Recently, in a vain attempt to de-clutter, I spent an hour or so sorting through my book collection deciding what would be kept and what should be given to the local charity shop.
Having packed those volumes destined for donation in a flimsy carrier bag, I walked the half-mile or so from my house into town in order to enjoy the late summer sunshine as well as to carry out my chore.
The inevitable, of course, happened: half way there, while I was struggling up a hill, the plastic bag ruptured, spilling books all over the pavement.
Cursing, I stooped to collect them and as I did so my eye was caught by a dog-eared copy of Gaston Bachelard's Psychoanalysis Of Fire -a relic of my student days.
It had fallen open on the chapter entitled 'Sexualised Fire' and in the margins were pencil notes made, during a lecture I suppose, by an old girlfriend of mine with whom I had long lost contact.
Until that moment I had forgotten how beautiful her handwriting was with its shapely serifs, its open and loosely spiralling descenders and its yielding and softly-voluptuous vowels.
I liked to think that somewhere today her writing, characteristically reclined in attitude, would be looping lazily across a sheet of creamy notepaper, or perhaps lending urbanity, grace and sensuality to even the most ordinary of things - a shopping note, a tax form, a letter to her children's school...
I closed the book and slid it carefully into my breast pocket.
swifts through a