Tragedy struck this morning; I have been working my way through my much thumbed and totally beloved series of Mapp & Lucia books, spurred on by a gift from Y.D., for Mother's day, of a set of dvd's from the T.V., series. Horror of horror's the spine cracked, and the pages of Miss Mapp scattered to the four corners of the study.
Yes, I admit, I was "skiving" it was raining [those misty showers that soak you] and I had come in from the garden, comforted myself with a cuppa, and decided to wait out this current shower with a ramble through Miss Mapp when disaster struck. Two hours later and copious lengths of sello-tape and she is restored, stiffly. Relief has set in. I ADORE E F Benson, and to loose one of my moth-eaten copies would be heart breaking...yes, I could e-bay and amazon and all that jazz, but if, like me, you are a true book worm - you know that the original copy is always the best.
Is there anything nicer than those first moments, you install yourself in a favourite chair, in a quiet corner. Tenderly opening the cover of the newly acquired book, the fresh feel of it, the crisp smell of newly printed pages...it is one of life's wonderful comforts, a joy to the soul. I pity anybody who does not get a kick out of "new book symdrome"...OH is one such; we are total opposites. He reads the newspapers to inform himself, will sort through autobiographies of John Wayne and others, but sit down and get lost within the pages he will not do it! He's the action man to my curled up with a good book persona.
I thoroughly enjoyed my May Bank Holiday Monday this year. Up early to drop E.D into Dublin, we drove up North Great Georges Street in Dublin 1; Georgian houses in faded beauty. I once attended business college here; in those days the street was like a downtrodden Molly Malone, drooping over her wheelbarrow. Sadly the street now seems to have attracted "budget accommodation", which is nice for those travelling on a shoestring budget, but it is as if the Celtic Tiger missed the street. Everywhere else endured re-juvenation, mock-Georgian cheek by jowl with vividly painted "modern take" on what passes for someone's idea of Georgian. South of the Liffey there is more a sense of refurbishment of the existing buildings, the north/south divide of the city alive as ever it was.
In my youth on my way to the college, I walked up Gardiner Street each morning in hail, rain or snow. There seemed to be very few sunny days, and if there were, the high old Georgian tenements certainly made certain that the sun was locked out. Add to that the problem of smog and it was usually a case of head down and dash up the street.
In those days Gardiner Street had little to recommend it; it was positively Dickensian in appearance, and my fanciful late teenage mind often wondered what lurked behind the cracked and broken doors. Windows often stuffed with cloth or newspaper. There seemed to be few children around in the evenings when I raced back down again to catch my train. The great escape, getting out of Dodge as quickly as possible.
Those were the days when horses pulling drays could still, on occasion, be found. The whole area reeked of poverty and slums, and yet I loved it...it was dear old dirty Dublin and the stench on a warm day emanating from the Liffey could knock you off your feet. The stench from the tenements did. Almost.
In the intervening years city planners have swept away these last vestiges of an Empire's rule in Ireland, replacing it in more recently prosperous years with an attempt of 'glamourisation'. Blocks of apartments which, for some reason, never quite caught the Southside glamour. Dust and dirt off the streets makes an unappealing cover, a ghostly reminder of the dust and dirt that once covered their predecessors.
The vibrancy of Temple Bar never seemed to make it this far up through the city. Yet once again yesterday morning it awakened that old love and sympathy for it in my heart, just as it did in my youth.
After leaving the city we headed out for the great retail parks of Blanchardstown. A visit to Home Stores was called for. Since I have given Mum's tiny kitchen a makeover, a few bright and shiny pieces of stainless steel are called for. Apart from their obvious uses they reflect the newly rediscovered sunlight in the kitchen. We have been busy cutting down the trees that had grown up since I left here to take up residence in the marital home. They had totally blocked out the light, even the birds weren't tempted to nest among their thick branches. Now all is light even on a misty May morning. It is amazing how much light a stainless steel collander bounces around a small kitchen.
There is something soul-less about these retail parks. They are convenient yes, and you can literally get anything from a needle to an anchor, but you still cannot beat a quiet browse around those rapidly vanishing local providers wherein you had a gossip with the staff, a laugh, and even if you paid a pound more, it was always worth it in the end.