Day 49: Girl After My Own Heart

Jan Morris, from In My Mind's Eye, which she calls a "thought diary":

Day 74

Scraped, torn and shabby inside the door of my car are two paperback volumes of Michel de Montaigne’s collected essays. They live there permanently, and I love them. I have them at home in two much better hardback editions, but these old friends, shoved rudely but conveniently beside my driving seat, are dearer to me.

This is because to my mind they are the very best antidote to boredom. I do not read them, of course, while I am driving, but the moment I am held up, because of roadworks or traffic lights, because I am waiting to meet somebody’s train or because I’ve dropped Elizabeth off at the hairdressers, the moment I switch my engine off—ha!—I scrabble happily for my Montaigne. The two old volumes, which I have had almost as long as the car itself, were one volume once, but I tore it into two halves to get them into the door pocket, and since they are a very tight fit still, poor things, they have a sort of brave, uncomplaining look to them that I find extra endearing.

Of course, they might be made for dipping into. Was there ever another writer anywhere more instantly readable and friendly? What do I feel like reading about while I wait? Liars? Idleness? Pedantry? The Power of the Imagination? The Custom of Wearing Clothes? Names? War Horses? The Education of Children? Anger? Cowardice? The Disadvantage of Greatness?

All these, and a hundred more, are waiting there for my contemplation, but better still, Michel is waiting there too, and there was never a kinder, cleverer and more beguiling companion to share ideas with, while the old Honda gratefully takes a breather.