Wednesday, 23 June 2010

21 Years Later

The other day, I finished reading "The Man Who Watched the Trains Go Past", by Georges Simenon, put it in it's proper place on my bookshelf (next to "The Yellow Dog" by the same author), and checked my store of unread volumes to decide what to tackle next.

Eventually I chose "The Dam", by Spiros Plaskovitis.

It's a novel that was written in 1961, and is about a dam. I don't really know any more than that. So far, we've been introduced to the dam, and to the workers who take care of it. Funny things are happening, but because they're outside their routine, they just ignore them. Until an engineer turns up unannounced and asks them where the cracks are. Cracks? What cracks?

No doubt things will either become clearer or more obscure - I've no idea what kind of novel it is, though I suspect it's not something I would have normally bought.

On the first page, there is an inscription with my name and a date. And a price (£9).

When I was younger, I used to write my name, place and the date in every book I bought. Since I don't keep diaries and can't remember much that happened to me longer ago than a few days, these inscriptions are pretty much all that remain of my younger self. When my father died, I was reading Anthony Trollope's "The Way We Live Now", and I wrote the date at the top of the page that I was on.

I've long since given up defacing my books in this manner, and of course nowadays I have a blog to record anything interesting that happens in my madcap life.

Anyway, back to "The Dam". From what little I remember, I was staying in London for a week with a group of students, and we went on various day trips by coach. One of these was to Cambridge.

Of course, I made a point of visiting the Mathematical Bridge.

Picture: Chris Millar. License

And being a University town, they had a large academic bookshop. As the 19-year-old me was intending to get down to some serious work learning Modern Greek in the near future (I'd only been putting it off for about 4 or 5 years at that point), I found the bookshop's small Greek section and picked a book. I'm not sure why I chose that particular one. Obviously not for its exciting cover. I do remember that I had to look up the title in a dictionary once I got home.

And now, 21 years later, the time has finally come. I've read ten pages so far, which is nine-and-a-half more than I've managed before. If I'd known then that it would take me this long, maybe I'd have saved my £9. After all, that was probably a lot of money at the time - it would have bought at least 6 pints (less than 3 today). Or maybe I'd have bought it and filled that front page with notes about my visit to Cambridge. So that instead of one solitary memory about a bridge, I'd have at least another blog post's worth. The problem with young people is that they just don't think ahead.


Jean Knee said...

you know, if I could drink I'd trade almost all my books.

the dam is getting cracks? eeek sounds like BP

are you sure it's Greek?

Brian o vretanos said...

He hasn't said who they got to build the dam.

Super Happy Girl said...

"Things will either become clearer or more obscure." I loved that.

Also, I love the idea of writing the date on the book.

You are full of great ideas Brian!

Bee said...

I envy the fact that you have things from so long ago. I've moved around so much I have nothing I can say I've had for over 20 years.

It's also awesome that you can now read a book you've saved for all that time. You are one determined dude!

People for a New Blog Post said...

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