I was looking through our bookshelves hoping to find some inspiration for a non-food related post since it’s pretty much all I seem to have been writing about of late. Half a shelf of poetry books, a number of Korean War tomes with their tabbed evidence of past research, and a few general wartime information books …
…more books about language than I care to count, including several relating to Hiberno-English (Irish English) and lots on landscape photography (not mine). A whole raft of odds and ends relating to antiques, nature, football (not mine either). I rarely keep novels but there are a few favourites which have retained their spot amid the long term residents
And a couple of art books.
When I first moved out of my parents’ home at the age of nineteen, and into my own, in pride of place on my sitting room wall, hung The Lady of Shalott. She was a favourite then and still is (although that particular print is long gone having faded to a pale imitation of her vibrant beginnings). Years later, I was able to view the original in a J W Waterhouse exhibition at Tate in London. The painting, oft described as one of the greatest pieces of romanticism, is intended to represent Tennyson’s poem of the same name.
The reasons for a particular painting or poem capturing our attention are diverse and often unfathomable. My favourite paintings nowadays are those rich, sultry offerings by Argentinian Fabian Perez about whom I posted here: Fabian Perez . However, I retain a soft spot for those Pre-Raphelite favourites of my younger self -and in particular Waterhouse and his contemporary, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (renowned for the realistic images of marble). It’s an age since I opened these books, but in the middle of typing this post I began to flick through them both and an unexpected and happy hour looking at paintings I’d forgotten all about.
It saddens me greatly that my grandchildren, along with many, if not most, of their generation, seem to read very little; they prefer technology – playing electronic games, watching you-tube and ‘chatting’ with friends on social media. They are missing out on so much. How fondly I remember the excitement of losing myself in the world of the Famous Five, envious of the ease with which they fell into adventures, tracking down criminals, living like castaways on Kirrin Island. Yes they were middle class and privileged and are nowadays considered unrealistic, but (apart from gaining knowledge) isn’t that exactly why we read – to take ourselves off into an imaginary world, to ‘experience’ a life outside our own.
“When books are opened you discover you have wings.” ~ Helen Hayes