One rainy Friday afternoon, my Father, Peter brought me a book home. I think he grabbed it on a whim, but it started something. The book was this one:
I don’t think he knew it then, but that quick little purchase started a ritual that changed my life. I remember ripping that bag open, and scanning the first sentence “Oh Moms, I’ll just die if I don’t get a horse”. I ran to my bedroom and didn’t come out until I’d finished the last words. For I too, would die if I didn’t get a horse. I had no idea who ‘Moms” was.
And then I flipped it over, and I read it again.
The following Friday, another brown paper bag from the bookshop, another Trixie. And so the habit was born. I don’t think Peter knew just what he’d gotten into, for author Julie Campbell and then mysteriously after book six, Kathryn Kenny, were prolific. They wrote thirty-six Trixie Belden books. THIRTY SIX. At a book a week, that’s nine months. In the time it would take to grow a human baby, my Dad grew a monster. A reading monster. It was voracious.
And so that is what happened. Every. Single. Friday.
Some Fridays he would have “lunch meetings”. It was back in the 80s, before everyone got a work ethic, and when long boozy lunches were an accepted and expected part of business. When he got home he’d be so “tired” from his busy day that Mum would make him go straight to bed. Yet still the brown paper bag. Still the book.
He never forgot.
Of course, eventually we moved on from Trixie, and through other catalogues: Dahl, Tolkien, Twain, Steinbeck. Then later; King, Hornby, Bryson. And finally, right near the end, Nick Earls. By the time we got to Nick I’d long since moved out of home, and so we would have quick chats over the phone or send emails about what we were reading. We had lots of cross-overs, but our tastes diverged at Peter Carey. I couldn’t do Carey.
In the later years, we had switched roles a little, I didn’t do it every Friday, but I did sometimes buy my Dad a book. The last one I got him was The True Story of Butterfish, by Nick Earls. He never finished it. Before he could, the cancer devoured him, from the inside out, and Butterfish was left sitting on the bedside table.
A few months later I was sitting at my desk, reading Butterfish, and I came across a passage I particularly liked. Forgetting my Dad was dead, I absent-mindedly picked up the phone and called his office to discuss it. A woman answered, and the pain and the sad came over me in a hot and cold wave. I hung up quickly, without telling her I was calling to speak to my dead father.
My Dad always thought I’d write a book one day. I don’t know if I have a book in me, but I do have a blog now. And for now, that is enough. I hope my Dad would like reading it.
…From The Ashers xx
What book memories do you have?
Did your Dad do cool stuff for you when you were a kid?