While I’ve Been Away…

‘Don’t you think that forty-eight is a good age,’ Mr Litlove began conversationally, ‘to start a jewellery collection?’

We were in town shortly before his birthday and we both knew my reason to be there was to shop for that event. Mr Litlove has always loved a fair bit of hoopla around his birthday. In previous years my wall calendar has been defaced with messages over the start of February that read ‘take out bank loan to buy Mr Litlove’s presents!’ and then later in the month, ‘do you have enough presents yet?’ and ‘don’t forget the cake!’ This mention of jewellery was a nonsense though, from a man who’d needed much persuasion to wear a wedding ring. Still, I was happy to play the game.

‘Shall I get you a big chunky gold necklace?’ I asked. ‘Or maybe a bracelet?’

‘These could be my Mr T. years!’ he declared. ‘I could be the white Mr T. I could wear a lot of gold, get myself a mohawk…’ he sighed happily. ‘The things you can do when you don’t have a job.’

‘But you do still have a wife,’ I pointed out. ‘At the moment.’

Mr Litlove thought that this was a consideration, when it came to jewellery and mohawks.

Oh my dear readers, it has been a while since I’ve posted here, but as you can see, not much has changed in the meantime. We are as foolish as ever. I have had every test known to the human eyeballs and mine are perfectly healthy, which is excellent news. I think gradually they are recovering from what has felt like weeks of eye strain. I’ve been prescribed reading glasses, which I’m really hoping will work a little miracle. Even if, well, reading glasses! And blue-tinted ones at that, to make it easy to look at the computer screen. But if it means I can read again, then so be it.

In the meantime, thank goodness for audio books. I’d just cancelled my Audible subscription when this happened, as I had a whole bunch of books on my ipod that I hadn’t listened to. There had been a sale, and I’d stocked up on three Agatha Christies, which were perfect convalescent material. I also loved Back When We Were Grown-Ups by Anne Tyler, Enigma by Robert Harris and Hot Water by P. G. Wodehouse (glorious foolishness). After that, though, I stalled in The Great Gatsby and The House of Mirth. Who knew that those beautiful, elegant sentences of Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton could end up sounding cumbersome when read aloud? And beyond those books, lay the mammoth forty hours of Can You Forgive Her? and the even more whopping fifty hours of The Count of Monte Cristo. Both of which I had bought in sales (the Count a mere £2.50). I may have been overly concerned about value for money.

Anyway, I happened to be in the bath when there was a knock on the front door and, a little while afterwards, the sound of something being pushed through the cat flap in the back door. I thought it was just the post, as my postman has devised this method of delivering books when I’m out. However, when I got downstairs, I found a big pile of books on CD – The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Simon Mawer, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, Deaf Sentence by David Lodge…. eight novels altogether. I was in awe. Who had pushed these goodies into my figurative lap? I wondered if it could possibly be the postman. He’s a bit of a local hero, having made the paper over Christmas for rescuing a woman’s cat after it was involved in a hit and run. And I see a fair bit of him because… well, for the reason you probably all know your postman quite well too! He’d been very sweet and sympathetic about my incapacitated state and I imagined it might be the sort of thing he’d do. But magnificent though my postman is, I somehow couldn’t imagine him knowing who Barbara Kingsolver was, and that I’d like her novels. Then when I checked my emails later in the day, there was one from my lovely friend, Rosy Thornton, who hadn’t been able to bear the thought of me unable to read and so had lent me her collection. What a darling! Since then I’ve been alternating The Girl Who Fell From The Sky (very good indeed) with the last of my own audio books, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (also excellent).

Mr Litlove is getting on well with his furniture making. I went for a haircut and procured him another commission – a coffee table for the hairdressing salon. He did have one tragic accident, though, when he dropped his smart phone and the glass cracked on the garage floor. This also happened on the same day that he popped the bag in his vacuum press – it was just one of those days. Although now I think about it, today he put his foot through the knee of his new birthday overalls. It’s no wonder I have nightmares about health and safety. Fortunately, the overalls were very cheap so whilst we hope my mother can perform a miracle with her needle, I could always buy him a new pair.  (They were so cheap that when we were looking online I offered to buy him the matching underwear to go with them, but he declined.)

If you get a chance, do let me know how you are in the comments. I absolutely loved the comments on the post about the menopause. Really, you are the funniest, cleverest and kindest readers in the blogosphere. But I’ve been away for a while.



22 thoughts on “While I’ve Been Away…

  1. Can You Forgive Her is one of my all-time favourite novels – powerful, poignant psychological insight that is for its time just astonishing – I’m sure you’ll love it, though it ‘s not entirely cheerful or relaxing. Deaf Sentence is way up there on my list too, and as wryly heart-warming as one expects from David Lodge on top form. Enjoy your audiobooks and get well soon, dear LitLove.

  2. I am very glad that you and Mr. L are still among the living, although what with his accident-prone-ness and his apparent desire to emulate a gang member (albeit a benign one) his days may be numbered.

  3. The trouble with jewellery as a gift is that it is so easily lost, especially by someone accident prone. For a more lasting gift, I would wholeheartedly recommend starting a tattoo collection. 🙂

  4. I have a friend very much like Mr Litlove with regard to birthdays although having two young children seems to have shifted his focus a little. Very pleased to hear that you’re able to read again and that all now seems well with your sight.

  5. I collect jewellery, however I don’t wear it myself and I do not own a wedding ring as that would be a safety hazard in my line of work, so I don’t see why My L shouldn’t 🙂 Glad to hear from you (on this forum) again and I am not sure whether “foolish” is the right word – I suspect not and if I can come up with another one encapsulating the concept but with a hint of independence of thought and a touch of devil-may-care attitude (with a new perfume concept as a spin off too perhaps) then I will share it with both of you!

    Hiugs and xx, Peter

  6. I’m glad that you’re enjoying ‘The Girl Who Fell From The Sky’. Simon Mawer is one of my favourite authors. I don’t know if it’s available as an audio book, but his most recent novel, ‘Tightrope’, takes the story further and is just as good.

  7. This is lovely and funny and I’m so so glad your eyeballs have been declared healthy and that your (sexy and mysterious, obviously) blue-tinted reading glasses are proving to be the solution from heaven. I’m glad Mr Litlove’s health-and-safety scares are recoverable-from and I wish you both the very very best. Me? The usual. Writing and thinking it’s awful. Writing and thinking it’s not so bad. Getting better at holding Elizabeth Gilbert’s soliloquy to fear in my heart when I’m writing (see here, if you haven’t before: http://www.angela-young.co.uk/a-valentine-to-fear-and-visual-verse/ ).

  8. Lovely to see you are back and I hope things will pick up with the glasses. Can’t do without mine now. Recently read The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver which I loved. David Lodge has long been a favourite, so I hope you enjoy it too. Oddly Deaf Sentence is one of the few I haven’t read. Heard him talk about Therapy once and had a chat about my favourite, Small World, but that was years ago. Never been a jewellery man myself, but he could have a medallion with a crossed hammer and chisel on it! Best wishes.

  9. I do love your tales of life with Mr Litlove. Glad to hear that audiobooks have been filling the gap, but hope that the glasses are helping. I’m currently grappling with the Proust graphic novel, but I fear it’s not Shiny enough…

  10. Your husband and I have the longing to be spoilt for our birthdays in common! Very pleased, however, that he has stopped short of having a gangsta midlife crisis. Not at all surprised that Trollope and Wharton were a bit of an audiobook drag; Trollope’s utterly unnecessary parenthetical meanderings, like the musings of a demented uncle, are bits that I sometimes skip when reading—can’t imagine the irritation of not being able to fast-forward them!

  11. Mr Litlove needs some bling! He should get his ear pierced and you should get him a big diamond to go in it. But because the rock will be so expensive you must pierce his ear for him with a needle, ice and a potato. Someone must also be there to take photos 🙂

    Your reading glasses will be little miracles. I’ve worn them for years and am almost to the point of not being able to read without them. But they have saved my the pain of so many headaches and eye twitching and wrinkles from squinting I am sure yours will do wonders as well.

    Also I am very glad you pooped up. I have been meaning to email you and check in for ages and feel terribly guilty for not having managed it.

  12. Missed you, and what a surprise to hear about the way The Great Gatsby sounds when read aloud.
    I got a Facebook message about a Royal Academy of Arts/Pindrop short story competition and one of the judging criteria is that it should sound good read aloud. Here is a link to last year’s winner if you are wanting a good listen. I like the way it is warm and ungimmicky and both comfortably and uncomfortably real – https://audioboom.com/boos/3403078-ra-and-pin-drop-short-story-award-with-stephen-fry

  13. What a magnificent display of friendship! That’s wonderful, and I’m glad you have plenty of good reading material while you’re resting your eyes.

    Let’s see, updates from my end! I am going to see Hamilton soon, my utterly favorite musical at the moment and probably for some time into the foreseeable future. And I’m going to Los Angeles partly for work and partly for play, so that will be lovely (or unlovely! I have never been! who knows what awaits me!), and there’s an absolutely ginormous book sale coming up at which I plan to cram full the empty spaces on my bookshelves. Many good things ahead!

  14. Like Annabel, I do enjoy your stories of life with Mr LitLove. Glad to hear you are doing okay as I was getting a little worried there. Audio books are a godsend at times like this. Having the ‘right’ narrator can make all the difference though – sometimes it’s a question of tone as different books requires different styles 🙂

  15. So glad you’re back and recovering. Those glasses sound quite chic. I love audiobooks but I love them more when I can walk around the park. And I always feel a little guilty if I abandon them halfway through. Forty hours though is way too loooong.
    Happy belated birthday to Mr L! I agree that some carpentry-themed gangsta bling could be just the thing. 🙂 As long as it isn’t a Health and Safety hazard.
    Life here is much the same. Parenting, counselling, plodding along. Reading-wise I’m enjoying Tanya Byron’s psychology memoir “Skeleton Cupboard”.

  16. I am REALLY glad that your eyes are getting better!

    But it’s possible to buy overalls with matching underwear? There is a whole world out there.

  17. I’m also really glad to hear that your eyes are getting better. I’m also sensing that the CFS isn’t afflicting you as much? Some people read until they get tired, then nap. For me, just reading the lists of what you intend to read makes me rest my eyes.

  18. Rosy Thornton, by all accounts, is the nicest person ever.
    I have about six pairs of cheap little magnifier reading glasses around my house, in my purse, and tucked into my traveling bags, which haven’t been unpacked all year. I can no longer read without them, but it took me a long while to get used to wearing glasses at all, since I’ve never worn them before.

  19. Hello litlove. This post was good fun to read, and I heartily applaud your husband’s approach to birthdays. Birthdays are an acknowledgement that one was born, and just as important, is still alive! I have been away from wordpress, too, because I had a knee replacement in November, 2015, but I’m finally back and posted a piece yesterday. I would love to get your reaction. Best wishes to you for a full “eye” recovery.
    –Judith R-G

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