Blue Peter

Okay…so it’s been a while; dear god I think I’ve just written my future Tinder bio!  At least I wouldn’t be one of those irritating Jesus pushers who manage to cram red flag phrases like ‘trustworthy’ and ‘god fearing’ into their character limit.  Although thanks to an emergency tooth extraction giving the impression I consult the same dental practice as Joe Exotic’s ex-husband, I’d definitely have to use a fake profile pic. 

Speaking of fake, I never did obtain the elusive Blue Peter badge.  I’ve never owned double sided sticky tape either (who even sells that) – I did buy one off Ebay but the print wore off and the ship didn’t look like it was watertight.

On the topic of honesty I have to say I am not at all pleased with Elon Musk (if that even is their real name *narrows eyes*) and his stripping of the blue tick to help him amass an even greater fortune; it reminds me of Ross complaining about having to choose between Julie and Rachel and Chandler’s scathing response: “my wallet’s too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight”.  But what can we expect of someone from Trumpland where everything must be Yuge and white bigots teach men to grab what they want.

I’m sorry if I seem a bit OTT, normally owing to a constant steady IV drip of rum I’m quite a chilled out person but it’s really riled me up.  I feel like Jerry Maguire typing up his mission statement (which is the only film I can tolerate Tom Cruise in and that’s only because Cuba Gooding Jnr and that little boy steal every scene – the rest of his back catalogue can burn in hell along with his polo necks, hummus and Maverick’s leather jacket #JusticeForGoose).  He’s turning Twitter into his little personal piggy bank and picking who he wants to ‘gift’ a blue tick too like some narcissistic PE teacher picking favourites at rounders!

Don’t get me wrong I’m not precious about most so-called celebrities and bit coin peddlers losing their pin badges, but don’t remove them from authors: I have a jam jar prescription and the blue tick makes the ones I follow easier to spot…I swear I’m developing a twitch already from having to squint so much at my screen in order to find them. 

This might seem small fry to a big fish like Musk, but for us bookies, writers are the glue that keeps us going.  Take one of my all-time favourite human beings @MarianKeyes for example; she of THE fringe, the ailments and the words…many times she has wrapped me up in a literary blanket as I’ve gingerly lifted my head back up after a bout of depression, always there sparkling wit, profound wisdom and of course, legendary abbreviations such as TPB = The Poor Bastard!  My relationship to Marian is unrequited of course, but alas the heart wants what it wants, it was that classic case of girls discovers author, girl buys author’s entire back catalogue including paperback/hardback editions of every book and extra copies where a special cover has been revealed.  My husband didn’t realise how bad my obsession became until we’ve come to move house and he stupidly went to move what he thought were empty suitcases only to discover the first of many literary stashes!

And if you scoff, call me a fossil and angrily shout books are dead I will roar unashamedly “What is dead cannot die” and I would bet Theon Greyjoy pops in your head or as Ramsey knew him better; Reek *waves Richmond sausage in honour* because as with lots of amazing films/TV shows, they have the benefit of being adapted from a gem of a novel(s) and effortlessly become part of mainstream pop culture.

You see already I’m losing steam because I’ve been thinking about George RR Martin’s epic bountiful Song of Ice and Fire and just thinking about the weight of those pages makes my soul take a happy deep intake of breath.  And I have tried to do better, I did allow a Kindle in the house (for my husband) but it’s not just about the story, it’s the physicality of collecting books too.  That’s what some people don’t get and what my husband to his horror, is only just discovering now we’re moving…it’s the smell, the texture and…dare I say it, okay I will, this is a safe space: the taste!  Yes I said it…I have, on occasion, licked a book, just a little tickle, tip of the tongue I promise! 

And like the true bibliophile I am, it’s not just my collections that make me happy, it’s seeing others too!  That’s why I love Twitter so much, I see fellow bookies popping up their TBR piles and bask in their glow.  Following bookstores like @gutterbookshop and seeing their gorgeous displays makes me feel more whole than a warm bowl of porridge on an autumn morning.

But now I’ve hit a snag, you see now the husband’s emptied the loft and now he’s taking his ridiculous OCD to the rest of the rooms and I don’t think either of us are ready for what he’s going to find.  You see there’s the books he knows about, the books he’s found, the books on display…then there are the others!  The ones I’ve intercepted and snuck into the house in a variety of disguises including my kids lunch bags (I’m not proud; well maybe a tiny bit), the ones I’ve hid wrapped in cling film behind the bath panel, the four that are perilously tied to the bottom of the bed slats with leftover bunting and that’s just naming a few hot spots.

I was honest when we first got together.  He always knew I loved books, in fact in the beginning he openly encouraged it – he bought me Under the Dome by Stephen King when I was pregnant and I devoured it, thus creating a new obsession and I became a Constant Fan.  It was just that when he asked how many books I owned I did the equivalent of what we all do when asked how many sexual partners we’ve had…I fudged the numbers!

But Mr Musk (just typing that name reminds me of my Nan’s obsession with Yardley) Twitter isn’t about numbers, it’s about people.  It’s about community and bringing together all the things we love one Tweet at a time and threading them into an eclectic global quilt, something we can all grab a corner of and pull over us when pay day is three weeks away and already the fuel meter is making demands, when your sister in law says you look better when you make an effort and a colleague in the Teams chat asks if you need to up your meds. 

It’s a refuge to visit at 3am in the morning to find a stranger kind enough to distract you from a panic attack.

It’s one bit beautiful scrapbook in the sky held together by millions of souls and it shouldn’t be about fame and fortune.

It’s about good people coming together to elevate each other.

And most importantly, it’s about books, lots of books!


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