. That’s a rant unrelated to what I’m thrusting at, though.

What I’m concerned about is the possible (though improbable) decline of the book as collectable object. Of the book being valued not just as a medium to deliver knowledge and entertainment, but as a piece of art and craftmanship in itself, and as something historians can use as a conduit to understanding place and time. I find people who insist on buying their books new, really odd. Especially when it is grounded in a position of snobbery – as though a book having lived elsewhere is some kind of worrying, confronting thing.

When I go to a bookshop to a buy a (secondhand) book, I look for many things in order to experience the tome. I check the typography, the cover art, if the book has any illustrations or plates. Are the plates coloured? Are there inscriptions on the coverleaf? I look for when it was published, and what edition it was, and where it was published. I leaf through to see if somebody has left something wedged between the pages: a dried flower, a postcard, a post it note, a scrap of fabric that I’ll never understand the meaning of.

My very favourite piece was a Grimm’s Fairytales, quite antique, with coloured plates. There was a note in the front, dating to the 1800s, from an uncle to a beloved niece. Unfortunately it is no longer in my possession, but I trust that wherever it is, it is being taken care of.

We’ll never lose this feeling of connection with our books, I hope. I mean, even if everyone in the world started using Kindles, we’d still have all these books sitting around. I’m sure there’s plenty of bibliophiles out there like me, who will madly collect the books nobody wants, and crack open their covers, and sniff the dusty scent of long shelving.

the cherished (in no particular order)

From high street to low, medieval to modern to contemporary, these are my squeezes. Inconclusive and growing.

- anne michaels
- w.h auden
- john donne
- w.b yates
- sharon olds
- sylvia plath
- e.e cummings
- rainer maria rilke
- haruki murakami
- charles bukowski
- stephen king
- d.h lawrence
- h.d
- t.s eliot
- deborah oxley
- anne summers
- dorothy porter
- virginia woolf
- john ashbery
- carolyn forche
- denise levertov
- robert frost
- michael sharkey
- sarah holland-batt
- kenneth slessor
- gwen harwood
- les murray
- tobsha learner
- poppy z. brite
- midori
- john marsden
- margaret atwood
- chaucer
- ted hughes
- edward lear
- lewis carroll
- c.s lewis
- primo levi
- john milton

the hustle and bustle

May 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031