To Boy, love from Stumpy
Table of Contents
I started writing a blog because I wanted to talk about books anonymously. The reason I did it anonymously was because I didn’t, and still don’t really, think that I am at all clever or insightful enough to have decent opinions on books. If I love them, I can’t really tell you why; and if I hate them I tend to just swear a lot and get frustrated. The best and most fitting anonymous name that I could think of for me was BookCunt. I fucking love books and I have a cunt. Job done.
The first book I reviewed was
The Tiny Wife
by Andrew Kaufman that had been given to me by a friend. After I reviewed that I didn’t really know what else to do. I didn’t have any other new books to review, and no one really knew about the blog so I wasn’t getting sent any review copies by anyone, so I posted a story about the time that a man chased me down the street because of Isaac Asimov. People liked it, they thought it was funny. And it was easy to write because it was true. It had happened just before I left to go to university as I was hanging around in town trying to find a job to make some money so that when I got to university I had some money to piss away. So, I asked my (ten or so) followers on Twitter what they wanted from the blog; did they want book reviews or did they want stories? And they all said stories, which was fine by me because I had a fucking shitload in my head just ready to tell. I carried on with reviews, as I started to get authors and publishers sending me things to read, but every Saturday I’d post a story of something that had happened to me.
I can remember every single book I’ve ever read, and I can remember where I was and what I was doing while I was reading them all. This is a collection of my stories, some that have been posted on my blog and some that have not, of some of the mental shit that has happened to me. They’re not all directly about me, sometimes I was just observing. And some of the links to books are pretty tenuous. But they’re all true and they’re all as honest as I can be with a bunch of strangers on the internet. I don’t think that my life has been as fucked up and mental as some of these stories would suggest. I don’t think that I’m the only person that this sort of stuff happens to, and I don’t think that any of it is particularly new or exciting. It’s just a bunch of stuff that has happened over the last 27 years, to someone who has spent most of their life hiding behind the pages of a book. Some of it makes me sad and makes me cry, and some of it makes me feel so fucking lucky to have been there. All of it is given to you, with love, from an anonymous book blogger.
BookCunt, August 2012
The first book I ever remember reading is
Owl At Home
, by Arnold Lobel. I’m not sure whether I ever actually read it as a child, or whether it was read to me so much that I memorised the words, but I did used to sit and turn the pages and recite the stories from it. I don’t know where the copy came from, but it is full of library stamps, which means that my Mum or possibly my Grandma probably got it from a library sale to read to me. I’ve still got my copy of the book. It currently sits on my bookcase nestled in amongst the rest. But
Owl At Home
is more special than the others, because it is my oldest book and because it features in my earliest memory.
I must have been about three years old. I used to sit in the garden, reading
Owl At Home
out to myself. We had a pretty big garden, and I was sitting in the middle of the lawn. Mum was in the kitchen preparing dinner, Dad was at work, and my younger brother was zipping about all over the patio in his walker.
I wasn’t particularly fond of him at the time. He was always in the way, he smelt, and in that walker he could come at you out of nowhere pretty fast. When I was on the lawn he couldn’t get to me. At the end of the patio was a path. The path led down to where the big bin was – one of those metal jobbies with a lid with a handle, like they had in
. You couldn’t see the path from the kitchen window. I looked up from my book just in time to see my brother, in his walker, zooming down the path.
It was Thursday. Bin day. Instead of the bin at the end of the path there was an empty space, an empty space where the path abruptly ended leaving a little step and a small hole. I watched him get to the end of the path, watched the front wheel of the walker drop down into the hole and all of a sudden my brother was horizontal and screaming his fucking head off. I glanced to the kitchen window. I could see Mum chopping vegetables. I could hear music, she was listening to a tape, the one that I called
by Tim Buckley). She couldn’t hear my brother crying in the hole. I put my book down and walked over to him to have a look. He looked like a twat. Red-faced and crumpled eyes from all the tears. One of his shoes had fallen off. I picked up the shoe and headed for the kitchen. Mum was dancing around. I handed her the shoe. She shouted at me ‘
Why have you taken your brother’s shoe? For God’s sake, Jesus
…’ and headed outside to replace the shoe. I followed her.
She saw my brother, screaming in the hole. She gasped, ‘
, but instead of going to help him dashed back inside. I waited outside. She came back moments later with a camera, walked towards the hole, took a picture, and then lifted my brother out of the walker, pulled the walker out of the hole and popped him back in it, giving him a little shove towards the safety of the patio. He promptly shut his fat face and started wandering around the patio, as if nothing had happened. Mum went back to chopping the vegetables and dancing to Tim Buckley, and I went back on to the lawn to finish reading
Owl At Home
I grew up mostly in the garden. We lived in the countryside, fucking miles away from anything. My best friend was my brother and my second best friend was the cat. On the right hand side we had an elderly neighbour, and on the left a newly engaged couple. My brother and I were the only children and so spent our days playing together.
It wasn’t bad growing up in the garden, because it was a shit-hot garden: a big lawn and loads of trees and flowers and bushes. A vegetable patch at the back, a patio at the front. Plenty of space for running around and hiding from each other and finding new things to discover.
My parents had bought us a Wendy house each. I say Wendy house, but mine was some plastic sticks assembled into a house-like shape with a canvas slung over the top that was decorated like a house, with windows and a roof and all of that kind of shit. My brother’s was a tipi, a bunch of plastic sticks that met at the top with a similar canvas sheet thrown over the top with decoration on.
When you’re playing in the same garden every single day you have to get creative with your games. On this day, I’d decided (I made almost all of the decisions) that my brother and I were going to play ‘decorate the houses and then move in and be neighbours’. First things first: decorate the houses.
I had this wonderful picture in my head of daisies growing around the bottom of my house. As daisies don’t just grow where you want them to, this meant picking daisies and placing them around the edges. I decided that instead of daisies that my brother should decorate around his tipi with tufts of grass, because daisies were a bit girly and also because I didn’t need the little shit taking any of my precious daisies.
Now, being a clever and scheming child, I knew that picking enough daisies would take a fucking age. I also knew that picking grass was a piece of piss. So, I lied to my brother. I told him that he could decorate with daisies and I’d decorate with grass, so he’d better pick all the daisies from the lawn and put them in a basket, and I’d do the same but instead fill a basket with grass. We got to work.
After ten minutes my basket was overflowing with grass, but my brother, having to painstakingly pick each daisy one by one, was not doing so well. His basket didn’t even have the bottom covered in daisies.
I told him to hurry up and that I was moving in now. I went inside and picked up my things. Into my lovely house went
Mr Meddle’s Muddles
, a swan Keyper (do you remember those toys, Keypers?), a notepad and pen, and the cat. The cat did not stay in the house for long.
Even after I’d moved in my brother was still picking daisies. He was so slow and shit. I went into my house and looked at the pictures in
and waited for him to finish. After what felt like hours, he came to show me how much he’d got.
It wasn’t great, to be honest, but he’d probably been at it two hours and I really needed to decorate my house. So I took the basket from him and told him that there had been a change of plan and that he was decorating with grass and I’d have all these daisies. He was not happy.
He screamed at me that they were his. I told him that no, the grass was his, he didn’t want flowers to decorate a tipi anyway.
Unfortunately, being my only friend, he knew my weakness: the flowers that hung up on the side of the wall of the house to dry. That old woman that lived on the right was teaching me about drying and pressing flowers and all of the other shit that old ladies do because they are bored to tears. He told me he was going to pull the flowers down, and began to stride purposefully towards the house.