Wednesday, 11 February 2009

King Arthur, I just can't let you go

Mr Coffee and I used to be very precious about books. When we left our parents' town in 1996, we hired a van and packed it practically solely with books and black socks.

(Mr Coffee came into my life with a hell of a lot of black socks. There were a lot of socks in the flat we shared to start with; on dropping by his mother's house to say goodbye, she presented him with another bin-bag full that he had never taken with him.)

But after a while it became obvious that this book-collecting couldn't continue. A drama graduate and an English graduate, both working in literature, meant a house so stuffed full of books that we could hardly fit the children in it.

I now sell some of my pre-read books on Greenmetropolis, a second-hand book recycling site. This week, however, I hit a stumbling block. Someone wanted to buy my copy of Malory's Works, the collection of stories of Arthurian legend.

It's a huge book. It's written in Middle English. ("And than he gaff hym suche a buffette uppon the helme that he felle on his kneis, and so suddeynly Bewmaynes pulde hym on the grounde grovelynge." And on and on in this vein for over 700 pages.) The spine has yellowed. I studied it in my first year at university, which is mumble mumble years ago now.

And seeing it again, and thinking of parting with it, brought back a love of Arthurian legends which has lasted all those mumble mumble years. I love the legends, their magical possibility, the codes of honour, the powerful madwomen in the woods.

I even loved the sex scene in 1981's Excalibur, where Uther Pendragon clanked back and forth in full armour.

I love the fact that I can sit down with my children on Saturday nights and watch some extremely pretty young men mess about with the legends completely in Merlin.

(If I fancied it, I could be pedantic about how much they have mangled the story. Of course Merlin and Arthur weren't the same age. Of course Uther Pendragon wasn't a former librarian.)

So I'm very sorry, poor book-buyer, but this one is no longer for sale. I feel a need to prove to myself I can read Middle English again.

I feel a need to get lost in the woods.


  1. Excalibur is an acers film.

    The sex scenes were tastefully and artistically realised. I really, really believe that.

  2. I'm sure that if you're willing to do a bit of grovelynge the almost-buyer will understand.

  3. I've just been to look at your books for sale. You really weren't joking about how many you have, were you?!

  4. I think I am going to swoon with joy - I have just seen a glimpse of the future - clue: you may see the Military History category of Greenmetropolis explode due to a sudden influx of listings.


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