Bid Time Return

By: | Post date: May 17, 2009 | Comments: 2 Comments
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The cleanout of my books complete, I’m slowly trying to rearrange them into place in my garage. There’s a couple of duplicates that have been mercilessly discarded—I didn’t need both the 3rd and the 5th edition of O’Reilly Javascript book, or two Perl in a Nutshell books. One might further argue that I don’t need either, now that noone in IT uses dead trees. I’m still somewhat sentimental about these things, even though on the few occasions I have a Perl query (and, mercifully, even fewer occasions for a JavaScript query), I google it—or use the Perl Books on CD that came with the O’Reillys.

I’m also getting rid of my high school violin. Eventually. Don’t want to discuss it. The baglama stays; the fact that I don’t play it either is overall less traumatic.

One of the books ferried across Saturday for hosting in the garage is one of two or three hardcovers my Dad bought me when I was seven. Bid Time Return, by Fairlie Taylor (née Addie Fairlam). The book was the childhood reminiscences of young Addie, born 1887, written when she was close to 90; they’re engagingly wide-eyed, and describe a very different world to anything I’d ever experienced. I read the book when in Launceston, in I guess 1978. Eight years later, in a novelistic coincidink, I was living in the same Cheltenham that Addie grew up with. Well, it wasn’t the same Cheltenham; our street was market gardens until the 1980s, Southland Shopping Centre has taken out a huge chunk of the suburb, and of course the cityscape is nothing like what Fairlie was describing. No horses, no hats, no pothooks as the introduction to handwriting, no Protestant–Catholic hostility, no thirteen year old girls running auction houses.

But Charman Rd is still there, with the railway station even older than her—even if her father’s auction house (and brother’s photography shop) aren’t. (And even if, because of Southland, the shops around the railway station tend not to do as well.) The cemetery behind the railway station is still there—now, according to some high school kids’ history assignment, housing Fairlie as well. Cheltenham Primary School is still there, and for all I know so are the tree stumps they’d play around.

I never loved Cheltenham, despite living there for twenty years all up: it was a dormitory suburb, not enough going on, the action was in the City and Carlton and Northcote. And heaven knows, I couldn’t write 170 pp on my childhood at twenty years’ remove, let alone seventy. Nor am I any better off for writing a sequel: I have no memory and no attention span and no accretion. And of course I can no longer even read a book all the way through: page, page, skip 10 pages, skip 50, back 30, and completely missed how exactly that Callum chap got to be the lost love of her life. (Things got telescoped once she got to teacher’s college.) Still. Would that I could write as vividly and engagingly at 37, leave alone 90…

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