Map of Blue Book Balloon

31 December 2014

Post Christmas tidy

My son's LEGO collection grew last week, demanding extra space for display.  One set in particular - a glorious '20s style cinema - is rather ominous as it is part of an interlocking streetscape... the first part we have, but I suspect not the last: Lego helpfully provide a range of other compatible models, and I suspect some of these will be arriving in due course. (Son's birthday is a couple of months away). It is an "expert" level set and suggests that he has arrived at a level of Lego mastery - and expense - that will consume shelf space even faster than books do

I share a spare bedroom with Son which we use as an office/ sitting room.  When we moved in two years ago, I arranged my older files on top of an IKEA unit... which it turns out is an ideal site for a LEGO street.  So I've been clearing some space: most of the files and papers weren't needed, really. (To think that in 2004 I would carefully print out online instructions for networking a Mac and a PC, or the online help for "My Mac runs slow" or whatever...)

Anyway, these clearing exercises are never containable and of course I didn't stop till I'd rearranged everything on my desk, everything under my desk, the piles of papers and books hidden under the bookcase and a lot else.  Which brought to light something I thought I'd lost, this little book.

It's an edition of AE Housman's A Shropshire Lad which belonged to my father - although looking at the publication date (1922, Grant Richards, London) I now suspect it was handed down to him, as my father was only born a couple of years before.  My guess is it belonged to his father, who dies in the early 50s.  My father's parents separated when he was small - he used to tell a story of his mother taking the children away to Wales, where they were supported by her in-laws, and him (my father) riding his tricycle round on the platform at Paddington Station while his parents argued.  (Just try that today!)

I don't know what led to this split.  It would presumably have been a great scandal in the 1920s, especially given that the family (both sides) were strict Methodists - but the family were clearly taking his mother's side.  All old history now - I never knew my grandfather (I was born in the 60s)  and I have a faint memory of my grandmother as an old lady sitting up in bed.

Whatever, I'm glad that I found the book.  Apart from the family connection, it is a beautiful object (with, I think, cut pages) and I find these verses - tales of doomed youths awaiting the gallows in Ludlow town or going away to war - very moving, if somewhat sentimental.  It may not be the greatest poetry ever, but is very readable, quotable - and of course has a deep resonance today.

Which may seem a gloomy note on which to end 2014, but I do find New Year's Eve a gloomy (if somewhat sentimental) time.  

Best wishes to anyone reading this for 2015 (if it is 2015 for you)! 

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