Tuesday, August 04, 2009

One You Could Press A Rose In

I've always wanted a big book. There is something about a big book : it invites big thoughts, it encourages big projects, it promises to leave a big impression for those who follow on. I have often seen big books in the dusty windows of side-streeted stationery shops. Minute books, ledgers, anything-but-commonplace books. I am seized by an almost physical desire to go in and buy one even though I would have nothing to put in it. Such books can't be filled with shopping lists, to-do lists and half-remembered Internet passwords. The book I carry around with me is tiny, it fits in my back pocket. It is convenient, it is handy, it is a canvass wide enough to encompass my modest life. But I wish I had a big book. Leather bound, marbled end-paged. One you could press a rose in.


  1. I keep a little 8x6" spiral notebook on my desk and it's full of notes I jot down from my blog visits...names of authors, artists, films and a few passwords, etc. It's definitely not one to press a rose in.

    I do love to find a vintage book, in one of my favorite second hand bookstores, with the surprise of a pressed flower or little piece of treasured ephemera from the past.

  2. Half-remembered Internet passwords...I have a ton of the written down in a little book! Then I decided maybe 2 good passwords were enough for everything.

    The book you have pictured is wonderful! I love that old style handwriting!

  3. I think you should indulge yourself & get one--me, I'm not much for handwriting anymore--pretty much all my writing is done on a keyboard.

  4. Just checking in, I don't always write but thanks for your comments. I enjoy your writing.

  5. my pockets are always full of scraps of paper/old reciepts/torn up newspapers that i write my lists & thoughts on..........I also use the back of my hand unless its rainy or i am going to swim or sauna (my thoughts get washed away!)!

  6. I have more notebooks than you can shake a stick at... but the book you have pictured is real quality. I wouldn't want to spoil it with my naff handwriting though! (so maybe it's sole use should be pressing roses.. what a lovely thought)

  7. I think we still have a huge book given me by a step uncle, Don Quixote. Given me when I was about 6 or something.

    I tried to persuade him to make me a model working steam engine on his lathe. But I was only about 6.

    The curious fact is that he clearly told me his real nature in giving me the book because he quixotically gave his small fortune to his house-keeper in his will. It was slightly disappointing because I'd vaguely hoped to inherit his lathe and his huge workshop... not that we had anywhere to fit it. But I so loved it.

    He left his fortune to his "housekeeper"... possibly his common-law wife, nobody has ever made clear. Step-son of my mother's other direct aunt. It was ages before I was told all the devious natures of my relatives. The jeweller sort-of relative, for example, I was told had a kleptomanic wife he had to bail out all the time. She didn't seem like that when I met her for playing the organ at my brother's first wedding..... not at all.

    I had to wonder if the family story was true. My aunt's companion had to hold down the organ seat for me to play because the pedalling was really tricky. We pretended it was to turn the pages, actually it was to hold down the seat...

    Must see if I still have the DonQuixote.. I think we buried it somewhere... we used to have a dedicated floer pressing box, by the way!

  8. It's interesting to discover what everyone keeps in their notebooks. John, I have indulged myself in the past and left the book totally unused, not daring to spoil its virgin pages. KR, the one in the picture is unfortunately not mine ... but I'll come back to it tomorrow.

  9. Edwin, I got a bit confused. Did the jewellers sort-of kleptomanic wife steal the organ seat?

  10. Ali, no, no, different relative. My aunt Margaret's companion Stella held down the organ seat for my playing for my brother's first wedding which was the one and only time I met the supposedly kleptomaniac relative Nora... from a generation older. She was from the slightly remoter branch of my family that included the quixotic step-uncle, Harold, who gave me the huge edition of Don Quixote when I was 6 or something.

    Just shows I should have just said I had a particularly huge book and not tried to relay where it came from and my associated memories. They get so complicated.

  11. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Alan, I carry rond one of those "composition" type books as a main write-all but have the pocket sized ones for jotting down passing thoughts. And have found quite a few flowers pressed into books, from time to time( among other things )...

    @Willow, 'tis a link to whoever had the book previously, even if one does not nkow who it was, yes?

  12. "Big" concerning books is a state of mind, is it not?


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...