Life changing stuff in the Three Goats Heads
In the Three Goats Heads
Originally uploaded by joellaflickr.
You know you're pretty much on top of things, in the immediate 'festive' sense at least, when the only things left on your shopping list on the Saturday before Christmas are firewood, meths, horseradish root, coffee beans, and something for yourself, love.
We scored the firewood at the garden centre, as the sawmill is already closed for the duration. We couldn't decide between hardwood, softwood and not wood (some kind of ashless, smokeless reconstituted log-style composite) so we got a bag of each. We scored the meths at Silvesters on Magdalen Rd -- one of those family hardware businesses that defies the 21st century in the best possible way. They sell pretty much everything that a 1970s home could possibly need. Cleat hooks: check. Fridge bulbs: check. Winter pansies: check. And best, and rarest, of all, they give advice. So thus it was I emerged blinking into the wintry sunlight bearing the last axe they had in stock in one hand and a bottle of meths in the other. If my mother could have seen me, how proud she would have been.
After a quick break for vegetable samosas and the Guardian, it was time to brave the city centre. We had a nice pint with some programmers in the Kings Arms and then ventured into the Covered Market for the final food items. We are now catered up for the 25th (cheese fondue, hence meths, in case anyone was seriously worried), 26th (party going on, Jewish food and secular drink, come round if you want) and 27th (stepchildren), barring a few last minute things that can be sourced from the kind of shops that don't close for Christmas. M had a couple of presents still to buy, so we headed for a big fat bookshop.
Where, following tradition, we each bought ourselves a Christmas present. I bought myself the new 30th anniversary edition of The Women's Room. I didn't know it was out, and I was looking for my original (well, 1986) copy just yesterday, following a Solstice Dinner conversation with housemate C where we agreed that we would swap radical feminist fiction in the New Year. I couldn't believe she hadn't read The Women's Room. I mean, most people haven't, I just couldn't believe *she* hadn't.
My copy is kind of embarrassing, it falls open at particularly strident passages and about half of it is underlined. But worse, it seems I don't even know where it is, so I bought another one.
And it was the right decision: I haven't started the novel proper yet, but we repaired from the bookshop to the Three Goats Heads where I read the 2006 introduction by the author. She says:
"When I was asked, in 1977, what I would wish for the Women's Room, I wished for a world in which no one comprehended it because men and women had found a way to live together in felicity. Unfortunately, despite many easements on female life in the west, the world's ethos has moved in the opposite direction, towards more hostility between the sexes."Can't say unfairer than that. And I also thought I should pay for a copy, seeing as I stole my first one from a second hand book fair my dad took me to. I'd run out of money and I saw this book that said on the cover 'this novel will change your life'. I could use a bit of that, I thought, so I nicked it. And it did.
M's Christmas present to himself, incidentally, was also a reissue -- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with Mervyn Peake's illustrations: "meticulously reproduced, for the first time, as they were meant to be seen... the first edition to do justice to two great English eccentrics."
I'm not sure I agree that the past didn't go anywhere.