As I lay there in bed with the sun streaming through a gap in the curtains listening to the chirp and chatter of the birds who live in the eaves above the window and the clock radio decides on Debussy as the signal to start my day, the new house really feels like home now. After a month of shifting, sorting, assembling and replacing, I think things are ninety-per-cent the way I want them. There are still a few jobs to do and a few items to upgrade and a home doesn’t feel right to me without plenty of free stuff and organics to aerate the place and generally soften the contours, but for the first time it feels comfortable. I thought that over the next few posts I would talk about some of the thoughts and ideas that have sprung up whilst going through my phase of building a new nest, a musing on the nature of the things that we draw around us to create our homes.
As many of you know, one of my passions is history books so we will start with that. I was once asked if I had read all of the books I have in my house, to which I replied no, they are reference works and I don’t view them like that. The books in the picture are mainly history with the likes of religion, mythology and anthropology making up the numbers and my approach is that I like to have my own personal library to hand. Should a subject come up I like the idea that I can find a book and at least have a starting point to explore the subject be it The Etruscan culture or The Retreat from Cordoba, the campaigns of Edward I or the ideology of early Coptic Christians. That might seems an odd approach in this day and age when information seems so accessible and so bountiful, but when it comes to knowledge I often feel that almost everything on the net and even the dedicated documentary TV channels is either wrong or aimed at a 10 year old. The internet especially, anyone can have a blog or website, anyone can get their work out there and from the onset it is hard to distinguish from just the titles which sites to trust. Most of it is unsourced and uncited information written on a whim by a 15 year old blogging after watching a PBS broadcast.
I would say that “you can keep your internet” but obviously the hypocrisy of that is that I am typing this into an on-line blog, but I will say that it’s always best to chose the right tool for the job and when it comes to imparting a knowledge of history then you can’t beat, solid, dependable, professionally published books.
It also reminds me of a wonderful quote that comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of all places….
Jenny Calendar: Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Jenny Calendar: Computers don’t smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a-a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and-and-and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a – it, uh, it has no-no texture, no-no context. It’s-it’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then-then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly.