Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ex Libris

Woman: You're being very unreasonable.
Doctor: Go away.
Woman: I'll only stay for five minutes.
Doctor: I'm not talking to you.
Woman: Erm, you are.
Doctor: I'm not talking to you any more.
Woman: You just did.
Doctor: Stop being so childish!
Woman (SMUGLY): I'm not the one with a chain on my door.
Doctor: I know why you've come. I know exactly why you've come.
Woman: I've brought you a present. (BEAT). To say thank you.
Doctor: A present?
Woman: Open the door. Please.
Doctor: What sort of present?
Woman: A book. I've bought you a book.
Doctor: You've been back to Borders, haven't you? I knew it!
Woman: I needed cranberries. M&S was my last hope.
Doctor: M&S?
Woman: It's next door to Borders.
Doctor: Stop there. I can see where this is going.
Woman: I would slide it under the door but it's ever so thick. (BEAT). Worked out at less than a penny a page.
Doctor: Give me a backstory.
Woman: What?
Doctor: I am not accepting any gifts until I have a backstory.
Woman: Is this fair? Really?
Doctor: You used me.
Woman: Only a little bit.
Doctor: Backstory.
Woman: O, if I must ... You are a reformed Jehovah's Witness who studied astrophysics at Havard before a minor nervous breakdown persuaded you that analysis was more your thing.
Doctor: A believable backstory.
Woman: What's unbelievable about that?
Doctor: Astrophysics?
Woman (SIGH): All right, you worked in community mental health for twenty years before beginning a private practice. You have a flatulent labrador, a daughter at university, you're divorced -
Doctor: Divorced?
Woman: Yes, which given the way you carry on is hardly surprising, and you attend open mic poetry evenings.
Doctor: Poetry?
Woman: Disgruntled.
Doctor: What?
Woman: You're clearly disgruntled. I go to immense trouble to buy you a book I think you will like, create a backstory at the drop of a hat, and all you've done is pick fault.
Doctor: You bought a book that was cheap. Cheap and thick.
Woman: But only because it reminded me of you ... Damn. I tried so hard not to say that.
Doctor: I -


Doctor: You can't roll credits just to get the last word! (BEAT). This is so unfair.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Doctor, Doctor

Doctor: So this dream you mentioned in your phone call ...?
Woman: O, it was awful! A nightmare!
Doctor: Yes ...?
Woman: I dreamed that Borders Bookshop was closing down and all the books were 20p.
Doctor: I believe Borders is closing down ..?
Woman: Yes, but the books weren't 20p. Originally, it was 20% off the R.R.P. Hardly a bargain, though now the discount is 50%-70% off, it's much better.
Doctor: Let's focus on the dream. Why was it so dreadful?
Woman: I couldn't get there. Borders - it was horrific - I couldn't get there. I was stuck in a shopping mall in Scotland pushing Judy Garland round Tesco in a wheelchair. Piles of red peppers - mountains - and bloody Judy Garland kept leaping out of the wheelchair to squeeze them. People were tutting!
Doctor: Tutting?
Woman: Yes, because she clearly didn't need a wheelchair at all. She was malingering.
Doctor: Is there anything else you wish to say about this dream?
Woman: No.
Doctor: Let's move on to the other issue you mentioned.
Woman: Yes.
Doctor: The daily visits to Borders. How many is it now?
Woman (PENSIVE): Ummm ... Five? Yes, five.
Doctor: And you buy a book each time.
Woman: No.
Doctor: No?
Woman: No. (BEAT). I buy lots of books each time.
Doctor: I see you have a bag with you now.
Woman: Mmm ...
Doctor: We discussed you not going to Borders today, didn't we?
Woman: We did.
Doctor: And yet - ?
Woman: I didn't deliberately go to Borders. I went to B&Q for a thingy.
Doctor: A thingy?
Woman: A thi - O, they're difficult to describe.
Doctor: Did you get one?
Woman: No. (BEAT). The man in B&Q didn't know what I meant.
Doctor: So you went to Borders instead?
Woman(FIRMLY): Not deliberately.
Doctor: Not deliberately ...
Woman (RUMMAGING IN CARRIER BAG): It might help if I told you what I'd bought?
Doctor: Would it?
Woman: Almost certainly. (BEAT). How the Light Gets In - M.J.Hyland, Collected Stories of Janice Galloway, How to Paint a Dead Man - Sarah Hall, The Magician - Somerset Maugham, The Law of Dreams - Peter Behrens, Resistance - Owen Sheers, Complete Short Stories of Robert Graves, Complete Shorter Fiction of Oscar Wilde, Big Mouth - Blanaid McKinney, The Collected Fiction of Neil Jordan and Something of Myself - Rudyard Kipling.
Doctor (SLOWLY): This isn't really a mini drama, is it?
Woman: No, I don't suppose it is.
Doctor: And I'm not really a character, am I? I'm just a thinly-veiled excuse for you to confess to buying a lot of books again - aren't I?
Woman (PACKING BOOKS AWAY AGAIN): I feel much better now, Doctor.
Doctor: Whereas I am left questioning the reason for existence in a post-Jungian panorama. (BEAT). Thanks.
Woman (HELPFULLY): There were still a lot of books left on the Psychology shelf ...


Friday, 18 December 2009

Alas, poor Borders Books...

I am not admitting how much I spent in the Borders Books Closing Down Sale but added to my to-read pile are:
Molesworth - Willans & Searle (Penguin)
Oscar's Books - Thomas Wright (Vintage)
Curfew and Other Stories - Sean O'Reilly (Faber)
Best International Crime - Maxim Jakubowski (Robinson)
The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness (Walker)
Smiley's People - John le Carré (Sceptre)
Letters of Ted Hughes - Christopher Reid (Faber)
The Vagrants - Yi Yun Li (Fourth Estate)
The Old Devils - Kingsley Amis (Vintage)
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
Cautionary Tales for Grown-ups - Chris Addison (Hodder)
The Collected Stories - Katherine Mansfield (Penguin)
Far North & Other Dark Tales - Sara Maitland (Maia)
Diary of a Madman & Selected Stories - Nikolay Gogol (Penguin)
Selected Tales - Edgar Allan Poe (Oxford Classics)
This Night's Foul Work - Fred Vargas (Vintage)
The Three Evangelists - Fred Vargas (Vintage)
Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls - Danielle Wood (Allen & Unwin)
Wish I was Here - Jackie Kay (Picador)
The Reader - Bernhard Schlink (W&N)
The World According to Garp - John Irving (W&N) - the latter two books being bound in thick cardboard with hand-marbled end papers; far too gorgeous to leave on the shelf
and - most thrillingly - Wyoming Tales by E. Annie Proulx; three beautifully bound hardback books in a dark blue slipcover, an edition I have coveted for almost a year.
"'Reality,' sa molesworth 2, 'is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder.'"