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Things My Grandmother Taught Me …

My Grandmother

If someone gives you something nice, you should probably “keep it for a better thing”.

You need no more than three of anything anyway – one on, one clean and one in the wash.

Always remember to wear clean underwear, in case you get run over by a bus and have to go to hospital.

And if you’re going anywhere, be sure to have a clean hanky!

If you can’t be nice, then hold your tongue.

Sometimes rules are made to be broken.

And remember you can’t always trust a Sassenach! (My granny was Scottish …)

Staying in bed after 7.00 a.m. is sheer laziness …

Nature needs five
Custom takes seven
Laziness nine …
And wickedness eleven!

Finally … she taught me a very important lesson! How to make tea …

  • Warm the teapot first
  • Put in one for each person and one for the pot (spoons of tea leaves)
  • Take the pot to the kettle, not the kettle to the pot
  • Put milk in the cups first (for those “contrary enough” to take their tea with milk)
  • Let it steep for at least two or three minutes before pouring …

old_teacosyThat last is absolutely necessary if you’re making tea for someone who appreciates a decent cup!

I remember Granny commenting disgustedly about visiting someone where she was served tea that was “nae mair than a cup o’ hot water wi’ a couple o’ tea leaves floatin’ in it!”

My grandmother died a very long time ago, when I was only 17.

But all these years later, I still hear her voice. :)

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Books: Windows on the World

I’m sure anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know reading has always been one of my life’s delights. I’ve shared some of that joy through blog posts such as Widdershins, Holding the Centre, Revisiting BridesheadThe Book Thief, or Audiobooks, E-books and Old Friends

My First BooksI don’t remember the process of learning to read. But I actually do remember not being able to read. And I have the evidence! :)

Two of the books on my laden bookshelves are the very first two books I ever owned. One is a collection of nursery rhymes, with gorgeous illustrations by Hilda Boswell. The other is a book of stories about a family of teddy bears: The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, with images by Dutch illustrator Willy Schermelé.

I still have a very clear memory of only seeing the pictures . Large slabs of each page (the text) meant nothing to me. But the illustrations – Hilda Boswell’s in particular – were a wonder-filled world to explore while the nursery rhymes or stories were read aloud to me. I can actually remember that time when I needed an adult’s voice to interpret and share the stories that went with the pictures. [Read more…]

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Fahrenheit 451

FiremenBack in 1953 Ray Bradbury published a dystopian science fiction/fantasy novel called Fahrenheit 451. If you’ve not read it, do! It’s not only a rattling good story, but it remains soberingly relevant today.

In fact, in many ways, we are living in the future Bradbury imagined. [Read more…]

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The World’s Memory

Computer Screen and LibraryBack in 1916, Harry G Aldis wrote: **

Imagine, if you can, the world suddenly bereft of books. What would it mean? Practically, the record of the accumulated sum of human knowledge swept away, and the processes of civilization limited to the experience of a single life-time, supplemented only by tradition and hearsay, dependent upon the memory of individuals. It is only by some such feat of imagination that it is possible to realize in any degree, the great part that books play in the daily life of the civilized world.

Books are the world’s memory. In them is preserved the record of human thought, action, experience, and intellectual activity. We are, it is true, heirs of the ages, but our heritage consists to a large extent of books, and what we are pleased to call progress is made possible mainly through their aid. Books have come to be one of the commonest objects of everyday life. We turn to them instinctively for information of all and every kind, for intellectual recreation, and even for recreation that cannot be called intellectual.

When I came across this passage recently, I loved it – perhaps especially the idea that books are ‘the world’s memory’.

But I also found myself wondering … Does it still resonate for us, almost a hundred years later? After all, in this day and age, we could indeed imagine a world without books – or, at least without printed books.

So then I tried re-reading his words, mentally replacing  ‘books’ with  ‘computers’ as I read.

And I figured what Aldis had to say – with a bit of a twist – is just as true today as it was then. :)

 

** From The Printed Book by Harry G. Aldis, M.A. Cambridge at the University Press 1916

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Audiobooks, Ebooks and Old Friends

AudiobooksI’ve always loved having books read to me.

When libraries first started lending books on audio cassettes, I was one of the early adopters. It was wonderful to be able to kick back, relax and listen. Perhaps especially when I was in the car.

With stories to keep me company, long trips were a breeze. Peak hour traffic when the freeway was a car park? No problem!

Catching every red light on the way? No hassle at all – it just meant I’d get through another chapter.

So it was a very natural next step when I could borrow downloadable audio-books from the library and listen to them on my Android phone instead.

But, once upon a time, if you’d suggested I’d start reading e-books on my phone, I’d have laughed. After all, nothing could replace the ease and enjoyment of holding a real book in my hands. And reading on a small screen? That would be a total pain – no way I’d do it!

I was wrong!  :)

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