Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Single minded

I've been suffering. It's all thanks to Richard II being deposed. And, as the days have passed by, I've become increasingly desperate to get hold of Henry IV. Preferably a well-researched, well-written account, with all the politics thrown in. Now the library's been disappointing to say the least. Nothing on Henry IV, excepting some Shakespeare plays and an unread paperback on the Wars of the Roses. Clearly, I reason, there's been a run on Henry IV.

Well, things are getting desperate today, because I've forgotten my book and I have nothing to read. I've left Terry Jones' Medieval Lives behind on the kitchen table. Now it's been entertaining enough, providing a nitty gritty poke-about in other people's personal bits. With all its scandals of unconsummated marriages, underpants and virgins, it might be like reading The Sun newspaper, only 700 years out of date - but it's not Henry IV, and that's what I'm hankering for.

So this morning I drive the kids into the local town for a lesson, and plan in my child-free hour to pop to the local high street. Here I'll park the car, and quickly run through the history shelves in Cancer Research, Oxfam, British Red Cross and the Community Shop, all while the kids are saying Bonjour and Comment allez vous. Then when we go to the playground afterwards, they can be Normans again while I'm the Anglo-Saxon in the hut grunting leave me alone because I'm just reading this very interesting history book I found in the charity shop. And it's on Henry IV.

Only there's nowhere to park outside Cancer Research. Double yellows are everywhere. There's a multi-storey round the block at £6 but I have 45 minutes. So I drive round. And round. And round. Looking. By then I've only 30 minutes before I have to pick the kids up. Fired up with my geography A level, with the outskirts of a town being the zone of decay or proximal development or something like it where there are sure to be specialist charity shops and history bookshops, I drive like the clappers to the outskirts of town.

But I don't see any charity book shops. I see a charity furniture shop. But I don't want a sofa. I need a book on Henry IV. I must have it. I need it now. And then I remember that supermarkets sell books. They'll have a book on Henry IV. I have 10 minutes. I drive to Sainsbury's which is on the way back to the lesson. I leap out and run into the store. They sell DVDs. They sell clothes. They sell double espresso makers. Do they sell books on Henry IV? No.

Now I am a woman possessed. Of course! I know where I'll find a book on Henry IV! The hall behind the church where the kids are chanting Comment allez vous! The church will have an honesty bookshelf! They'll have a book on Henry IV! Why didn't I think of this before? I could have saved myself the trauma all along. With two minutes to go before pick-up time, the tyres are squealing as I round the final roundabout. I do an emergency stop outside the church, push the kids out the way and run to the foyer where they keep the adverts on churchy things and where my search is bound to come to an end.

Only there isn't an honesty bookshelf. There never has been. There's some leaflets on how to pray and some leaflets on the local hospice and some leaflets on being a good Christian. I want to cry. I don't want to be a good Christian. I want a book on Henry IV.

And as the kids are climbing into the car and my hour of child-free time is gone, I reflect how narrow-minded and foolish I've been. I've been trapped into a line of thinking; of course I'm not going to find a book on Henry IV in a small local town just when I want it.

No. What I need to do is dump the kids back home and glue myself to the office computer for two hours spending £175 on an Amazon wish list before presenting it to Dig as a Christmas must-have, or else. There. Much better.


Elizabeth said...

Just have to ask--are you the ultimate history buff, or do you do something work related or creative-ish with all the history facts you seem to consume like no one I've known!

Also--how is life post EH?

grit said...

hello elizabeth! history's a hobby interest... but it does seem to inform our daily living. and i am jolly glad to be shot of eh.