Thursday 19 January 2023

Lucky is the wife whose husband is ...

Carcoar. En route to Adelaide. Note free town library

"I've finished a bit early. Are you free to pick me up?"

"Will come as soon as I can. Just helping to prepare my invoice. I didn't anticipate being here for two hours, but I got what I came for and a bit more," my husband replied.

"No rush. See you when you get here."

I tucked the phone in my handbag and, half closing my eyes, lifted my chin, filling my lungs with the salty air. Images of my last visit overlaid the blue and gold palette in front of me. There they were. My young children. Static and single-framed, like the press-out dolls of a longtime ago birthday present would have been if I had ever dared to destroy the perfection of the pages of two-dimensional paper models and their garments with tiny, hard-to-cut-out, square tabs, and hold them up to the horizon. 

It was one of those days when the insistent screech of the seagulls was unrelenting but not at all annoying, and, like my attempts to master the adjustable focus on my first real camera, the cries succeeded in blurring the past with the present. 

The footpath was bordered by a foot-high cement edge and, checking first that I was not readying myself for inclusion in a giant ant colony, I settled down to wait, my brown dress blending with the beige uniformity of the luxury apartment buildings across the road. 

Our conference chairs had been set to face the sand but between us and the rolling waves a thick blockout blind had been pulled down. Probably a good thing, I surmised, as I had lost the good student habit of sitting, listening and taking notes and was relieved when an early halt had been called to the hot afternoon session.

Photo taken at Victor Harbor. Not at site of conference.

"Do you know how many times a person looks at his or her phone each minute?" 

I smiled as, with my fingers brushing the top edge of the interior of my handbag,  I recalled my daughter's conversation starter over Christmas lunch. Plunging my hand deeper amongst the tangle of earphones, fold-up shopping bag, lip balm and dog-eared conference notes, I retrieved my phone and looked down at my latest message.

Lucky is the wife whose husband is in a bookstore 

With a slight furrowing of my brow, I glanced into the distance and back down again.

Sorry. Still haven't left as Penny, the bookstore owner, is insisting on individually wrapping each of my purchases at the same time as telling me what a lucky lady you are! Can't wait to bring you here.

D.A. Horn Antiquarian Books in Adelaide, Australia

Happy New Year. May your days be filled with the joys of an over-stacked bookstore treasure trove and the stimulating conversation of its 84-year-old owner whose answers to any question were not necessarily predicated on the essential or the related, but were eminently enjoyable (see below).

He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,

   Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"

To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"

   But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

(from The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll)

Finally, a note for my Australian readers, I accepted an offer for a Kindle monthly deal from Amazon for But you are in France, Madame, which means that for the whole month of January, my first memoir is priced at only $1.49. I'm late, I'm late to this very important announcement, but there is still time. And, if you'd like to know the address of Penny's delightful Adelaide bookstore, let me know.

Links below to all my books. They should take you to where you need to go, wherever you are in the world, to make a purchase.