‘Twas a thought, as I wandered round the 215 or so stalls in York yesterday, the bookfair at the raceourse now being the largest such event in Europe. I had seen a beautiful leather bound volume, published 160 years ago, by the pen of Alexandre Dumas, his Pictures of Travels in the South of France, including places such as the Pont du Gard, and Nimes, which we had visited a year or two back. Aside from his fine musketeering reputation I know Dumas to have been a fine travel writer, three of his works, English transaltions from 50 years ago, already gracing the shelves. Those are of a couple of my favourite areas, Czarist Russia and Morocco. I hummed and hawed until my resistance could stoop no lower, and now I need to find some shelf room.
Also looking for shelf room is a prized first edition of a work from only 8 years ago, but fast becoming a world favourite. My hope is that after The Kite Runner, author Khaled Hosseini will go on to even greater things. That one took much more humming and even more hawing, blowing as it did the budget for the day. But now it is safely at home, gathering dust as smelly old second hand books do.
Only two things spoiled a fine day away. I had the misfortune of a Motherwell ned, all shell suit, shiny trainers and football scarf in pocket, joining me afore cock-crow. He slept most of the way south, reading being a step too far, even with an iPhone, before leaving at Newcastle, but my misfortune increased as he re-joined my northbound train later, obstreporous and obnoxious after a day at the game. By the time we disembarked an hour shy of midnight he was cast for a role in River City. On top of that I learnt that back in the world of real football, Pollok FC had managed, yet again, to turn a two goal home lead into inglorious defeat, the jaws of victory prised wide open in the last few minutes. That is just not good enough, but I’ll be there next weekend regardless.
On catching up with my reading after my day’s escape, I see that former viceroy Murphy has completed his review of Labour in Scotland. It seems he wants his colleagues to have the very thing that collectively they intend to deny the electorate – independence from their London hierarchy. Whether that means a London based mind to lead the Scottish drive, or one of the ex-cooncillors in Edinburgh in the hot seat remains to be seen. At least it might mean that Elmer Fudd takes his leave before too much longer, reducing Scotland’s embarrassment on the world stage. Perhaps they’ll find him some ermine in the Lords, thereby simultaneously increasing the debating standards in both chambers. It will be interesting, if Scottish policy differs from London’s, to see what happens when the whips want a vote. Seems to me though that they are 12 years too late, only realising now that Holyrood is much more than a rural branch of their HQ, as it was when thay had control of both. Now they have control of neither, a position hard earned and so richly deserved. Currently rudderless they vie with the blue tories for inspiration and strategy. Both now seem to want a divorce from London, yet both insist that we should remain shackled to that very corpse.
I was reminded of the depths Labour had plummed yesterday when the train stopped at Darlington. The election in Sedgefield back in 2005 should have been fought between two candidates only, Blair and an anti-war stance jointly agreed by the others. However blue tory and limp-dum never could agree, as we have since found out, they all stood, the vote was shared, and Blair did not then get his come-uppance. We had to suffer him longer. I guess every silver lining has a cloud, otherwise we might have had Broon foist upon us even sooner.
The journey had more pleasant memories, as the return leg stopped at Alnmouth. It was only weeks ago we camped down at Budle Bay, tramping round Bamburgh and Alnwick, Seahouses and Lindisfarne. Alnwick, where the station that was now hosts the wonderful Barter Books, has the better of the deal and I for one shall return.
I see my friend Cyclops, a pseudonym too cruel so he shall remain simply Baldric, more polite than his preferred wbc, has been plumming the depths, sending me a link to the Daily Record, another sinking ship in the written press of these parts, oft known as the Daily Retard. I will forgive him though, as the Retard has taken up the publicity given to ITVs Holding Out for a Hero, with advance publicity for the good deeds of East Renfrewshire Good Causes. Perhaps we’ll see Baldric on those couches in the daytime TV studios, doing the round of the chat shows. Heavens, Strictly is up and running again I’m told. Could the blind man pass his doble? As if lycra and Olympic torch were not bad enough, but sequins and glitterballs, enough I say.