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‘Hard to Let Go’ dreams Private English Tutor

November 4, 2013
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Thoughts From The Corner

I love it, I love it; and who shall dare

To chide me for loving that old armchair?

(The Old Armchair – Eliza Cook – 1881-1889)

Never was a quote more apt for this stuck-in-the-mud private English tutor. It’s not necessarily for the old armchair in the corner that I have a soft spot for, although it has witnessed many a tumbler of single malt, but there are many things that I surround myself with that I have a fondness for.

Surely I’m not alone in being reticent to jettison familiar objects.

As a student in London several decades ago, I used to carry a little book with me everywhere I went. It was called: Dictionary of Quotations (Collins Gem, First published in 1961). It alleviated the tedium on many a tedious journey about the capital by bus, train and underground. It is from that very same book today that the quote above hails (p.139). To quote Ms. Cook: ‘I love it, I love it;. . . ‘ I cannot ever see myself parting with it.

Looking about me at my dust-covered ‘things’, there are some that will remain in place until I curl my toes. Above my desk I have a print of a scene from The Merchant of Venice; It shows Shylock being hounded by a group of children. Purchased in Covent Garden several decades ago [yes, everything in my life happened several decades ago :-)] it has a label on the rear proclaiming it to be more than 100 years old; so today it is can’t far off 150 years old. Many’s the time that I have sat looking at it, willing the muse to descend, willing Shakespeare’s genius to approach – alas, this post testifies the muse remains as illusive as ever! Would I ever part with the print? No, I will take it with me when I shuffle off my mortal coil. Ha Ha! That’s a good line, ‘Shuffle off my mortal coil’. Has the muse visited?

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Shylock being chased by a group of children

Staying with our Shakespearean  theme, I have a battered collected works. Purchased (yes, several decades ago!) probably in the mid 1970′s, from a wonderful antiquarian book shop in my town – sadly, long since closed. It has a damaged dark blue, hard back cover. Then, I could read the small print, now I need my goggles to read it! I stuck a beautiful picture of Greta Garbo inside the cover; we share the same birthday, so why not? I took that book with me on a year’s travel to the Middle East and Europe several decades ago. It was a little heavy for a backpacking trip but I was young, impetuous and idealistic  :-). Ah ‘Bill’, as I used to fondly refer to the bard, how you have enriched my life. Would I part with that battered treasure that now lies untouched, for many years, in the attic? Impossible. It will journey with me to where ever I pass on to once I have popped my clogs.

This private tutor has long had a love affair with English Literature, so hardly surprising that I hoard around me things such as those mentioned above.

What treasures are you hanging on to and can’t you let go of?

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4 Comments
  1. Billie permalink

    Fantastic post Dean! As always entertaining and insightful :)

    Like you, I have old books, some from 1831 of a French poet, old French dictionaries and Flemish bibles still in the old language etc. Used to collect the latter two but stopped because I didn’t have time to go hunting for them anymore. A good friend of my aunt also willed me her collection of Flemish literature books in first and second prints, so all of them are worth something to someone who loves that kind of literature. To me those books are indispensable. My mum and aunt also have paintings by my nana’s second husband and they will remain an heirloom forever. I don’t care much about the old furniture left in the family,but those small pieces of family history and my old books… would rather die than having to give them away.

  2. I have books of modernist and postmodernist literary theory, from my university days. As well as the usual arsenal of English literature. Can’t see myself opening those theory tomes any time soon, but still intend to hold onto them. Law books, on the other hand, long gone! :-D
    Also have some battered old kitchenware, also from my university student house (see a theme?), and still manage to use them as decorative tableware. Pretty sure I’ll keep these till they completely wear out.

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