Sources of Joy – Day 6

Autographs, Shelley, and sacred music

I lent my proofing copy of Scatterling to someone to read. We met for coffee today so that she could return the book. She wanted to buy it, instead of ordering her own online. I said that it had three errors marked in purple in it. She said she liked it with the errors. I asked if she would like me to write something in it. She said yes. I told her that I had a green pen with me. She liked the idea of green ink. It was the cartoons she liked the most. So I said in my message that I was glad that she, too, had a naughty sense of humour. She is sixty-eight and rides a mountain bike in her free time. Never judge a book by its cover.

Unexpectedly, I had a wonderful, rambling chat with a very good old friend on Skype this evening. Lifetimes go by, and friendships stay. Almost solid; tangible even. She shared a quotation she had recently come across from Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (Act II, Scene IV, lines 73-74):

He gave man speech, and speech created thought,
Which is the measure of the universe;

She reckons that this quotation just about sums it up – and that is after all the English literature she has ever read or taught. She will be incorporating this into an art work of some kind as a gift to her son who turns 21 soon. What a grand idea! Before we started chatting, we had made ourselves a cup of tea, just like in the old days.

In the old days, I bought myself a radio which had the dual advantage of being electric and able to pick up Short Wave. Every Sunday evening I used to tune into BBC and listen to Evensong sung by the King’s College Choir, Cambridge. As I listened tonight to this beautiful piece from Bach’s St Matthew Passion, I had a sudden flash of memory: Choral music of this ilk was once strangely conducive to the writing of French essays. It is not so strange, then, that recently I have taken to listening to such music when translating, particularly in the evening, although not when a deadline is looming. Sacred music is sacred on more than one level.




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