Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cooking The Books

We have no car and no TV. What else would you expect from a Green household? In fact this blog is powered by anaerobic digestion and uses 95 per cent organic letters.

The reality is we live in a town centre where our shopping needs are met with a quick waddle, and our street is on a superb bus route into the metropolis for work and pleasure. That explains our pro-active move to get rid of car, but the loss of the TV is, I have to admit, not something of our making.

It’s simply stopped working and the sticker on the back warns against opening it up to tamper with its innards. It’s a foot-and-a-half deep cathode ray beast in silver rather than black, so that perhaps tells you we’re not dealing with cutting edge audio visual technology here.

I suggested a few days ago when it fizzled out it may have been the fuse in the plug. Less than 24 hours later upon arriving home from work Toddler greeted me with “Did you get a fuse?” Bless her little square eyes.

In the end we did get a replacement fuse to try but it made no difference. (Oh boy did I enjoy buying that fuse. I went into the Goliath Tesco at the end of the High Street as I couldn’t think where else would do fuses, and that’s all I bought despite their aircraft hanger-sized palace of consumer delights. I paid for it with copper coins. 19p. Take that, you corporate monstrosity!)

Toddler doesn’t watch a lot of telly but it’s certainly a useful tool for us if we’re trying to get something done in the house and need a few minutes to concentrate. To plug the gap until we get a new goggle box we’re deploying DVDs on the laptop, and it’s working out fine. We did toy with making do without the TV when we moved from Nairn to Musselburgh at the start of the year. WF and I lived for years without one before we got hitched but back then we were working crazy hours in our jobs and preferred to spend weekends going blind on Fuzzy Navels and going for walks on the West Coast. Plot developments in soap operas 1997-2004 is a real weak spot for me in pub quizzes.

I still hardly ever watch telly. Yessir, no TV for me. You won’t catch me lolling in front of cookery programmes for example. Just ignore what Wife-features is yelling from the back of the blog.

It is tempting to try living without it again but it is handy for the day job (what a shame the programmes that are relevant to what I do during the day are on at night) and I must have a big screen for the DVD collection. WF has been investigating and it looks like we’ll take a punt on a reconditioned box rather than buying a completely new one. Even a secondhand telly will be light years ahead of the model that has just gone kaput.

I mentioned the DVD collection - which we thinned down hugely for the flit - and it reminds me of the other collections that weighed down the removal van. Namely my records and our books. We did whittle them down but there are still mountains of them. With records (mostly CD but some vinyl) I’m afraid I’ll always be a sucker for a good album - you know, a bunch of songs with a running theme, a clear thought about running order, perhaps even a clear side A and side B, some witty liner notes and smart artwork. I-Tunes, schmi-Tunes.

But on books I may have a solution. (Which in turn reminds me of the song about solutions - Only An Expert, by one of my favourite album creators Laurie Anderson.) It has taken me about seven months to settle into the new work and home life and in that time I’ve not read a great deal for pleasure but I’m back in the swing now, and... Musselburgh I’ve realised doesn’t have a bookshop!

How could I have overlooked this when deciding on a place to live? There are plenty of charity shops that have secondhand books but you’d think the largest town in East Lothian, with a university, large high school and large private school would naturally support an independent bookshop, or at least a branch of something national. I mean, it’s got a Costa. What’s the point of that if you’ve got nothing to read in it?

My solution - and bear with me here as I’m about to get ultra-radical - is to Join The Library. Seriously, I was there the other day with Toddler to change her books (we cannot recommend the Pigeon series by Mo Willems highly enough) and I found myself fingering titles on the shelves for grown ups, thinking Hmm, that looks interesting and I’d never go out on a limb and buy that but by golly I could borrow it for a fortnight and get all the benefit of having read it without having incurred any cost!

I’m also aware with libraries it can be a case of use them or lose them. They are often seen as low hanging fruit by the Neanderthal bean-counters who run our councils. (Hello, hello, it’s Metaphor Police here again. Why would bean-counters be interested in fruit? Come along now, sir.)

And today I read the book reviews in the Sunday papers with added vim, making a mental note for titles to badger the librarian about next weekend. I apologise now if my thrifty manoeuvre results in Waterstone’s (I insist on the apostrophe) and Blackwell’s going down the pan. And no-one will know I actually did it so I could borrow The Great British Bake Off and Lorraine Pascale recipe books, pretending “they’re for the wife”.

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