Tuesday, December 06, 2011

In Earnest

Today I spent the afternoon carefully opening many books, the collection of my late principal, a man of great integrity, hugely varied interests, and a magpie mind which seized on facts and built palaces out of them. We were looking through the books in order to sort them out and think of a new home for them. There were more than a thousand of them.

In the curious, vacant disorder that accompanies the departure of a man who lived alone, I found an unopened drawer. It contained little brown notebooks.

They were his travel diaries; more than that, they were shared diaries co-written by his late wife, a wonderful lady who had passed on in untimely fashion decades ago. They chronicled the mundane events and the wonderful events of each day in small, meticulous writing. They had pizza one day. They spent £5 on a souvenir for an uncle. They had lists, and tables, and terse descriptions of days which they had clearly enjoyed together.

The books had not been touched for a very long while. I shut their drawer carefully, stabbed by a moment of melancholy sharpened to a sudden point.

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