I live in the charity shop district of Exmouth, so quite often I see nice things going for a song. Unfortunately, I also start work at eight in the morning and don’t finish until at least six, which makes it difficult actually to buy anything. Yesterday, however, I saw something so compellingly cheap and useful that I enlisted some help from the family to get it for me.

The Oxford Library of Words and Phrases

The Oxford Library of Words and Phrases

As you can see, the set has a lovely red cloth binding with (presumably) imitation leather spines, and it’s going to come in useful for more than beautifying my groaning bookshelves. Volume One is made up of quotations, Volume Two of proverbs and Volume Three of etymologies. It will now be even easier to make myself look clever when I write things.

What price did I pay for this little gem? The princely sum of three pounds. That makes a nice change from the branch of Oxfam that once charged me five-hundred pounds for a set of three second-hand books. Yes, I’m talking to you, Tony.

The Lord of the Rings, late first edition copies

Those expensive second-hand books. Late impressions from the first edition, 1961. You can just about see my favourite bookmark next to the phone.

I didn’t say I was overcharged, did I? Worth every penny.

I thought I might also share how I paid for my unwonted literary profligacy, so here’s a picture of a strengthener that I made for one of our clients. It’s made from medical grade Cobalt-Chromium alloy by the time-honoured technique of lost wax replacement casting, and I made it last week.

Full lower mesh strengthener, hand-made by yours truly.

Full lower mesh strengthener to stiffen an acrylic denture, hand-made by yours truly.

Plans are afoot to make my summer a lot more interesting than I expected it to be, so I’ve added a song about flying in airliners in honour of my impromptu holiday planning. It has virtually nothing to do with my summer plans, but what the hell? Parts of an aeroplane are mentioned in it, and that’s good enough for me.

I was going to end it there, but then I remembered a poem that I like, which is also about flying. This one is an ode to the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2C.

The Pilot’s Psalm (anonymous)

The B.E.2C is my ‘bus; therefore I shall want.
He maketh me to come down in green pastures.
He leadeth me where I will not go.
He maketh me to be sick; he leadeth me astray on all cross-country flights.
Yea, though I fly over No-man’s land where mine enemies would compass me about, I fear much evil for thou art with me; thy joystick and thy prop discomfort me.
Thou preparest a crash before me in the presence of thy enemies; thy R.A.F. anointeth my hair with oil, thy tank leaketh badly.
Surely to goodness thou shalt not follow me all the days of my life; else I shall dwell in the house of Colney Hatch forever.

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