I remember in my very early school days, when my class were developing basic writing proficiency, we had to write short accounts with the title “What I did on the weekend”.
As I rarely did anything really interesting on weekends, I sometimes embellished my reports – occasionally with embarrassing results.
One of these times was when I spun a story about a burning piece of coal falling from the grate onto the hearthside rug, starting a fire at home that needed a visit from the fire brigade.
Classmates shared the exciting story with their parents who later, either expressed their concern about the averted emergency, or berated me for being a liar. I don’t remember what happened when the story got back to my parents – but I suspect they wouldn’t have been too upset about me stretching the truth for a school writing exercise.
The only other thing I remember writing about (and this time it was a GENUINE experience) was when I saw my very first helicopter, a rarity around my childhood home at that time. These days’ living next door to a hospital, low flying helicopters are reasonably frequent.
Those memories, stirred up by my title, have nothing to do with what I intended to write. What did I do last weekend?
Firstly, it was a long weekend because I also had Friday off.
Gloria and I had intended to stay overnight in Canberra on Friday, so we could attend a “swap meet” on Saturday morning. For those unfamiliar with that term, it’s a kind of trash and treasure market where we’ve seen a lot of rusty car parts but have also found some interesting collectables (art glass, porcelain, militaria).
We had been anticipating this weekend for many months and I booked a hotel room several weeks ago – but as we got closer to the date of the swap meet the weather forecast became a concern, with predictions of rain and possible storms. At the beginning of the week we therefore decided to forget about the market, and I cancelled the overnight accommodation. Instead we made our time in Canberra a day trip (a four hour drive there and back).
For some time I’d been trying to visit a second hand bookshop in one of Canberra’s suburbs, but on recent visits the owner had been sick and the shop remained closed. This time, after a couple of months, it was open again and I was able to look for some of the books on my personal wish-list.
I was happy to find four books by the authors on my list, but what made their discovery even more exciting was the fact the books were the ones I wanted most – books that bridged a gap in the sequence of a series of stories I’ve been reading, or wanted to read.
Books I found:
Sinister Intent, Karen M Davis. First book by Davis. I’d already purchased a new copy of her second book and had tried to order a copy of this one. however after making the purchase online, the bookseller contacted me to say that they couldn’t guarantee a timely fulfilment of the order, so allowed me to cancel it. The copy I found was the same edition that I’d tried to order, an edition that may now be out of print.
Still Midnight, Denise Mina. I haven’t read anything by Mina, but have heard some radio interviews with her. This is the first book in one of the series she’s written, so I thought it would be a good introduction to her work, without having to spend more on something I potentially might not like.
Deity, Steven Dunne. The third of Dunne’s books. I’ve already finished the first two and this one was on my wish list to follow up in the future. At this stage there are other books on my list with a higher priority, but I couldn’t miss the chance of getting a cheap copy now. Dunne is one of my recent discoveries of writers basing work in Derbyshire. His settings are in Derby itself, only 12 or so miles from where I used to live.
The Devil’s Edge, Stephen Booth. Another writer with a Derbyshire setting. I’ve bought several of his books so far, about half new and half second hand. There are so many to get that I feel justified not buying them all new.
If affordable, and still in print, I prefer to buy new so the author doesn’t miss out on the tiny portion of royalties they’d get from my purchases.