1. My father read Tolkien to me as a kid. It was the 1960s.
2. Tolkien is still popular now. Sadly this fact more arises from movie reviews than book reads. Movies can be great, but also they lose so much. I wonder why people do not experience FOMO when they have only viewed the movie and there is a whole book waiting to be read?
3. A single book can change the world. Tolkien’s four books of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings created new worlds of imagination, changed the world of literature and the world of art would never be the same again.
4. My father’s copies had stiff cardboard covers encased in a red fabric fading to pinkish. The fabric was worn to threadbare in places such as the corners and finger grip sites. The spines were ragged and peeling.
5. The physical books themselves looked and felt to me as timeless as the story.
6. My father was in his late 20s or early 30s. He was full of energy. He loved to read.
7. I don’t know where those books went. I have owned other editions in paperback, but despite three rereads, they never read quite the same way.
8. Possibly one of my sisters still has those first Lord of the Rings books I inhabited.
9. In my teens, I met many people who read and reread Tolkien. Quite appropriately at the time, another thing we had in common was being permanently stoned.
10. Tolkien was interesting all over again in my teens while we smoked and toked like chimneys.
11. It didn’t matter who you mixed with when you were permanently stoned. Almost everyone was interesting in a pumped up, flattened out sort of way. So you could readily share Tolkien imagery in one way or another.
12. I met many people who thought they were connected to other worlds in that time. Middle Earth was often their gateway.
13. Middle Earth was my gateway to the other amazing worlds of sci fi and fantasy. They remain as close as I ever got to the more esoteric experiences though. Not for lack of trying.
14. Some people said they had mastered astral travelling. I liked the idea of watching my detached body from the ceiling while it lay on a bed or the floor or a couch below as I prepared to launch myself into otherworldly places.
15. I never mastered astral travelling. Although I did master tripping on several occasions.
16. As weird and wonderful as tripping could be, Tolkien’s Middle Earth was more real, coherent and creative. Eventually I decided I preferred the Middle Earths of this world.
17. Middle Earth has deep cultural experiences in which to partake. It is full of creativity, new beings, new languages, rituals, text based and oral histories, poetry and songs.
18. Every time a poem or song came along my father went into character such that he gave life to these many cultures so I could understand them better and live them through him.
19. As an adult I will never return to Middle Earth in quite the same way, so I am so grateful I went there first as a child.
20. I hope I have given some of the same experiences to my children as a father and I look forward to trying again as a grandfather.
21. To CRT Mathews and JRR Tolkien - I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the world of Middle Earth.
- 1. A Nostalgic Knife. This knife still gives me the warm and fuzzies. We bought it at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in England in 1986 along with a chopping board and a plastic food container. As we travelled around various countries thereafter those three items provided for preparing many meals on the road.
The board and container are long gone, but the knife has survived and is still in service. It did disappear in the early 2000s for a few years. Then much to my delight I dug it up in the garden one day. How it got there is a mystery that has never been solved. Amazingly, it cleaned up good as new and continues to have a sharp edge.
Is there a case for sentimental attachment to such objects? Yes, I think there is because it isn’t the object itself you are attached to, it is the associations it conjures up. For better or worse many are emotionally potent and the good ones can be well worth reliving.
2. More on the Vegemite theme. I didn’t mention the optional addition of Avocado yesterday, but have been inspired to do so by comments made by other Vegemite fans. This combo is especially good on homemade rye or sourdough. Definitely a good thing!
3. The pleasure of choosing the next book to read. Reading can’t be beaten for transporting you to another place or learning things new or anew. As I approach the end of a book I experience a double shiver of anticipation. The climax of the story or the summary of the learning is experienced concurrent with the knowledge that I get to savour the next choosing. Even if a book turns out to be a disappointment, the enticement of its unknown content at the outset will always be something to look forward too. So, I am looking forward to Bill Bailey next. I will let you know what I think.
I sit on my green cane chair The best chair for thinking It is outside It has the advantage of being in a good place A verandah from which there is much to see Even if the weather is cold it is in the right position because the wind slides past laterally In this chair you can avoid confronting winds of change You can sit here for a long time confident you won’t have to move or make way for someone or something You can watch all sorts of things unfold from this chair Insects birds animals people the day the night the light Seasons pass you by I unfold from this chair This is a sitting for thinking chair It gives access to great scope for thought A matching cane table stands by this chair It is for all the paraphernalia I choose to utilise for observation and thinking for research recording and writing Endless cups of tea Vegemite and salad rolls Fruit nuts stacks of books Pens paper Camera iPad and phone Background noises surrounding this chair are soothing Creek water tumbling over rocks An irregular breeze wafting at leaves Morning song birdsong evensong Another nice sound I often hear from this chair is children playing Always happy to be outside In cooler months running along the bush track In summer swimming in the waterhole by the bridge or excitedly calling to each other as they splash about amongst the cascades You need to wear a brimmed hat sitting in this chair regardless of the season This is to shade your eyes from the northerly and westering sun To balance the glare against the shadows on the surface you are working on This chair has soft cushions for the seat and for the back They rest against its structure of bent cane It is a very good fit You can sit for a long time before needing to move However, the arms of this chair are narrow They may confine you to a limited range of positions This has the advantage of forcing movement This state of affairs is conducive to constructive thinking by prompting physical activity around the house along the verandah in the garden along the creek Such activity can be necessary to continue to be effective A mental activity reset New approaches come with a reset Quite often they are so new you get a pleasant surprise This is because you didn’t know they were there within you beforehand Another way to reset is change the scene move this chair to the edge of the verandah or reorientate A different outlook New space New thinking You have to remember to take the cushions in every evening to stop them getting damp They get tired and worn They are due for a new skin Just like me This chair is exposed to the elements One day it won’t be there I wonder will another chair be so generous?
I love it when you are reading a book, no matter how good it is, and you come to a blank page. This is because as you turn that empty page you are quickly one page closer to the end than you thought. One page closer to the sweet anticipation of finding and starting your next book.