My shelves are full of books for lending, Books I love, and need to share – Their spines are useless when not bending, Spreading words to ev’rywhere. I long to be what lib’ries were for me, A haven and a runway – Take these beauties down and set them free, And bring them back, well, some day. Pay them forward, share the thrill, And validate my soul, my love… And yet…I know you never will – You need to want, I can’t just shove. Ah well, there’s no sense my pretending – Who am I to hook and sway ? My shelves are full of books for lending – There they sit, and there they’ll stay.
I borrowed the book from the library, years ago, From a casual glance. I fell in love with her title, I had to know What on Earth she meant. She promised me adventure, she promised me grit, And an epic romance. And over a sleepless week I devoured her wit Till my lust was spent.
I stroked her crackled spine and embossing, And tried to read her all again, But couldn’t concentrate my brain – Until my mum returned her, unawares. In later months, whenever I was browsing, I hoped to chance upon her between the heavyweights, And see how many readers had stamped her with their dates, But someone had purloined her, made her theirs.
I sought a copy later, long out of print, For a foolhardy sum – She sits on my bookcase still, and perfectly mint, If gone a little brown. But it’s good to know that she’s always there, close by, For a time yet to come. Though to tell the truth, I’m terrified to try – For what if she lets me down ?
Is she quite as good as I remember ? I just recall her basic plot, And ev’ry year there’s more forgot – But that, I always say, just makes her better… Can she be as thrilling and as tender ? Can all of her details make a striking whole ? For that’s where the Devil lurks, and so does her soul. I think I’d rather lose her all than regret her…
Through the village of Longbourn, the undead shuffle, The unemployed and the destitutes. The Luddites who moan in a rustic muffle, Back from Napolean without any boots. Mr Bennett says he can’t even hear them, So alien is his world to theirs, But they’re getting restless, threatening mayhem – What if it spreads to the staff downstairs ? Don’t worry, Lizzie, here’s bold Mr Darcy With his wealth stripped from the backs of the poor, He knows how to stop the rabble getting arsey, Put them back down when they dare ask for more. Crush their groups, and deport the whole crew, This seething horde of the unwashed masses. Best to wipe them out like we did at Peterloo – Before the balls are overrun with jumped-up underclasses.
Mr Dan Brown, author extr’ordinaire, Thrilling and gripping and Devil-may-care – His fans want adventure, his fans want romance, And intrigue uncovered from New York to France, And heroes so clever and rugged and bold – The sillier the story, the tighter it’s told. Fast and loose plotting, his signature style – From airport to bedside, from breathless to smile.
And what of Da Vinci ? Would he agree ? Or would he be fuming, consumed in a rage, As he turns and turns the page ?
Now you and I both might well disagree, And see them as pulpy and intellect-free, With sneers at the ready, with snoots in the air – How we love to play pedant and cry it’s not fair. He’s got his facts skewed and his history wrong, So we have to correct him, for loud and for long. We’re putting him right and we’re putting him down – But the sales, they keep coming for Mr Dan Brown.
And what of Da Vinci ? Would he agree ? Or would he be laughing, strutting the stage, As he turns and turns the page ?
Dan Brown is on record saying that the ‘truths’ presented in The Da Vinci Code are all true. This of course is bollocks. But it is also irrelevant. And that infamous page of ‘facts’ at the start of the novel are just that – the start of the novel, a part of its world, and in no way to be criticised for not being a history textbook.
The author is under absolutely no obligation to tell the truth either on the page or off it – and indeed the whole point of fiction is to lie with style.
And yes, I am aware that I capitalised the Da in Da Vinci as if it were a surname and not an adjective. If it upsets you, then this is definitely the wrong blog for you.
Here’s rosemary – for memory, some say, But here I offer it up for aches, And for the colic, here’s caraway, And there, valerian for shakes. I have the wisest sage for the eyes, And columbine for fevered brows, And lavender, to drive off the flies, And camomile daisies to help you drowse. Some fennel to keep you regular, back there, And thyme to rid the worms, Here’s rue for you, but it scalds in the sun – take care, Use St John’s wort for the burns. And for the maidens, I’ve violet and pansy, To keep your flowerhead free from weeds. And if these fail, there’s purgative tansy – Restoring your bloom, not going to seed.
I know, I know, I’ve rhymed worms with burns. Not ideal, but sometimes you have to take a leaf from hip-hop’s lyric sheet and roll with ‘close enough’.
Disciples or Olympians, They always come in dozens, Keeping in the families With brothers, sons, and cousins. Add in Tribes of Israel, And Knights about the table, And clearly stories love their twelves As various yet stable. But always, there’s a glut of candidates From which to choose, And no two-tellings can agree On which ones win or lose – Oh sure, there’s half-a-dozen, maybe eight, All guaranteed – But for the rest, it’s anybody’s guess Who will succeed… They’re heroes of the second-tiers, The extras at the feast, Without a story of their own, But name-checked still, at least. A pool of six to eight will form As random plot devices – A few more names to fill the ranks As redshirt sacrifices. A handful get the nod this time, The rest stay on the bench – And of the lucky ones, we know These men are strictly ‘hench’. So two or three are left out in the cold, Cos here’s the rub – You’re clique is nothing special If there’s fourteen in your club.
Every gentleman fills up his library: Every manor and palace and hall Has a room full of shelving that’s crammed full of bindings, All equally mannered and equally tall. And nowhere is half a row empty, And nowhere are bookstacks for want of a board. Do gentlemen skim for as long as they’ve shelving, Then quit once their volumes are suitably stored ?
Miss Haversham or Jilted John, With no clue what’s been going on – That’s me. When the hero comes bursting into the church To win back his one true love, Then I’m the one who’s stood at the altar. I’m the one who’s always left in the lurch, Who only exists to get the shove, Because my name is Chester or Walter.
(Hiring the organist, ballroom, and tails – The invites and rings and the horse-drawn chaise, Flying my folks in from New South Wales, For untaken photos and uneaten canapés.)
Forever Paris or Rosalind, Traded-in for the chisel-chinned – That’s me. The one who isn’t famous or pouty, I’m the beta who’s got no soul, The banker or techie or wonk who’s bland and nice. You’ll all have quite forgotten about me By the time the credits roll I’m just another shallow plot device.
(I won’t be getting out of here for hours – Shaking their hands, and arranging their lifts, And someone still has to clear out the flowers, And cancel the band, and return all the gifts.)
I remember Sunday afternoons And watching classic black-and-whites, Though not so much for giant apes, Or top hats, kanes or men in tights – But all my fascination fell On the opening seconds-worth, Wond’ring at that giant mast, And where its feet made earth – Novaya Zemlya first, for one, And Svalbard, I concluded, next, Then Ellesmere Island for the third, But the last one had me vexed… There’s nothing there but shifting ice, Though far more then than left today – It’s just as well they’d long gone bust Before the ice gave way.