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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Days pass.




Not only have I packed 17 boxes full of my books but also I have done all the marking to which I have access. Virtue can go no further!

The intensity of the marking fury that has taken over the school is now almost comical as teachers frantically evaluate against an inexorable timetable which demands that papers are marked over a very short period of time.

I have now marked the papers of four out of my five classes and the last set is waiting for me in the staff room of building one.

As time has gone on I have become much more Draconian in my demands for Real English and my exuberant red crosses march across many sanguine sheets of attempts to maul the majesty of the English Language.

If anyone is going to commit a linguistic crime against the language of Shakespeare, Milton and A A Milne then it is most definitely going to be me rather than some foreign neophyte. At least my infelicities are committed with malice of forethought and not because phrasal verbs are incomprehensible obstacles to communication!

On the packing front, more perfectly sized IKEA boxes have been purchased (at vast expense) and the filled ones are now forming a familiar island of lightish brown in the centre of the room. Even with my cruelly depleted selection of books in the flat, it is probably going to take some sixty boxes to contain the fragments of a proper library that I have had to sulk over during the past two years.

I suppose that my bubbling enthusiasm to see my books again sounds precious and affected but only to those who are not touched by the bibliophilic addiction that has gripped me for as long as I can remember.

The physical proximity of my books is important as are the different characters that the individual volumes possess. The feel of a book; the way it sits in your hand; the texture of the paper; the sounds, the susurration of the pages; the smell of mustiness, of newness – a books is a sensual object, a physical presence, something which is graspable yet intangible at the same time.

I have never managed to get over the sheer value of most of my books. What they offer is often ludicrously out of proportion to the paltry sums that I have paid for them. I remember a series of Wordsworth Classics which offered Classic texts in paperback for one pound. ‘Wuthering Heights’ or ‘Emma’ or ‘Great Expectations’ or ‘Lord Jim’ or ‘The Just So Stories’ or ‘The Warden’ for a quid! You couldn’t get a packet of crisps on a Ryanair flight for that!

When Ruskin said that “If a book is worth reading it is worth buying” he meant that every book that is worthy of being read should become a familiar possession. A book which is not merely a text, but is a familiar companion; something you know your way around and which (as it is yours) you can be free to annotate and use as a ‘partner’ in debate. I rarely annotate as I still maintain a stuffy reverence for the printed word which sees my scrawl on a pristine page as little less than sacrilege rather than a continuing dialogue with the author!

I am even looking forward to the torture of constructing a whole phalanx of ‘Billy’ bookcases to house the freed captives from the prison of Bluspace.

The time is rapidly approaching when the Bluspace Thousands will at last come home!

Roll on!
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