At the moment I keep finding things in books. I like to create narratives behind these objects, imagine their stories. Every object has a story.
In Platform by Michel Houellebecq, which I read last week, I found a boarding card. Someone had presumably been reading my book (bought second-hand at Attingham Park bookshop) while travelling from London Heathrow to Gibraltar and had used their boarding card as a bookmark.
What is the story behind this object? Was it used for holiday? Or was it from a business trip? Or perhaps the owner of the card lived there. Had they ever been before? Was it their first trip abroad or one of hundreds? Were they a nervous flyer, or a bored flyer? What did they think of Platform? Did they worry about the person next to them on the plane reading over their shoulder (Platform contains lots of rude words)? Or perhaps the boarding card had belonged to someone else in their family and they were just using it as a bookmark.
If I imagine the time when this boarding pass was used I see the owner of the boarding card to be male. I see them as in their 40s or 50s. I think they are going on holiday to Gibraltar, or perhaps to visit a friend. It is July. It is hot. They are a bored flyer (they travel a lot for business too). I think they are staying with a friend and just for a few days. They like wine and fine food. They aren’t married, perhaps they had been once. They have teenage children. Their friend is an old friend, perhaps from work. They are follically challenged and have a slight paunch. They are single. They are good with the ladies though. They often drink whisky, on the rocks, with a twist. They are a manager. They manage people for a living. In fact, they are a middle manager. Of course now in the age of electronic boarding passes they could be no longer of this world. The text on the boarding card is very faint. I reckon this man is called Graham. I hope Graham is still bumbling about, perhaps taking his grandchildren to the park now.
In my current book, W or the Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec I found a pleading note. This note was not written by anyone in my family. It was obviously written by a child, called Gabi, perhaps aged about 12 or 14. I imagine a girl. But then W or the Memory of Childhood is not a children’s book. Perhaps it was given to a child by someone who thought the word ‘childhood’ in the title indicated that it was a children’s book?
Actually I imagine the owner to be a bit older, maybe late teenage (but with childish writing). They have been forced to read this book for their English Literature A level. They are more concerned with their crumbling friendship to study literature though. They fell out with Gabi over something trivial, that seemed significant at the time. The book belongs to Milly. She obviously wants to make friends again with Gabi otherwise she wouldn’t have kept the note in her A level English reading text. I hope they made friends. I hope they are still in touch. This note looks quite recent so perhaps they are at University now, not the same one, but keeping in touch by email.
A while ago, when I was at Powis Castle researching for my current art project which is based on the castle I spent some time talking to the ‘book cleaning ladies’ about things found in the books of Powis Castle that they clean. They told me that the most bizarre thing they ever found was a rasher of bacon.
I have no narrative for this article. I think someone just needed a bookmark in a hurry.
I hope I continue to find things in books. It makes life that bit more interesting.