Retail (And Reading) Therapy

When an unpleasant task must be performed, or an unpleasant journey must be undertaken my thoughts turn to retail therapy.  This seems to be a trait common to many members of my benighted generation.

Unlike, I suspect, many members of my benighted generation, my idea of really good, truly satisfying and utterly enriching retail therapy occurs only when I’m on my knees (careful…) sifting through piles of books in op-shops.

Today an unpleasant journey needed to be undertaken.  But I was prepared for it.  A modest sum was tucked into my wallet (it was too itchy down my sock) and a cheery green re-usable shopping bag was secreted about my person when I sallied forth.  As was a copy of Auden’s Selected Poems and a few scrofulous texts whose titles and purpose I don’t propose to reveal.

Having dealt with the regrettable necessities of the day, I was ready to go a-hunting.  The game was afoot, ahand, anose and possibly also anipple.

My haul for the day seems to me to be a particularly good one.  For the princely sum of twenty seven dollar coins of the realm I am now the proud possessor of

Animal Farm by George Orwell (to replace a copy which recently fell apart)
Living Black by Kevin Gilbert
The Letters of the Younger Pliny by (unsurprisingly) Pliny the Younger
The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle
The Psychology of Sex by Oswald Schwarz (c’mon – you’d have bought it too)
Poems by Wilfred Owen (a rather fetching Chatto and Windus hardback)
Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Representative Government by John Stuart Mill
Greylands by Isobelle Carmody
Gift of the Gab, Toad Rage and Toad Heaven by Morris Gleitzman
Charade by John Mortimer
The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry (Eds.) Tranter and Mead
The Penguin Book of Interviews (Ed.) Christopher Silvester and
Bad Hair Days by Pamela Bone

I read Gift of the Gab on the way home and it made me cry twice.  I’m still not quite sure how Gleitzman does that to me, but I’m not going to rest until I own every book he ever wrote and figure it out.

I’m looking forward to The Letters of the Younger Pliny too – I like to imagine that he’s a more rock’n’roll version of Pliny the Elder: more into his Catullus than his Horace.  But we shall see.

The real jewel, though, is The Penguin Book of Interviews. It contains an interview concocted by Oscar Wilde and Robert Ross which is wet-your-drawers funny, a heart-breaking glimpse of F Scott Fitzgerald as a martyr to the turps and a conversation between Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling (written up by the latter) which serves to prove categorically that puff-piece interviews were alive and well a goodly time ago.

Now, if I can somehow keep my students away for the next couple of days, I might just be able to settle down to some serious reading.

Does anyone have a pair of savage Dobermans they could lend me for a brief spell?

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5 responses to “Retail (And Reading) Therapy

  1. Interesting that you bought Psychology of Sex today – at my psych research methods tute on this very day (yes I’m still at uni!!!!!) 2 students presented a piece of research conducted secretly in a men’s lav at a uni in the 1970s. Basically the focus was on whether men would stand at a urinal directly next to another man or whether a necessary gap would be left, and for how long micturition would take place if there was another present. Unbelievably, the researchers hid in a cubicle, and when it became apparent to them that they were unable to hear said micturition, they decided to set up a complicated mirror prism system so they could watch! (How sad that ethics has got in the way of truly inspiring research)
    As the class discussion dege.nerated into rolling around the floor with laughter, the issue of what is, and is not, appropriate public behaviour, of course the topic of sex was raised. As the lecturer suggested, many acts of which we westerners consider private, are conducted quite publicly by members of some cultures, (possibly because they don’t have enough rooms) so I will be most interested to read your comments on the text you have purchased – oh I do hope it discusses public displays of affection. I wait with anticipation……..

    • He-he-he… I love it.

      Unfortunately, no discussion of PDAs was in evidence with ol’ Schwartzie. Still, a few gems were there to be had.

      Was there any consensus on how long the average slash takes when there is or isn’t an audience close by?

  2. Apparently, although no actual times were given, men will not pee for as long if there is an audience!

    That did make me wonder though – if they don’t pee for as long then it’s obvious that they will need to go more frequently, thereby rendering themselves subject to the probability of exposition to another audience, mmm?

    • Too true – I must say that I’ve never really been too bothered by the whole pissing in public thing.

      Can’t say I draw the process out or truncate it on the basis of an audience.

      But then, maybe I’ve just never had the right audience.

  3. I looked in my bookcases, and I have no fewer than three copies of Animal Farm. I have also read Greylands. Most enjoyable.

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