Sunday 14 February 2016

If books had feelings some of mine would be crying today!

As my family will tell you I have lots of books. There are bookcases in my study (2), in the lounge, in the front hall and in the dining room (2) to say nothing of the many boxes of books that live in the utility room or in the walk-in wardrobe upstairs.

Once a book has been relegated to the boxes in the utility room they have little chance of every being read again. To slightly paraphrase my daughter, "I will store them there until I die, then somebody else will throw them away." Some of the boxes I looked at today had been sealed up for nearly 20 years which both amused and shocked me.

After many years of "living" in the dining room my set of Jennings books have been packed up and will probably not emerge into the daylight again in the foreseeable future. There are 23 novels in the series and it is a curious fact that although I have read some of the books many times there is one I have never seen, never mind read. Jennings at Large (#23) was an experiment by the author that didn't work according to many other enthusiasts and so I have never felt motivated to search for a copy.

The Jennings books are timeless in that the hero stays the same age throughout the series. This of course is a strength and a weakness but by the end of the 23 books all the best story lines have been used over and over again. Other series gradually allow the characters to age (The Lone Pine series does this) and the famous Chalet stories are spread out over many years and perhaps they benefit from this editorial decision.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

I received my first posthumous email today.

My long-time friend Charles died on Monday 1st February 2016 - and how did I know this? Because he told me!

When Charles found out last June that he was suffering from cancer he arranged with his daughter that as soon as he died a final message would be sent out to his various on-line friends scattered around the world. In practice Charles had so many different hobbies that he had to create four different messages and four different mailing lists that reflected the different aspects of his busy life!

I first came across Charles through our shared interest in amateur astronomy. He and I were part of a small group who used to exchange news and views a couple of times a month. But as the years went by our numbers gradually reduced. Hannah died, far too young, and we were down to four and then in 2013 two other members gave up practical astronomy as advancing years and retreating finances took their toll. Eventually Charles, my friend and sounding board in the USA, also decided to retire from the wonderful world of science to take up golf and fossil hunting and after a long and amusing "do you remember when" email he and I went our separate ways.

And now he is gone. None of my close family knew Charles, except perhaps as a name I mentioned occasionally, so there is nobody to share my loss. I suspect that many of us have E-pals or Internet Friends and sometimes, if you are anything like me, one of them will suddenly vanish from your in box and you will be left wondering what happened to them. I think the idea of a posthumous email is both considerate and quite poignant and it certainly something that members of this group might want to consider creating.