Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The perils of holiday reading - especially if you are a book

Setting off on the train to Italy this summer obviously required some reading matter to while away the tedium of all those lovely views. So having enjoyed Penelope Lively's Spiderweb earlier this year, I decided to take another PL novel, The Photograph, to keep me entertained.

The train services all ran to time, all four of them, all the way from Yorkshire to Lombardy. Unbelievable! There was no sitting around on stations and actually I was too busy looking out of the window to open my book, or even to get it out of my rucksack.

In the luxury that is the Stendhal sleeper train you are presented with a complimentary bottle of mineral water. Between the four of us we had consumed three but had one left unopened. After living in Yorkshire for over a decade the local habit of thrift has been caught so as we left I grabbed the bottle and shoved it into my rucksack.

Two hours later, husband having successfully negotiated the trauma of car hire, and the actually-not-so-bad driving in Italian traffic, we arrived at our holiday destination. I unpacked rucksack, bottle still intact but … pushing it into the rucksack had rolled the edge of the paper label up depositing horrible thick strong glue, melted in the Italian heat, all over the front of my paperback Penelope Lively. Horror of horrors, and me, abroad, without a suitable solvent to my name. I tried kitchen fixes of oil and alcohol but the glue wouldn't budge, and I realised that, even though unread, my poor book need me to have the guts to do the decent thing. Unfortunately I don't have the guts, so husband was called to put it out of its misery.

He emerged from the kitchen a few minutes later with this:

Would you like that in close-up? Not for the faint-hearted, please look away if feeling weak…

"The glue's off", he said. Well true, but I could now read the blurb on the first prelim without actually turning the cover. I weakly enquired how he had managed it, "Brillo pad", was the reply.

You'll be pleased to know that back home I have all the usual tried, tested and book-friendly materials in the bookdealer's armoury for removing sticky stuff, and brillo pads never cross the bookroom threshold.


Jane Badger said...

You're right. It's not for the faint hearted. I hope "attacked by brillo pad" doesn't become standard book condition description! I wonder if it would be bp+ for a severe attack, and bp- for just a quick swish round.

Juxtabook said...

Yes, it would gve a whole new meaning to watermarked paper if it had actually joined the washing up!

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