Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Midsummer madness

Well madness is a bit of an over statement but I find both solstices unsettling. I would for preference be no further south than here tonight, and one day I would like to spend midsummer actually within the Arctic circle. There is something about night failing to fall that has a hint of magic and mystery about it, it's not always conducive to sleep and can make quite ordinary things feel somehow illicit (I've not yet lost the 'up past your bedtime' excitement of childhood). Unfortunately the Scottish one can't take holidays until July so it's a few weeks before we'll be heading North - there'll still be a lot of light, but seeing as the weather looks so good today I can't help but wish I was there now, with the end result that I feel restless and can't settle to much.

This has certainly effected my reading, I have finally started another book but wasted the weekend and more in dithering about over what to read next (all these books and not a thing to read, not even the new books were enough to tempt me). Not being in the middle of a book is another thing that makes me feel unsettled (like going out before you realise some vital piece of clothing is missing) and by Monday night I was slightly frantic about it until a chance reference to Beauty and the Beast made me pull Grimm's fairy tales of the shelf. Beauty and the Beast is a favourite fairy tale, and not incidentally one of the Grimm brothers oeuvre, but there was enough in there to find something to match my mood.

My copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales is the Vintage edition that came out a few years ago as part of their doubles series and it reminded me of what a great idea that was. Essentially two books for the price of one; something classic was paired with something contemporary (ish) Grimm came with Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' which on reflection would have been another good choice. June with it's long hours of twilight, lush, abundant growth in any space a plant can get a hold in, and heady scents, is an easy time to believe and imagine things. Sitting in a city lit by street lights and office windows imps are as unlikely as owls, but out in the country where the undergrowth is alive with movement - well anything might be in there...


  1. I'm dipping in and out of the Grimms at the moment too (though a different edition, the OUP one, I wonder how different they really are). I'm surprised at little details in the well-known stories I had forgotten, and intrigued by some of the lesser-known ones.

    My whole fairytale reading plans are in hopeless disarray; there are books I read months ago which I've never written about. I love what you write about June as a time for the imagination.

  2. Write about the fairy tales! I love the long hours of daylight/twilight at this time of year, although today we had a positively apocalyptic thunder storm. I have never seen rain like it (it even made the news) just a solid wall of water - which has also put me in the mood for fairy tales.