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Amaryllis Does It Herself

I had a few days off at the beginning of the wee:. I didn’t go anywhere; like Dorothy I prefer home and home is very beautiful at this time of year. It was made more so by the arrival of thousands of Brent Geese from Siberia tempted by the legendary happiness of my part of the world and the finest green algae. It is glorious to see them in flight formation and extraordinarily deafening to hear thousands of them honking with glee, a great improvement on the sounds of the city.
As well as watching and listening to the geese, I decided to put my few days to good use and indulge my artistic bent by making a start on decorating my living space. I started with the bookshelves: try as I might, I could find no way round painting the shelves whilst the books were on them so I had to remove and rehome hundreds of books before I could begin. I wished that my children could have chosen this weekend for a visit despite their constant refrain that I have too many books… but after the zillionth trip up and down the stepladder I was starting to think that maybe they had a point. I mean I would reread some of them but probably not most of them and those that had been reread were looking a bit shabby etc etc. But once I had cleared the shelves I realised how naked and boring the walls looked. Books really do furnish a room, especially when you don’t have much else in the way of furnishings. They provide colour, insulation, interest and a talking point. I don’t mean to be judgemental but books are the first things I look for and the non-existence or lack of books is not a great start to any relationship. What happens in the event of an awkward silence over the cups of coffee without the title of a book jumping out to rescue you? In fact, generally, I don’t see the point of any conversation that doesn’t begin with ‘have you read…’ or ‘recently I read’. So, I didn’t actually throw any books out and they will soon be returned to their lovingly, although not terribly neatly it has to be said, painted shelves.
I made a very exciting discovery on the last day of my mini-holiday: I was ambling through the streets near to home, when I spotted a shop sign that made my heart sing – bookshop – which I hadn’t seen before! So I entered forthwith into one of the most beautiful second hand bookshops in recent memory. It was a jewel of a bookshop: not very big but the books were delightfully arranged by publisher and so all the old orange penguins were together and the blue and the green and the silver; and the old picadors and penguin black classics. These were the days when Penguin covers were artistic gems in a kaleidoscope of colours and the books could sit on a table for more than a day without expanding to resemble a fan… It was beautifully stocked, just the sort of books you would find in the home of a kindred spirit; actually it was very like my own collection!
Not a terribly great week for reading: a dreadful new book about arctic exploration which promised so much but mistakenly decided half-way through that exploration of the body in a 50 Shades of Grey sort of way was the way to go. I am, however, loving Hagseed, Margaret Atwood’s new rendition of the Tempest not least because it has a passage that lists all the Shakespearean words of abuse that apply admirably and timelessly to Trump, Blair, Green amongst others.
Lastly, I would like to say how I shall much I shall miss my monthly telephone conversation with a dear fellow reader and lover of such wonderful books as Dorothy Whipple, Barbara Pym and Elena Ferrante. Her honest and engaging response to my selection of books was a treat and always brightened up my day.

About Amaryllis


Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.


Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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