Essentials for a home
I went to visit an ex-colleague at her house for the first time and thought something was rather odd about her home until I realised that she had no books on view. There were no bookshelves, no piles of books beside sofas. This quite disturbed me as I felt that the house was missing its soul. Silly I know, but it really did make me question if I knew this person as well as I thought. I know people now read on Kindles, tablets, phones and every electronic device possible, and I wouldn’t consider going on holiday without my own Kindle instead of lugging the traditional suitcase full of everyone’s reading matter, but a house without books did seem very unnatural.
I then wondered what else would make a home feel empty if it was missing. Animal lovers would immediately claim a house could not be a home without a cat/dog/guinea pig (take your pick). This I can completely understand, and it did take some strength not to replace the last of the children’s pets when the final one died. The relief of being able to go away without organising pet care in advance is still wonderful. Gardeners would not be able to have a home without at the least a window box to nurture, and a home in the country might well need an Aga stove.
For me, in addition to books, I need pictures. I would be quite happy sitting on packing cases and eating out of tins but could not live without books or pictures. The artist Phil Shaw has managed to combine both these essential needs into one and I am very tempted to buy one of his library pictures. His prints show a series of books but when you look closer you find they always have a theme and usually a fine sense of humour. The photo accompanying this blog shows one of his London Underground series of the Victoria Line (Londinensi subterraneis Victoria linea) starting in Walthamstow and finishing in Brixton. Maybe I could suggest to my ex-colleague that she could instantly improve her home by buying a Phil Shaw print.