Words and Wisdom

In the past, I have always needed books in my life. As a septuagenarian I still do. My earliest memory of the power of the written word was when I was about eight years old. Miss Campbell announced that “Today girls, we are going to learn how to knit.” I don’t remember what the boys did during that hour but I know I wished I was with them. To this day, I am more at home with a hammer in my hand than I would ever be wielding knitting needles.

Each afternoon ten busy little girls would add more and more to their pristine lines of knitting whilst the eleventh, that’s me, would unpick once more the holey (as in filled with holes) mess she had created and start again. Miss Campbell was patience personified, but even she had to admit I would not produce a scarf, ever. I could see she was at a loss as to what I could do instead. In a blind panic, thinking she might be toying with the idea of crochet, I said, “Please, could I read aloud to everyone while they knit?” The poor lady looked so relieved and agreed immediately. The afternoons became a pleasure after that, thanks to books.

I used my local library more and more, then came the day I was deemed old enough to visit it by myself. After school, I would spend most afternoons in that lovely old building. I had found a centre of soothing quiet and peacefulness. I wandered in a happy daze among the dark wood shelves where the dust motes swirled lazily. Within that haven, nothing could touch me. I am sure my fellow bibliophiles will understand when I say I will never forget that smell old books have. I now own a set of 1877 Waverley Novels by Sir Walter Scott. The pages are made from thin almost transparent paper with gilded edges that sometimes stick to my fingers as I turn a page. I wonder at them still being in such wonderful condition 144 years later.
The library and its books took me away from everything for a few hours. I was fourteen and eager to delve into all that was on offer. I read an immense variety of books but, my all-time favourites were Science Fiction. There were things I read about in books all those years ago that have become a reality today. I remember one story that gripped me as no other had.

Picture this, a gigantic city with block after block comprised of single rooms. The air is unbreathable, the water undrinkable. No one leaves their room unless there is no choice. Each tenant has a well-padded chair to which they are linked, with wires and tubes. In front of each of them is an enormous screen, with a keyboard, that is all. No art on the walls, soft rugs underfoot, stunning drapes, nothing but blankness. Here is the part that gave me nightmares. They, or perhaps I should I say we, all looked so similar, large bald heads, enormous eyes, small wasted bodies and hands with long, long thin fingers, all the better to key with!

So I think my point is that your local library has books that can be companions, teachers, and more.

Kate MacDonald

I’m Kate MacDonald, a retired septuagenarian. I started to write just over sixteen months ago at the start of the pandemic. I have many hobbies, but writing helps to fill an insomniac’s dark quiet hours. I’ve had ninteen poems and seven short stories published, online and in print by: Chris Fielden’s “Nonsensically Challenged,” which was for charity. High Shelf Press volume XXIII. WinglessDreamer. Spillwords Press. 805 Lit and Art. Funny Pearls. Little Old Lady Comedy. Dillydoun Review. The World of Myth Magazine.