a place for the curious

Category: curios

Little things that be strange.


Or, writing in books

the words "Oh, how I love Nina George right now. Thank you." scribbled on the page of a book

a reader’s message

A filthy notion, discussed in the open

I write in books.

Not ‘I write books*’, but ‘I write in books’. I write in the margins of books. Not just text books. Bookish books. Fiction books. Non-fiction books. Beautiful books. Books. Are you with me? Or are you shocked? Some might say it’s akin to an act of graffiti, except more so. Because I don’t put in any old thing. I put in words. Right next to the words the author put in for me to read. Imagine it if you can. Pick up the pencil and . . . Bang! One word. Then another. And another. And before long, there you have it. A margin full of words.

The person to blame is an author, of course. Wherever there’s trouble, you’re bound to find one at the bottom of it all. In the middle of his book Trafficking in Old Books, under a delightful section titled ‘A little heresy’, Anthony Marshall implores the reader to take out their pen and write in the book. Right there and then. He makes clear he will be rather disappointed if you turn the page without leaving your mark.

I’ll admit I use a pencil, rather than a pen. An archival quality pencil that will outlast any pen. Of course, any future reader could decide to erase the comment. There’s no way I can stop them. Just as there’s no way an author can stop me from writing there in the first place. Books are for words. Put them in. Take them out. Do as you see fit, so long as you revel in it.

So, as Anthony did for me, I’m going to do the same for you. Go on. Next time you have a book, a papery book and one that you own, take out your pen and write in it.

Write what you feel, angry or sad. Write how grateful you are for the existence of those words. Or how sad you are that the story might soon be ending. Write what you like and, just as importantly, write what you don’t like it. Argue with the characters. Make nonsensical comments. Make music, leave marks, have fun. Think not of the purity of the form of the book, think only of how the words make you feel. Leave your mark for the future. Think about it for a moment. Haven’t you ever found a mysterious comment in the margins of a dusty old secondhand book? How do you think it got there? Someone like you put it there for you to find.

Write something in the margins that will have future readers bewildered or stunned at your words. Leave little treasures that one day might be uncovered by others. Or perhaps they won’t. It doesn’t matter – you’ll never know.

Make today the day. Pick up a pen, a pencil or even a crayon and just do it. Day time or night, leave your mark. Feel no shame. If you’re to do it, do it proud.

After a little while, you’ll find you can’t stop. Sometimes I even do it in public. In plain sight, where anyone can see. Sitting on the train. In a cafe. Anywhere the story calls me to it.

Someday, if you see a madwoman with a pencil, hurling words with merry abandon, take a second look. It’s probably me. Or someone just like me.

Maybe one day it could be you.

* Actually, I’m trying to do this too, but that’s another story. Literally.**
** These largely unnecessary footnotes brought to you in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett.

Life’s little mysteries

an empty frame for glasses sitting on the footpathSome pictures tell a thousand words.

Some of them just raise questions.

Sometimes you just need to accept that life is full of intrigue.

I found these glasses recently. I didn’t take them home.

I stared at them for a little while. They stared straight back at me.

I asked them if they needed help. They seemed to say ‘please leave us be’.

I left them where them I found them.

Alone and cloaked in mystery.

Bibelots in the wild: postcards

This is the first post in an ongoing series on bibelots in the wild.

A quick happy snap of postcards pinned to a menu boardI have a story to tell. It starts here.

Or, perhaps, it starts over there. You know the place. Sure you do. It’s one of your favourite hangouts. They know you by name and know what you like, but they also know you like to surprise them occasionally.

Ringing any bells?

Of course, this place, mine or yours, could be many places. But not any place.  Any place might be a nameless multinational.  No, that’s not this place. This place has quirks.  It has some things not quite right and some things unexpected, but delightful.

This particular place is in a marketplace.  They have a wall covered with bibelots, or curios if you prefer.

They reside, unconsidered, in one corner of the cafe.  They aren’t important and it’s nothing to write home about, but, and here’s the thing, they include things that you can write home on.

A bibelot can be just about anything, but I feel sure that a postcard is almost always, once written, a bibelot for life.

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