Books are Reflections of the Soul


Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

Often when I read, I think the book I’m reading is a reflection of what is in my soul when I find myself agreeing with the writer. Just lately, I’ve found myself speaking aloud my protestations against items in the news. Today was no exception when I heard that politicians are once again meddling with the examinations that will mean so much to the lives of our young people. Long ago, when I was young, we knew we had to pass our school-leaving certificate, then, soon after World War II, the Meddling Matties got busy and started the long list of changes that has gone on ever since.

The results have been falling standards in literacy and all things to do with education. I don’t mean only academia either; I mean all things related to what is regarded as the education of young people in their preparation for life. There once was a subject called Domestic Science which helped girls in particular gain a useful knowledge of all that might help her feed and keep her family healthy. I not only learned to cook, but also learned the right and the wrong way to do simple tasks around the house.

Much that I learned was duplicated at home by my mother and father; being an only child, my mother demanded I learn all that a girl might need to know, while my father, having caught me messing about with an electric light switch and witnessed my giving myself a nasty electric shock, insisted I learned the right way to go about things. The results were to save me a great deal of money because I was never afraid to tackle most DIY jobs around the home, and gained even greater personal satisfaction on completing a good job whether it involved cutting out and sewing a garment, or sawing wood to put up new shelving.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

And that is where my love of books has paid off because having a passion for books has resulted in hundreds of them on my bookshelves; giving me access to almost any subject under the sun. With the help of books I have created garments to wear, prepared and cooked delicious food to eat, landscaped several gardens, decorated all six of my homes in various places here and abroad, and still, when I need to learn about something, or get away from it all, I have my books. They are the friends who may get a little older, a little shabbier, but never fail to comfort, even when what they have to say is as familiar as the face I see in a mirror.

 

The Power of the Word


I was reminded of something I read by John Donne, ‘Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus friends absent speak…’when I received letters from two friends now living many miles away; it was so true. Their words, written in their own inimitable ways were so different, yet in those words I could still hear their voices as clearly as if they were in the same room with me.

While I enjoy emails, and being able to Skype those friends who, like me, enjoy dabbling in computers, there is still something very special about a handwritten letter or message in a card; although the increasing costs of postage are fast rendering the paper and pen version of correspondence a luxury to be indulged in occasionally; rather like those now frowned upon indulgences like; butter, cream, and alcohol. Though I confess, I still believe that a little of what you fancy does you good – in moderation.

Portrait Picture of Tony Benn

Portrait Picture of Tony Benn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I‘ve been reading Free at Last, the diaries of Tony Benn for 1991 to 2001 and am still only half-way through, but his views, once considered by many to be maverick or outlandish, are proving more acceptable and honourable than any of those held by today’s politicians at Westminster. I blame the media, as well as members of his own political party, for encouraging the denigration of his ideas and concepts. Reading his diaries delivers a view on what a life dedicated to the service of his electorate really meant. He believed that his constituents came before party; such a view would have been poison to someone like Tony Blair, and those who think like him, believing that the party, like John Mortimer’s Mrs Rumpole, is ‘she who must be obeyed’.

Rumpole of the Bailey

Rumpole of the Bailey (Photo credit: Sarcasmo)

Of course, being honourable, honest, and having principles you feel you have to ‘stick to’, is probably rather old-fashioned these days when lining one’s own pockets and offering to use one’s  influence in return for money is making headlines in the daily news. It just goes to show – nothing changes, only the names and the faces. So many highly qualified people are having difficulty in making a living, while these political fat-cats get sleeker by the minute, with no end in sight to their globe-trotting glitzy persona. Ah well, a good book on my shelf is a friend that might turn its back on me, but remains a friend.

Oh Dear, More Warnings


Oh dear, more warnings from the scaremongers determined to keep us tip-toeing along a knife edge as they issue their pronouncements about what is, or is not, good for us. Now it’s the turn of non-steroidal painkillers that might lead to a minute increase in the risk of a stroke or heart attack. I’m beginning to think the answer is to ignore all such and get on with life while bearing in mind the age-old advice of all things in moderation when eating and drinking.

 

I was prescribed a minimum dose of statins when a blood test revealed a near-the-borderline cholesterol level. I did as I was told and took one every night, but over the ensuing months; my joints began swelling, becoming both stiff and very painful. I had to go for walks along my country lanes using two walking poles; climb stairs one at a time, coming down the same way; after one hour of shopping I was exhausted, while drinking a cup of tea or coffee needed two hands as one was no longer strong enough to hold a cup by the handle.

After reading through the leaflet in the packet of, by this time, my third or fourth prescription, I noted that my symptoms were described as worth reporting to my doctor. This I did and the medication was changed for another brand, but the symptoms persisted, so I told my GP I would abandon the statins and watch my diet; cutting out, or reducing my intake of foods considered most detrimental.

The one I most lamented was cheese, all varieties of which I love. Now, I indulge only on rare occasions when I have guests to lunch or dinner – and as that is such an uncommon event these days it might indeed be classed as a rarity, which is why I relish the visits of my son or daughter as an excuse to splurge when they travel from Sussex or Worcester, staying for the occasional week-end when they can get away. That also gives me an excuse to indulge in my love of cooking too.

So, it was back to my sensible good food diet and long-term tried and trusted food supplements. Gradually my mobility returned as the swelling, and the pain in my joints disappeared. Now I can trot up and down stairs; walk unaided; kneel in the garden – on my kneeler it’s true, but crouching to pull out the odd weed presents no problem, while strolling behind the petrol-driven lawnmower is a doddle, and the glass, or two, of wine I allow myself afterwards tastes all the better.