No, I think we all need a break from the alphabet. I just couldn’t resist.
I was lying in bed this morning, resenting that it was earlier than I wanted to get up but light, when it would be dark so early this afternoon, and I started to think about the library book I started last night, and the one I started a couple of nights before. I had them in different rooms and I was up to about page 20 in one and page 50 in the other. And I thought, I’m not really enjoying them. One is okay, nothing to dislike but not the sort of read to engage and interest, but last night’s was less appealing. You could see the clichéd characters appear in the first few pages and it was a series of set pieces. Not unreadable, but I just didn’t care. And I thought, I’m not going to read it. Or the other. I can’t be bothered. I don’t have to.
I’m getting more inclined to give up on books. I think it’s because there are so many that just aren’t good enough. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, and I don’t flinch from a *difficult* book or from characters I don’t like, or from a style that takes a while to get into. But, you know, too many books are published. Whoever reads them all? I read a whole lot of blogs that are a great deal more interesting and engaging than published books, and I’ll include prizewinners amongst them.
While I was lying there – look, I’d no reason to leap out of bed and it was warm and comfortable – it further occurred to me that I’m getting more picky generally. What came into my mind was dogs.
I grew up with dogs and have nearly always lived with at least one. We didn’t have a dog for the first few years we were married, and after Simon died we were another four years before we got Chester as a puppy, and Tilly joined us several years later. When I was a child, I was used to knowing that dogs came first. It was a family joke that, often, we all sat on the floor because dogs were in all the chairs. I slept with four dogs on my bed – they were all large, labrador-type mongrels. I was adept at walking seven dogs at a time.
Things changed when I was married. I’ve never let a dog sleep on my bed since – my husband comes first in this house and always will (you’re allowed to tell the Sage I said that) and, largely because things got a bit out of control when my mother ended up with eleven dogs, I’ve always been sure I’d never go the way she did. In fact, and never say I don’t learn by other people’s mistakes and not only my own, I’ve been well put off getting a dog from the RSPCA. That was always where she went to rescue a dog, but the last two they gave her were totally unsuitable and, like some adopted children I know, were so disturbed that they should never have been foisted on someone who wasn’t fully prepared for the problems. My mother coped, but it was a pity that she had to give all the support to a dog, when the dog should have been a friend and companion to her. She became unaware of the burden and sort of needed it in the end – she’d have felt rejected by a normal healthy cheerful animal and wanted to have to give her pet all her attention, however much trouble it was.
I first noticed an alteration in my attitude recently, when chatting to a friend on the phone, whose son and his girlfriend had just moved to a place of their own, having been living with her for a couple of years. I asked how it felt and she admitted that she really misses his dog. (!) I said, do think hard before getting a dog of your own and curtailing your freedom, you’ve not been burden-free in so many years (her own beloved dogs died a few years ago and so did her cats). Now, all my life, I’ve thought a dog is far more important than being fancy free and able to go off at a moment’s notice. But I said it before knowing I was going to, you know?
I’ll have to come back to this and explain, once I’ve quite worked out, what I mean. It’s all getting a bit long now.