“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”
I bet you know where that comes from.
I bet you remember the first time you read it; maybe not the precisions of it, the exact thing you had for lunch, or what colour socks you had on, but I bet you remember that moment. I bet you remember how it felt.
For me; Leeds, and a nondescript shopping centre. WHSmith, maybe. One of the high-street stores; one of those that look like something you’ve seen a thousand times before. We were passing through. I had a book token.
(Book tokens, oh my lord book tokens, the eternal love of the bookish child)
The shelves were at the back of the shop; tucked away. I bought the first three titles in the series, titles twisting on my tongue. Familiar. Unfamiliar.
I have a habit of being late to things; I am a library lover, a librarian, I read what the library has, and sometimes some libraries are more prompt than others. I picked up His Dark Materials in Totnes, all three of them, another deal, more clean-edged spines; the crisp, indulgent pleasure of newness.
Of a book that has never been read before; a book waiting for you.
I am rereading this book now, this book that begins with a suburban couple in a suburban street, perfectly normal thank you very much, and I am thinking of those moments and the way that first read contrasts with the second. The third, fourth, fiftieth.
We read; we connect. That first read, that self-making read.
We read again; we reform, we reconnect, we rediscover. We affirm those bonds of ourselves, hard fought and hard forged.
And sometimes; we rediscover a classic. A book that aches with resonance, with sentences that sound a note something far beyond that which they sounded so many years ago.
This is rereading; this is us, this is the story of who and why we are. This is your first love, your first kiss, first loss, first – moment.
And it all comes from
this tiny, tiny thing