It seems to me that everything now is being reduced to small details. I have been missing my newspaper. Yesterday I gave in, cancelled my digital subscription and arranged to have one delivered. This alone felt like a huge achievement. So the paper fell through the letter box today and landed on the mat with the slightest sound. It’s much thinner. Much lighter.
During my week without it, I missed the crossword. Yes, I could do it online but for me, there’s no fun in that. I like holding a pen, I enjoy the physical act of writing on paper. The faint, barely there, tentative marks when I’m not sure if I’ve found the right answer, and then the delight, if I’m right, of firmly filling in the word or words. A moment of exhilaration, a moment sometimes of laughter: solutions that are witty are moments of sheer joy. Online, when a clue is solved, it turns grey. On paper I can mark it with a triumphant tick. Small moments, but gratifying ones.
Another thing I missed about the real paper was the cutting out! Articles that impressed me, cartoons that made me laugh that I could stick on the fridge with blu tack, recipes, photographs, things to buy, brilliant book reviews to slip inside the book when I’d bought it, snip,snip snip! Scissors are so satisfying. Cutting in a straight line is satisfying! The noise of paper being cut is satisfying!
As a child, on visits to my grandmother in Wales, I eagerly anticipated the walk to the Post Office and while my grandmother collected her pension my sister and I scanned the lower shelves for the books of cut out dolls and their wonderful wardrobes of paper clothes and hats. The satisfaction of careful cutting out, the awful moment when a tab is snipped off by mistake. The search for sellotape to fix it, and the big problem of how to make the dolls stand up! We played for hours. Oh the joy of scissors and paper!
The crossword started and saved for later, I head out for my walk. A boy, maybe seven or eight, is stretched out casually like a young leopard, along the branch of a tree, idly dangling a thin rope from one hand. Another boy runs across the grass towards him. You can tell they have a plan. Now the rope is tied around a branch and the second boy tests it. It holds! I walk on, recalling swinging like that, remembering climbing like that.
The last time I walked with a friend, we met by this tree, and stood and chatted, the space between us making it look like we were in different teams. She’d wanted to borrow a book. I placed it between us and stepped back whereupon my friend moved forward to pick it up. As she moved back I reflected that all we needed were some bells and ribbons and we’d be dancing!
Just moments. They’ll do. For now anyway.