I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Johann via John

With books I am a non-sentimentalist. To hell with incunabula, with morocco-bound spines, with gold-leaf print, with hand-illuminated manuscripts, with silly typefaces. I never fondle books or have orgasms about their jackets. I want to take books with me to the bath and, if disaster occurs (it hasn’t yet), I’ll wring them out and resume reading. The egregious Beatles once hymned the paperback writer; to a harpsichord continuo, and with less fuss, I align myself with the herd - I don't celebrate being a paperback reader, I just get on with it. Talk contents to me, never The Folio Society.

All of which takes me - in a metaphor I am adapting for this post - to the year 1900 or thereabouts. The stirrings of quantum mechanics started about then after which, say the hacks and Grub Street mealie-grubs, Newtonian physics was cast into darkness. Not true, of course. Since few of us are intellectually affected by the concerns of theoretical physics, the Newtonian sort continues to work just fine.

And I too must make room for a special case within my Paperbacks Are Best principle; the 1% exception. Certain books, all non-fiction, deserve their hardback status chez Robinson. They will never be read in the bath because they are too heavy. Their modest sales mean they are unlikely to reappear as paperbacks. I want them around as large visible reminders of what they say

One such arrived at Christmas, a gift from VR. An orchestral conductor, in his prime, still internationally renowned, describes the love of his life. It's longish (628 pp), has footnotes, and, I fear, has an OTT title. But it's factual and relentlessly impassioned. It breaks the general rule about paperbacks. It encourages me to sip. 


  1. Having left the Kindle to celebrate New Year in Malvern, I feel free to confess that I miss reading in the bath. I dropped my phone down the loo earlier in the year and can't bring myself to take a dunking risk with any more electronics.

    The older and smellier the book the better. My copy of Bridges of Madison County (a favourite) has pages falling out.

  2. My paperback version of Robert Carrier's Great Dishes of the World is in twelve different pieces, not because I have used it that much - it was just badly manufactured and I have had it for for over forty years

    One of my treasured hardbacks is an old version of Joshua Slocombe's Sailing Alone Around the World, which I lent to a "friend" who did drop it in the bath. Yes I know what you think about lending things, especially books, and the lesson was learnt.

    I saw a documentary about JSB recently and can imagine there being much to write about. Does the book lean towards technical analysis of the music or the character of JSB himself?

  3. B2: You mentioned Malvern before; I've been meaning to comment. We inspected it before opting for Hereford; no place for an ageing couple who lack strong legs. The fashionable houses cling to the foothills like terraces on a Rhenish vineyard. The street lights - equally fashionable - are gas powered and radiate almost no light at all. I suspect that the population is at least 98% middle-class which makse it hard for you to escape that stigma should you wish.

    Despite my record with books in the bath I've never dared read my Kindle there. As to mobiles you have a kindred spirit in Sir Hugh; he dropped his into a bucket of water.

    Sir Hugh: Our GDOTW is even more fragmented, torn as pages from the Sunday Times Colour Supplement. Very little is known personally about JSB other than a few laundry bills and some obsequious requests for commissions from people with dough. The main attraction of the book is that John Eliot Gardner writes as a current Bach conductor and has strong views on how he should be played and on what sort of instruments. The emphasis is on performance rather than musicological technicalities.

  4. Sometimes books can be beautiful objects in themselves. It cheers me that you seem to see a streak of light on your horizon. Meanwhile I do understand the charm of books that have begun to fall apart. Like old faces worn out with living.