The lady who read The Silver Brumby

Old Woman Reading Boris Mayorov (2)

Two ladies, friends, came in together and split immediately into classics and crime. A third lady entered, passed her friends without greeting and folded herself into young readers; horses, ponies, Australian classics, where she sat with The Silver Brumby until the others had finished. She looked up once to say that I did not have the complete series here. She said she thought that I would have that. And Tennyson.
One of the other ladies had worked hard to bring down a volume of Heinrich Boll, short stories from the top shelf – she was delighted because as a young girl she had read this book in German. She’d had to translate one of the stories from German to English at school. If only she’d had this very book she could have cheated the whole assignment through. Both ladies leaned in and laughed darkly. The Silver Brumby lady read on silently.
The friend who had read Boll in German brought the book to me and described one story, a girl who crossed a bridge halfway but would go no further; she had never forgotten this story. They prepared to leave, rustling, packing, removing reading glasses.
The third lady brought her books to the counter and reminded me that I didn’t have the complete set (or Tennyson) and that she was disappointed.
She said, you’ve probably not read Tennyson.
She said, you’re a thousand years too young. I looked at her, delighted.

Artwork: Old Woman Reading, Boris Mayorov

A Pirate Needs the Sight of the Sea…


“There was a single blue line of crayon drawn across every wall in the house. What does it mean? I asked. A pirate needs the sight of the sea, he said and then he pulled his eye patch down and turned and sailed away.”   Brian Andreas, Story People

I don’t know this book, Story People. Somebody asked for it once and gave me these lines, written on a piece of paper. He said he’s been looking for the book ever since he read this and that these words have been in his mind ever since.

They have been in my mind ever since, too.

Since I cannot forget them, I understand that the world has become a fraction changed because of them.

Today Robert asked for all of the Ainslie Roberts Dreamtime series. He says that the images in the paintings settle into his mind and give meaning to his writing and illuminate the way that his research should be going. And that even though he has books stacked against every wall in the house he is still looking for more clues and directions.

David told me that his life was never the same after reading Jean Rhys. And once somebody told me that reading Spike Milligan changed their world.

“This unlikely story begins on a sea that was a blue dream, as colourful as blue-silk stockings, and beneath a sky as blue as the irises of children’s eyes. From the western half of the sky the sun was shying little golden disks at the sea–if you gazed intently enough you could see them skip from wave tip to wave tip until they joined a broad collar of golden coin that was collecting half a mile out and would eventually be a dazzling sunset.”

Scott Fitzgerald, Flappers and Philosophers

After I read this, everything about the word evening changed.

The broad collar of golden coin has never left me. And neither still has the single blue line of crayon.

Is it possible to absorb lines like this and to simply not know the meanings (yet)?

The city is built

To music, therefore never built at all,

And therefore built forever.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Somebody said that it is a good thing that I have Ann Patchett and Michael Ondaatjie shelved side by side, two great writers…

Ruth picked up her books on shipwrecks and was looking forward to a good night in.

I was advised to read Romulus, My Father and lent a copy of Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge.

I wonder what the 13 year old customer who bought William Faulkner last week is making of him…

I admired a copy of The Starthorn Tree that a young reader brought in to show me and listened to an explanation of why Dr Seuss is still so popular.

I am looking for a copy of Romulus, My Father.