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The Scrivener: Gone Before

Brian Barratt engages our attention with accounts of a book and a tomato which performed disappearing acts.

Umpteen years ago, I lost my copy of an excellent book about the diaspora, mainly of the Roma (my distant ancestors) and the Jewish peoples, in my well stocked library. I looked in all the places where it should have been or might have been or even should not have been. No luck. So I interrogated my grey cells and extracted the information that I had once lent it to a young Jewish friend, a very bright lad. I phoned him. No, he didn't have it. Nor did his brother, who was my protégé (intellectually, not financially!) at the time. That book had gone on its own diasapora.

Now something else has disappeared. Nothing dramatic, nor even literary. Simply a lovely little Amoroso tomato. I love 'em. One of them inadvertently fell to the kitchen floor. I didn't see where it rolled to but I could hear the bop-bop-bop as it wended its way across the floor. So I switched on the main light, and also used my torch, which is very bright, and hunted in all corners. No sign of the tomato.

My knees being past their use-by date, I could not get down onto the floor and peer beneath cupboards or into other darkling cobwebbed crannies. That problem was solved yesterday when my monthly cleaner came. He is young and agile, with flexible legs. Well, he crawled round on his hands and knees, and he could not find that tomato either. Perhaps it will take root in the thick bed of dust and gunk in some inaccessible corner and one day I shall see fresh green leaves sprouting forth.

A piece of toast has been behind my gas stove for years and years, too. I'd inadvertently invested in a Black & Decker toaster, not realising how powerful it was. Powerful in the spring department, that is. When slices were nicely browned, it ejected them with great force all over the kitchen. And it launched one high in the air and down the back of the stove. There is no way I was going to attempt to disconnect and shift that stove for the sake of one piece of toast. So I left it where it was. It's been there for about 30 years. I chucked out the Black & Decker and bought a more well-behaved toaster, by the way.

Ah, yes, the book about the diaspora. It reappeared. In a rare episode of tidying up my study, I pulled a small cupboard out from underneath one of the three desks. And there was the missing book, covered with dust and cobwebs. It had evidently slid off the top of the wee cupboard and down the back all those years ago. Oh joy, it was like meeting up with an old friend after a long separation. But I don't think I'll feel like that if and when I meet up with the Amoroso tomato which once I loved and since have lost awhile.

© Copyright Brian Barratt 2013


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