Friday, March 02, 2012

Amelia and I

I was reunited with old friend last week – Amelia Peabody.

It happened in the context of the England-Wales rugby match was last weekend.

Who better to watch the game with than Welsh friends? We hadn’t visited in a while. We phoned ahead and turned up at their house with a deflated rugby ball, a couple of carrier bags with nibbles and juice and settled down to watch the game. The rugby ball, emblazoned with a Welsh dragon, was bought last October on a visit to Rugby. It wasn’t deflated when we bought it. The intention was to take it straight round when we got back home, but things happen…you know how it is.

Talking and watching TV at the same time has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Saturday afternoons as a child were dedicated to watching wrestling and listening to the sport’s round-up – in silence. Apparently not everyone thinks the way I do. I have had to learn to stop hissing at people to be quiet.

It could have been in the interval that Alyson and I swapped “book stories”. She is an avid reader and a member of a book reading club. It’s a library run thing and some of the books are not what Alyson would naturally read.

I dug out my Kindle. It wasn’t so much the Kindle I wanted to show her but the purple knitted cover I had made for it. She admired the cabling and the striped purple and cream buttons. She flicked though the list of books I had downloaded. There is an anthology in amongst them, a fund raiser for a charity called Euippe. The publishers have included a short story of mine. She read it and made appropriate complimentary comments while I preened. She also read sections from the book of Romans in a Bible I have downloaded.

Then Amelia joined the conversation.

Amelia and I met a few years ago long before I bought the Kindle. Second hand bookshops were my sources for used books. I bought the first in a series of detective novels written by Elizabeth Peters who introduced me to Amelia Peabody in Egypt. As Publisher’s Weekly on the back of the cover of a later book in the series said, “If Indiana Jones were female, a wife and mother who lived in Victorian times, he would be Amelia Peabody”. She had joined the very select list of my heroines.

I have read just the first three in the series. Second hand book shops are not the best places to track down series of books in numerical order. The first hand book shops weren’t either. They may have catered to other readers on the fifteenth and sixteenth in the series but the early books were to be found only in the big cities. Borders in Glasgow had them all. It was a treat to by the next couple in the series when we were visiting family.

Then Borders closed down.

Amelia and I lost touch.

I am surprised that we didn’t bump into each other in the Kindle store at Amazon where I am known to loiter.

Alyson had the series. She opened the doors of the Wiltshire Library – but allowed me only one book at a time. I think it is her plan to make sure I come and visit often. Welsh International Rugby matches are not regular event on TV.

Amelia and I have been reunited.

I might have had my Kindle to boast about, but Alyson also had a nifty little device. It was an electronic bookmark. Not only does it mark the page, but there’s a little qwerty keyboard where you type in a unfamiliar word and it tells you the meaning.

A very useful device!

I settled down later than evening to join Amelia and her sleuthing.

Page 1. “Ardour” underlined. “great enthusiasm” written in pencil along the edge of the page.

And so it goes on.

Many of the words Alyson had underlined were familiar ones. There were a few that I didn’t know and I was glad to have the definition handy. There were also a few underlined with no pencil explanation. The book mark didn’t know them either I suppose.

It occurred to me as I read through the chapter, noting the underlined words and their meanings written in pencil, that I used a limited vocabulary when I write. There is such a rich variety of words that create a vivid picture but I find myself sticking to the usual familiar few.

I congratulate myself on the wide range of vocabulary that I know and use – but it is not really a growing range. I know lots of words and I use lots of words but I rarely use new words.

As a writer I am challenged by that.

As a Christian I am also challenged by that.

I may have a wide range of “Christian experience” – but is it a growing range of Christian experience?

1 comment:

Pat Guy said...

I have most of her books (in order) and love each and everyone one of them.

I guess I should get back to reading the second half of their lives once her son grew up but I enjoyed his antics so as a child that I missed them and felt the cringe of the dangers he got into as an adult.

But Oh! the atmosphere! And being transported to another time and place.

You might like another older series about a detective monk called Cadfael by Ellis Peters. (not a modern day monk but back during the wars over religion and kings in Wales, I think) She can be found in used books stores too.

Enjoy! I'm looking at my library now. tehe