I nearly didn't bother to photograph this bottle stuck in a hedge. But I rather like the way it turned out.
When I enter the train, there is a conversation in progress between a young woman and a middle aged man, which keeps me entertained all the way to London. He is writing a homily (there is some discussion about whether this is the right word) to be given at a funeral on the following day. A picture of the deceased emerges in episodes as he describes him. She is the daughter of a clergyman and talks a bit about her father. The homily-giver has an open pad on the table in front of him, on which he is drafting his homily. As he talks about the deceased, he tries out various phrases on her."He wasn't a particularly religious man," he says as he write the words, "but he lived his faith. He lived his faith, that was the sort of man he was." They begin to talk about angels. What sex are angels? " he asks. "Androgynous," she says, Then comes an anecdote about some angels in a nativity play, one of whom had "a wing which needed a bit of attention". "'Your wing needs a bit of attention', that's the sort of thing he would say. Or Christmas is coming you're going to have a lot to do". The young woman leaves the train at the next station and the homily-giver is left to go over his notes. I am not, it seems, the only person who has been listening to this conversation. As the train draws into the terminal, the man sitting directly opposite me takes a book called, I think, "Living after Death" from his brief case, writes something on the inside cover, introduces himself and presents the book to the homily-giver. As I leave the train the homily-giver, in saying thank you, explains again about the homily he is preparing.
I have been thinking about the stack of -books begun and half read, unread, intended to be read - which Lucy Kempton describes in her blog, Box Elder. I imagine a lot of people have similar book towers. I know I do. I can see mine as I type. I have a friend who reads everything she reads from beginning to end -The collected poems of Shelley, The whole of Dante, The Odyssey. Nothing she begins is unfinished. I admire he application but cannot hope to emulate it. I have long given up any thought of reading Montaigne's essays or The Thousand and One Nights, which form a solid foundation for my own skyscraper, from beginning to end. But so much do I like books that I don't feel guilty if I never finish them. I console myself with the thought that to dip into them is better than never to open them at all. And besides it gives me pleasure to look at the books, as it gave me pleasure to look at the photo of Lucy's stack and to consider the items there that are familiar to me.