100 untimed books: surrender anyway

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59. surrender anyway

Some books, you know that if you so much as pick them up, the rest of the afternoon, the rest of the weekend, will just disappear. If they’re the first in the a series, make that a fortnight you’ve just lost. And yet you open them anyway…

(I didn’t get this in Asda for £1.99. I got it in a charity shop for 50p.)

100 untimed books

100 untimed books: missing

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61. missing

One of these days I will get around to buying a hardback copy of Veronica at the Wells and ditching that horrible paperback anthology. The irony is that Veronica is probably my favourite of the whole series – either that or No Castanets – but every time I think about it I end up buying one of the later ones, which I haven’t read, instead. But they’re not nearly so good.

100 untimed books

100 untimed books: frames

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77. frames

When we moved into this flat, I spent rather more money than I could properly afford on getting some pictures framed. They were an eclectic collection: a screen-printed poster from one of the artists in the Brighton arcades; a photograph of my godmother; a honeymoon Montmartre drawing and a watercolour landscape; three photographs that I’d taken myself. That morning at the picture framer’s, searching through all the frames and mounts to find the ones that made the pictures sing – a ridged wood frame to echo the back platform of the bus, a gold edge to bring out the warmth of the red crayon, three different mounts for my three different photographs, with identical silver frames to tie them together – was enjoyable and enlightening. I’d never realised how much there was to it.

It took me a while to get around to getting some picture hooks. The first chapter of Fair Play stuck in my mind:

Jonna had a happy habit of waking each morning as if to a new life, which stretched before her straight through to evening, clean, untouched, rarely shadowed by yesterday’s worries and mistakes.

Another habit – or rather a gift, equally surprising – was her flood of unexpected and spontaneous ideas. Each lived and blossomed powerfully for a time until suddenly swept away by a new impulse demanding its own undeniable space. Like now this business about the frames. Several months earlier, Jonna had decided she wanted to frame some of the pictures by fellow artists that Mari had on her walls. She made some very pretty frames, but when they were ready to hang, Jonna was seized by new ideas and the pictures were left standing around on the floor.

“For the time being,” Jonna said. “And for that matter, your whole collection needs rehanging, top to bottom. It’s hopelessly conventional.” Mari waited and said nothing. In fact, it felt good having things unfinished, a little as if she had just moved in and didn’t have to take the thing so seriously.

100 untimed books