A few weekends ago I finished a book. Nothing remarkable in that statement, I hear you think. But this book closure was long, long overdue. Nine years to read a mere four hundred and seven pages is a little tardy, if not downright inexcusable. So, please sir, may I explain?
HV Morton's travelogue In Scotland Again (the 1965 reprint of the 1933 text, hardback with damaged dust jacket) was purchased by my dear mother-in-law at Haslam's Bookstore in St Petersburg, Florida, sometime in the late 1990s. She paid the princely sum of $7.50 for this gem of a book (the price sticker is still there on the inside cover) and it found its way into my possession in England where it languished sadly on a Portsmouth and then a Dartmouth shelf for many a year. Eventually, still unread, it was packed and, with us and dogs and cats, shipped to New York in 2001 where it rested on another shelf for five years. Never has a dust jacket lived up more to its name!
At a moment in time my daughter Kate was in her 3rd Grade (or was it 4th?) in school, and a regular duty was to pick her up from Our Lady of the Hamptons Roman Catholic primary school in Southampton at two-forty each afternoon. Whenever it was my turn the vagaries of my schedule and an instilled fear of being late (thanks, Royal Navy!) due to traffic meant that I was usually far too early. I needed a diversion, and a constructive one at that, so one afternoon picked Morton's book off my shelf, dusted it down, and took it with me. And in (I think) 2005 I began to read it.
The book lived in the glove compartment of that car for a few years, taken out at least three times a week, and then replaced. When that car gave up the ghost it was transferred to a new car. For a couple of years it was still read a few times a week as I waited for the school bell. But then the final bell rang and Kate transferred to the High School in Riverhead and the routines changed completely. It stayed in the compartment under a pile of other papers, and when that car's lease ended it was removed unceremoniously and placed back on the bookshelf. Where it remained for four and a half years.
In the autumn of 2014 (Oh my, that's now!) I was staring at the books on that shelf and remembered how much I had enjoyed the first hundred or more pages of In Scotland Again. So I picked it up, dusted it off again, and finding the page marked by a folded school concert flyer, began to read it again.
To the end.