‘….or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.’


“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”

 Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

 My first customer today is entertaining. He said : I am trying for The Lark ( Henley, T.E ) but something else got in there instead, it was The Heron (Farley, Paul ) a brilliant, brilliant piece that won’t let you EVER forget it!. So I’m starting my work again, and the book I need is The Poetry of Birds, edited by two people, can’t remember who. But at the beginning, there’s an intro, first line goes like this: Most of the poems in this book were written without the aid of binoculars. And in the book is this poem, The Heron, it’s about flight, it’ll make you laugh, it’s fabulous! Can you get me this book?

A man put his head through the door and said: mate, have you got the Yates Garden Guide? I said that I did and he said that this is good because gardening stopped him from going mental.

A lady, listening in, sympathised with him and also advised me that my shop needed more Steinbeck, more Wodehouse and also more pedestrian crossings in Strathalbyn. She said her husband would go mad if she stayed any longer but she would buy the Clive James (who is fascinating).

I told Leon that I didn’t read vampire books and he said that I shouldn’t say that to the customers. It is better to keep quiet and make sure the books are in the correct order.

I spend some time putting all the vampire books in the correct order.

I was informed that Ezra Pound did not like Henry James and that some people had thought that Henry James did all his work in shallow waters but that turned out to be quite wrong. This reader bought five of Henry James’s novels even though he had ‘no time to read at all’.

A young reader bought Paddington, remembering how happy it once made her when it was read to her as a child and looked forward to this happening again.

A new visitor commented that the passing of Umberto Eco was a huge loss to the world. He bought The Prague Cemetery, pleased to have a hardback copy as his paper back volume had broken its back. He said that Umberto Eco soared over the rest of those European hacks.

I learned that:

The Poisonwood Bible asks the proper questions and Ulysses is just one big question.

A.S.Byatt, (Possession: A Romance) did not get on well with her sister.

Stephen Fry is hil-ar-i-ous!!

That reading put you under the guardianship of the best minds, providing you made sure you looked for the best minds. Like Frank Herbert, John Wyndham and possibly Isaac Asimov.

That reading historical books was a backwards take off into the past and did I have the fourth book by Jean Auel in the Mammoth People series.

Seeing without binoculars.

The Heron

One of the most begrudging avian take-offs

is the heron’s fucking hell, all right, all right,

I’ll go to the garage for your flaming fags

cranky departure, though once they’re up

their flight can be extravagant. I watched

one big spender climb the thermal staircase.

a calorific waterspout of frogs

and sticklebacks, the undercarriage down

and trailing. Seen from antiquity

you gain the Icarus thing; seen from my childhood

that cursing man sets out for Superkings,

though the heron cares for neither as it struggles

into its wings then soars sunwards and throws

its huge overcoat across the earth.

Paul Farley



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