It has turned into true love, I’m sure of it. When the summer began, with weather even more surprising than the revelation that one of the squeaky-clean Glee kids had died from a heroin overdose (too soon?), I was a bit cautious. We stepped around each other gingerly, trying our utmost to remind each other that this was not anything serious. We were just involved because I was bored. My annual check-out job had yielded zero talent, save for the lovely ex-Army man with the nice forearms, who was now serving on the front line of the ASDA bakery. So we were just casually involved at first, but I could feel something deeper all along, although it took me a while to admit it.
I suppose I’d better come clean. The tall, handsome stranger I have been spending evenings, lunch-breaks and sunny weekends in the garden with is Books. As an English student, my passion for the written word had been burned out over three years spent buried under Chaucer, Wordsworth and all of the Brontes. Of course, these are entirely worthy companions, but in spite of the valiant efforts of several impassioned tutors, my inclination to pick up a book independently has been nil so far. With a steady stream of beautifully obnoxious reality TV on tap, and an excuse to drink every night of the week, bothering myself with any sort of brain activity seemed rather too much effort.
Then, a friend suggested I take Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman as a lover. (While reading this, it would be useful to read ‘lover’ aloud and in a plummy yet wistful sort of voice. Think Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham in the recent BBC adaptation of Great Expectations.) And indeed, How to Be a Woman proved an excellent bedfellow, even causing me to snort in amusement during the safety demonstration on a flight to Belfast, and provoking a look from the flight attendant that reduced me to a pile of dust. Albeit a pile of dust that had correctly fastened its seatbelt.
Upon finishing How to Be a Woman, I felt bereft, which surprised me, as the turning of the final page is usually accompanied by relief. When I staggered to the conclusion of Bleak House last semester, I think I may actually have hugged a bewildered flatmate in utter exultation. But this book left me hungry. And the only way to satisfy that hunger was to open another book. This is of course not very good advice if what has caused the emptiness in your insides is finishing a whole cake, or the end of a cocaine binge.
My fling had been flung, and I was considering settling down. So I did, with Tess (of the d’Urbervilles) and Michael (The Mayor of Casterbridge). And what sweet music we made together!
The written word and I have been reconciled by this lovely summer we’ve had, with sunny afternoons affording endless opportunities for me to delve deeper into our relationship, whilst tanning. I’m fully aware that, as soon as the new semester starts, and deadlines and beer-pong loom large, our little love affair may have to be put on hold. My lover (again, think Gillian Anderson, wilted bouquet in hand) and I may part ways for a time. (And I’m sure I’ll realise very soon how stretched out this extended metaphor has become.) For now, we’re going to have one last dance. Hit it, Alexander McCall Smith and the Dan Brown Band! Play our song.