Round and Round She Goes

Well, to quote Alan Carr, ‘What a week it’s been!’

Sometimes, you think life is just so dreary and depressing and you can’t see a way out and everything just feels wrong and hopeless. Then, as is life’s way, everything changes in a heartbeat, and suddenly life is wonderful again and full of possibilities.

Take my driving lessons, for example. Now, lately it seems that all I seem to do is go round and round flipping roundabouts. All right, I know I’m having problems with them but, come on! Give me a break! There are literally (maybe!) hundreds of roundabouts in this city and, of course, one of the biggest ones is right next to the test centre. I have been assured by my gleeful instructor that I will most certainly have to tackle that at the very beginning of my test, therefore it is essential that I get to grips with them. I just don’t see the point of roundabouts. They manage perfectly well without them in America, don’t they? Every time I get near one my hands grip the steering wheel a bit tighter and I start to panic. Do I signal first? Do I change gear? Do I start to brake?

‘Why not try looking in your mirror?’ asked my driving instructor, helpfully. Yes, that would probably be a good idea. Thanks for that! So, I got into the car yesterday thinking, here we go again, round and round and round. I’m in total sympathy with Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I always remember laughing at that scene where the bemused American family are in London and hit a roundabout and just go round and round it with the poor father muttering, “I cannot get left”. Hours later, as darkness falls, they are still driving round and round and a slightly hysterical man is saying over and over, “Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!” to his family who have long since fallen asleep.  Yep, I can quite easily see that happening to me.

So, anyway, I got in the car with a sigh and my driving instructor told me to start the car and off we headed. And you know what? She took me out of the city and into the countryside, along winding country lanes, through sleepy little East Yorkshire villages, with flat open landscapes, vast skies, pretty little cottages and verges bright with daffodils. Not a roundabout in sight. It was amazing and all the tension just ebbed away from me.

‘I wanted to remind you what you’ll get out of passing your test,’ she explained to me. ‘When you can drive on your own you’ll be able to come out into the countryside and just drive whenever and wherever you want to.’ She was right, of course, and it reminded me that all the tackling roundabouts is going to be so worth it in the end.

‘Did you enjoy that?’ she asked me. ‘Definitely,’ I replied, eyes shining in wonder and innocence. ‘Good,’ she said, ‘cos you’re not going to enjoy the next lesson.’  She’s a wicked woman, that one! (But very wise!)

Meanwhile, in other news, if you can recall in my last post I told you that I had given up on my marriage, taken off my wedding ring and resigned myself to the inevitable. Except now the situation has totally reversed, and out of the blue things have shifted in the opposite direction, and I never, never thought I would hear the things I have heard said to me in the last few days. I had honestly given up. They say it’s always darkest before dawn and I think they’re probably right. It’s the same with books, isn’t it? They always tell you to give your characters their “black moment” – that time when everything seems hopeless and you think there’s no possible way back for them. It happens right before the golden moment, when everything tips back into its rightful place and harmony is restored. Such is life. I have noticed this phenomenon before. When I have stopped trying, stopped pushing against fate, or God, or the Universe or whatever you like to call “it”, and just given up and allowed whatever is going to happen, happen, it always seems to come right. I call it sweet surrender. I’m not saying I’m now wearing my wedding ring and we’re back together and everything in the garden is rosy, but I do finally think we’ve got a chance…and that’s something I’d totally dismissed only last week.

On to other, less philosophical, but very interesting matters…books!! The lovely Lizzie Lamb, wrote a great blog post the other day about books that we could never part with. It’s over on the New Romantics 4 blog and if you haven’t read it do pop over and take a look. There’s a link to their blog on my blogroll on the right of this page. Lizzie was chatting about her favourite books – books that she’s had for years and couldn’t bear to lose. I don’t understand people who can read a book and then just give it away. I love my books – all of them are precious to me, and it broke my heart when I had to part with so many during my house move. I just didn’t have the room any more. I mean, I had to leave all of my furniture behind so I couldn’t justify ALL of my books coming with me, although I did give it a damn good try and the box room of my daughter’s house is still crammed full of boxes with the ones I couldn’t be persuaded to let go. If there was ever a book version of Desert Island Discs I would be hopeless at it. I just love them and when I’m feeling stressed I often find myself just standing or sitting gazing at my bookcase and staring at the books on the shelves. It soothes me. (I do hope you’re with me on this one or you’re really going to be thinking I’ve lost the plot…so to speak!)

Anyway, when I started thinking about all the books I have loved, it occurred to me how much I actually adored the physical form of the book. I love my Kindle and there is something highly seductive about being able to spot a book on Amazon, press a button and have it delivered to you, ready to read within a second or two. But books, real books, are just so beautiful, and you miss out on the feel and touch and smell of them with ebooks.

Choc Lit author, Sarah Tranter, recently posted her cover reveal on Facebook for her brand new novel Romancing the Soul (can’t wait till January to read it!) and it really is lovely. It occurred to me that we miss out a lot on these things when we only see the cover as a tiny square on the Amazon page. Just the other week, I was in a supermarket staring at the bookshelves (I always do this – my family hate going shopping with me) and I found myself drawn to two in particular. In fact, I was so drawn to them that I bought them. The first was Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley (which was fantastic, read my review elsewhere on this blog) and A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews (currently reading). The covers were lovely, the books felt chunky and the smell of fresh books is almost as enticing as the smell of fresh bread!  There has been a lot of talk about the demise of the printed book but I honestly don’t believe it will ever happen. There is a place for both electronic books and physical books and I don’t see why there is so much hysteria about the subject. Books are far too beautiful ever to be replaced and in an uncertain world, I find that deeply reassuring. How about you?

Have a great week x

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