When, a few years ago I started out on some renovation projects my first purchase - after the skip hire but before the wallpaper scraper - was a radio. It followed me round one flat and two houses becoming progressively more speckled with dabs of plaster and paint - an essential bit of kit. Woe betide anyone who turned the dial from Radio 4.....
I'd switch it on as I walked through the door and turn it off when I left. In between times I'd listen - and listen with the greatest pleasure to plays and stories. A virgin wall, a can of paint and a brush in the silence of an empty house, hanging onto a ladder with one hand but onto every word with my ears. Not going home until the story had ended, dragging out those brushfulls' of paint. Bliss. How I love to be read to.
I can't remember if I was read to as a child. Perhaps I was, that is surely something my father would have done. Miss Charles would read to us at school - I've a vague memory of Pilgrim's Progress - though suspect it was a special 'primary school edition' - it's hard to imagine it being the reading matter of choice for a coutry school in 1950s Warwickshire.. A play on the car radio can be a blessing to while away the miles. Who hasn't sat, late for a meeting, listening to the last few moments of some drama or other?
A short while ago the Glam Ass bought me an iTouch. Perfect. From the moment I fired it up and slid my finger across its seductive screen I was hooked - this sleek little gadget could be the repository of my secret world. What's there not to like? It stores pictures, notes, apps, music, movies and accesses the t'interweb. Download and store books too. Not just books to read - although that is possible - but books to listen to. What a good idea.
I now subscribe to audible, where for £7.99 per month I get a 'credit' which gets me a book. So far it's been fine and value for money. I download my book, sync the iTouch, put in the 'phones and listen away. There are other, free sources out there in the vastness of the www which I have not as yet explored. I have a feeling though that, if not audio books, then books for a 'reader' are the way that things are heading. Did I hear somewhere that Amazon's download sales for its 'Kindle' outsold traditional book sales recently?
Anyway - my book of the moment is Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help'. Nearly two-thirds of the way through now and I am hooked. Three voices for the three main characters narrate their stories. I am in the white/black world of Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s - not a good place for everyone - and I hear every word of a good and thought provoking story. This is gripping storytelling too - I am tempted nightly to listen just a little bit longer - I really care about what will happen next. (I do so hope Miss Hilly eventually gets her comeuppance....)
But what do I want to do? I want to flip the page to see how a name is spelled, check on something quickly, perhaps even flick forwards for a taste of what's to come - and that is not so easy without a visual reference. This is my only caveat. Perhaps I shall have to buy a real copy after all - it wouldn't be the first time.