I don’t remember ever not finishing a book as a child. I’d start a book, finish it and either pop it back on my alphabetised shelving or return it to the library – but not before making a note of it in my book review ring binder. The reviews weren’t the sycophant’s gush-fest or unnessesarily personal, vitriolic bile that we are familiar with in today’s press. More a bunch of columns entitled “date started”, “date finished”, “title”, “how many pages” and one at the end where I ticked or crossed my opinion.
Daphne’s Book would have got a tick and I still have a copy now. The Marvellous Land of Oz (sequel to The Wizard of…) received a cross and a bus journey back to South Shields Central Library where the lady told me you weren’t allowed to return books on the same day you got them out. It was the summer holidays and I always preferred indoor pursuits I could control rather than outdoor ones that I couldn’t (It’s raining; the girl that’s playing out doesn’t like me; my ball has gone over a lady’s wall who’s not in).
These days it’s rare that I finish a book. I’ve started so many book over the past few years that still sit on my shelves with a bookmark in the place I will never go back to. I feel bad for the book; more so for the bookmark whose job is clearly redundant. Maybe some day I will empty the books and allow all of the bookmarks to hang out together. Maybe in my Hairy Bikers cookbook. That’d be a cool place to hang out for eternity.
I can only assume it’s a time issue. As a child, I had bags of the stuff to kill. My mam only gave me a limited amount of extra homework and there’s only so many budgies you can draw. My husband is the same these days. He says if he doesn’t finish a book, it’s not his fault, it’s the author’s. Harsh. We should start a new ringbinder where we catalogue how many pages we managed before we give up.
I walk out of the cinema now, too. I once walked out of a film after 20 minutes and asked for my money back. The young lass had to get a supervisor who said I could pick another film and go for free instead. Hooray for making decisions without guilt.
So this is where I announce that I will never go back to The Wire (fell asleep during the first episode); Breaking Bad (bailed on episode two when they were about to kill a man with a hammer); Lost (I read that the whole cast signed up to six series after watching one episode, so the tension had gone for me); and Game of Thrones (it’s not, as my husband said, “Like Dynasty with Dragons”).
Revealed – an unlikely star
I’m now caught up on The Widower. My favourite bit was when Malcolm shaved off his hair and eyebrows and my husband said, “He’s unrecognisable now. If I’d just switched this on, I wouldn’t know that was Reese Witherspoon.”