Ailz is in the kitchen chopping up vegetables and listening to Miriam Margolyes read Bleak House.
We have a complete Dickens- except it isn't. I found it didn't have The Christmas Books when I was wanting to read them a year or two back and now it doesn't seem to have Bleak House either. We searched all the bookshelves for Bleak House and it just wasn't to be found. Ailz swears we had it once. Perhaps the ghost has hidden it, the way ghosts do.
Anyway, that's why she's letting Miriam Margolyes read it for her. I wander in and out of range and catch the drift- Jarndyce and Jarndyce... the waters are out in Lincolnshire...Lady Dedlock is bored...
Our complete Dickens is lamentable. The shopman wanted £80 for it and we beat him down considerably, but even so- and in spite of his sulks- we didn't get a bargain. Apart from being less complete than it pretends to be it's an edition designed more for display than reading, printed on coarse paper with a sprinkling of the original illustrations all very badly reproduced, and covers which from a distance of a hundred yards might possibly be mistaken for leather. We wanted a complete Dickens so badly we left discrimination at the shop door.
I'd like to replace it. And I know a shop in Rochester where they have any number of complete sets of Dickens for sale- as well they might, Rochester being Dicken's home town- and I want to go there and pore over them, and eventually walk out the door with two very heavily laden carrier bags, but of course bookshops are not essential shops- as defined by this government- and I can't.