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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Amelie told me yesterday that she'd like Chloe to have lots of little white kittens. I told her that's unlikely to happen, so naturally she asked me why. With hindsight, I probably should have just pointed out that Chloe's fifteen, and the cat equivalent of Barbara Cartland. Except that her ivory tower's a council block. Unfortunately I was a bit more honest. So I'm now being pestered to buy a boy cat.

That was just one of the charming conversations we had yesterday while Lisa was out at the AA convention. Frankly it was more tiring than going to work. But I did enjoy the moment when Amelie discovered that I'd neatly placed two of her books inside the book stack table, at which point she turned to me and said "Daddy, you're a genius!". At least she got something right.

On the subject of books and intellectual decisions, I bought a classic work of poetry on Friday. And what's more, I've read it. Although some of the pages were missing. I was working in Crawley, so naturally I found myself in the Save the Children charity shop at lunchtime, where they were having a half-price January sale. I was browsing the bric-a-brac, and I came across this...

Poems of Shelley
If that looks like the inside page of a poetry book, it's because it is. Unfortunately the rest of the book wasn't attached. Someone had taken the first two pages of a book called 'Poems of Shelley', personally inscribed to Stella with a heartfelt Christmas message from Madge and Janine (Jonnie? Jannice?), and then framed it. And 'Save the Children' were selling it for 50p. Reduced to 25p in the sale.

I spent so long puzzling over this, I almost made myself late back to work, so in the end I decided it was worth spending 25p on the mystery, and bought it.

The point is this: if I were Stella, and Madge had given me a work of poetry for Christmas, I would certainly be inclined to chuck most of the book in the bin. Particularly as Madge clearly doesn't like me enough to put 'Dear', 'Love', or spell the word 'Christmas'. I'm not sure I'd have bothered to keep the inscription, and I certainly wouldn't have spent money on a frame, but other than that, it makes sense.

However, that can't be what happened. Above the inky words of her Madgesty is the date 10/06 and the price £1.00, both written in pencil. Now, if Madge is half the woman I think she is, there's no way she'd have inscribed a book to Stella without removing the price first. She's economical with her words, but she doesn't want to look like a cheapskate.

So it wasn't Stella who framed it. It was Stella who sold it. I'm liking her more and more. In fact, I'd buy Stella a beer if I met her. So Stella clearly received the book prior to 2006, put up with it for at least six months, and then chucked it out in the summer. It must have been sold as a book for a pound (a bargain, because it's £4.50 here), at which point the person who bought it decided that the poems of Shelley were rubbish, but the inscription was worth framing. The question is, why?.

Presumably Madge meant nothing to them, and if they thought it was valuable, they wouldn't have ripped it out of the book. Or given it away to charity and let an idiot buy it for 25p. It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma. I suggested to Lisa that we hang it on the living room wall as a conversation piece, but she wasn't keen. Apparently we talk enough rubbish without putting junk on the wall.