Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Honour system

There's an Irish pub in Louvain-la-Neuve (of course - where is there not?) and I popped in this lunchtime for a quick coffee to buck me up before spending two hours talking about Beveridge, Butler and Bevan. The decor includes bookshelves piled, higgledy=piggledy, with old books - mostly novels I've never heard of by authors whose names mean nothing to me, but also an accounts book for a business in Belfast in the 1910s, some history books, and a biography of John XXIII produced during his lifetime. The effect is rather as though someone had emptied a couple of boxes of their gran's books all in a pile. And among them was a 1938 edition of Murder in the Cathedral (first published 1935).

My late 1980s Faber paperback edition, full of marginal and interlinear notes for A-level English Literature, looks considerably tattier than this third edition hardback, so I asked at the bar: "Would you be willing to sell me one of the books?"
Reply: "They're not for sale, they're for decoration."
Question (holding up Murder in the Cathedral): "So you wouldn't be willing to let me buy this off you?"
Reply: "No, sorry. But you can borrow it if you promise to bring it back. Or another old book to take its place."

And the deal was done.


Benedictus Arbaster said...

Did you borrow it? And did you subsequently bring a replacement back with you?

Paul said...

I did indeed.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow. Irish pubs at Louvain-La Neuve. How cool! I have fond memories of that place, and I expect having found an Irish pub there would have made them even moreso. (didn't attend school there, but visited friends who did)

Thanks for reminding me of a place I was very happy. :)