Snakes and Ladders
It’s been a funny sort of week. A week of highs and lows. Mostly lows. My knee and ankle joints have been playing up, and what with the chronic back trouble, some mornings I’ve hardly been able to walk. Or, and it’s been a big Or, do stairs. Up or down. But I suppose this is all part of getting on a bit, so I shouldn’t complain. The alternative is, after all, worse. Nevertheless, boxes of books seem to be getting heavier by the week, lately.
It would appear though, that I’m not the only thing chez Uncle Phil that’s approaching its sell-by date. We drove to the bank on Wednesday morning, me to pay some cheques in, Herself to pick up her new goggles from the Specsavers next door. Did all that – got back in the car. Went to start the engine, put foot on clutch as I always do, in case I’ve left the car in gear. Clutch pedal goes straight down to the metal - and stays there. I could move it up and down with my foot, but it didn’t seem to be connected to anything. Least of all, the gearbox.
To cut a long sad story short the RAC, may they live long and prosper, arrived within about 20 minutes, towed us to the garage of my choice, and then their driver, a very very nice man, gave us a lift home.
An hour or so later, the garage rang, to explain exactly what had happened, and what would be needed to fix it. Six hundred and fifty sovs later, I put the phone down and nearly brought my breakfast up.
But later, I did have one small bit of good luck. I’d bought a crate of assorted books in an auction. Actually this is a slight whatever the opposite of exaggeration is – meiosis? litotes? Can’t remember. Go to the bottom of the class, young Philip. I’d in fact bought 18 crates of assorted books. Which for those of you who generally think of books in terms of one-at-a-time, or have fallen for the e-books sales pitch, is a couple of people-carriers full,- or the best part of a ton. I ’m thinking of applying for lifting crates of books around to become an Olympic sport. I’d win Gold every time. And it’s cheaper than joining the gym.
Anyway – I was going through this particular boxful, and I noticed a bit of metal sticking out of the top edge of one of the books. So I pulled it out, to find a nice antique hallmarked solid silver letter opener. Which when I sell it will pay for the whole eighteen cratesful. Not bad, for a bookmark.
People use some odd things as bookmarks. Probably they grab at whatever’s near to hand. We’ve had over the years (apart from the usual ephemera) a £20 note (useful) an uncashed cheque for over £1000 dated 1950-something (useless) a 100 fr Swiss banknote (out of date) a Romeo y Julieta (flattened) flowers various (pressed), a hairnet (in holes) a pornographic photograph (kinky) and a slice of streaky bacon (cooked.) This last book we had to dump.
(Later…..) It seems to be my week for precious metals. In another box (same consignment) I found a little book published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, called Gifts of the Magi: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, complete and in a slipcase, with samples of the three gifts, to wit 2 muslin bags containing , in crystalline form, the Sacred Smellies (but please don’t ask me which is which!) and a small corked bottle of spirit containing some flakes of 24 carat gold. Or so it says on the label, and I can’t see the Met telling porkies.
What will I find next, I wonder. A Georgian silver teaset? A Faberge Egg? A Rembrandt etching? ( I once did find one of those – in a £15 auction lot , not of books, but of pictures. How much did I get for it? Quite a lot, actually.