The Number 1 Literary Law

Forgive me, Book God, for I have committed the literary lover’s cardinal sin: I left home this morning without a book.

Yes, yes, I know that I should have known better. I know that there is no excuse, no occasion, no circumstance under which it could be deemed acceptable to be so shamefully unequipped as a self-proclaimed bookworm. But it happened and I’m sorry and I can honestly say that I have been thoroughly and completely punished.

Today began just like any other Wednesday. I awake at 8am, check my emails, breakfast, watch a little TV and finally dress for work. Before stepping out the door, I check my handbag to ensure I have the necessary phone, wallet and bottle of water. The Nanny Diaries lies on my bedside table. I look at it. Do I take it, do I leave it? I’m going straight to work and straight home afterwards without a lunch break in between so… my ride to work arrives and I’m out the door. The Nanny Diaries lies dejectedly on my table and the literary stars align to serve up one steaming platter of retribution…

I’m not exactly sure what they say about making assumptions but I think it’s along the lines of: DON’T DO IT. Nevertheless, I make my day’s plans assuming that I’ll be catching a ride home with one of the girls I work with. Two o’clock arrives and suddenly I’m smacked in the face by the realization that she’s working until closing time while I’m rostered to finish at four. Oh no. Oh no, no, no. I call Dad and beg to be picked up but I’m unpleasantly informed that I will have to wait at the tennis courts until six, when my brother finishes training. That is two hours. Two whole hours at a sporting ground (to which I’m quite obviously allergic)…without a book.

Two long and painful and boring and cold and hungry and lonely hours. I twiddle my thumbs, I pull at the frayed bits of my jumper, I tap my leg, I sigh and I wait. I pine for my divine little paperback world of entertainment that I so callously brushed aside this morning. I dream of its warm, dry pages and the hours of blissful distraction it could provide from the unpleasantries of sport. Fact of life: two bookless hours of boredom equate to approximately seven years of regular time.

On the one day of the year that I leave home without a book safely stored in my bag, I am struck by the unbelievably bad luck of having to waste time in a sporting ground on a cold, winter evening. Is this, or is this not a very pointed message from the literary gods?

The Number 1 Literary Law: Never, under any circumstance, leave home without a book.