I find myself stranded in a public house: one of my oldest, dearest and most unreliable friends is incredibly and, alas, predictably late to meet me. I had turned to my handbag only to realise that in the last bag change over my book did not make it. Thus, I find myself to be truly stranded and exceedingly bored.
As a longstanding book lover/geek some of my favourite reading moments have been alone in cafes, waiting for friends in restaurants and even on one occasion standing outside a cinema in the rain, stubbornly persevering with a copy of Madame Bovary (the crinkly pages bear the scars of that sorry tale).
In our unrelentingly modern world, it is oft lamented that reading is no longer considered a priority; no one has ‘space’ to read anymore and so it is crammed into these moments – the dead time between activities. An afterthought; a tool with which to stave off boredom between excitements. Even in these moments our books are increasingly relegated to the bottom of the handbag or to remain confined to the assigned jacket pocket in favour of our smartphones and *looks guilty* the thrill of Twitter.
The thing is, I like reading this way. I truly do. I love the way books change as they’re read, they are objects that take on a life of their own and the more dog-eared and battered they become, the more they take on a little bit of your life. I love the way my moments are riddled with poems and stories and I love the way my poems and stories are riddled with moments, with friends, with buses and trains and cinemas in the rain. That’s what life is; it’s work, meetings, parties, hangovers, baths, mealtimes, bedtimes and a hundred and one other mundaneities. So why not fill the bits in between with fabulous, miraculous, magical stories? That way they become a part of the fabric of your life and a part of who you are. They help to weave your own story, wonderful and unique in the telling.
This all came to me in a moment, snug in the corner of my longtime local, when I would rather have been reading a book. The book in question, sitting forlorn on my bed is already a bit beaten up (pages are beginning to hang precariously) but it is familiar, comforting and unfailingly thrilling; much like the old friend who has just walked through the door.