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Friday, May 18, 2012

The Book Of Knowledge I


When I was a nipper these books were the Google of the day. Want to know something? Look it up in..The Book Of Knowledge. Like many people of their generation, my parents bought this modestly priced encyclopedia as a way of bolstering what little was generally available about the world around them. It would also help you to know answers to questions like...

How is soap made?

What metal do dentists use for filling teeth?

How do ants communicate?

Who first thought of the atom?

and so on.

I recall long winter evenings spent leafing through these pages. I wasn't soaking up the knowledge but just looking at the pictures. After my mother died and we were clearing out her house I came upon the set. I was surprised she hadn't got rid of them ages ago as she was always short of shelf space.

I had a choice to throw them away or keep them. Some dim memory demanded I take the books home and save them from the skip.

Since 2006 they've languished in a bag and eventually on a shelf in the hall. I've not looked at them in all that time. Today en route to the bathroom I stopped and took the first volume off the shelf. As I began leafing through the first volume I was assailed by the same smell wafting up from the pages that I first encountered as a child. It was amazingly pungent and vivid.

That's one thing you don't get from Google.

4 comments:

Tim Sokell said...

Lovely memory Sid. We have a bureau that belonged to my grandparents and then my parents. Because they were all smokers, when you open up the lid there is a smell which, although not totally pleasant, sends me straight back to childhood days, and lovely memories of using the desk to draw pictures and write stories.

Sid Smith said...

It's strange how much time I spent leafing through these books as a young kid because when I look at them now, the pictures in them aren't really that appealing; I can't see what it was that attracted me so much to these rather antiquated pages. My father's copies of National Geographic mags on the other hand were like cinemascope! Now I really wish I had those.

Andy Mcduffie said...

I recall my parents bought a bound partwork (in a junkshop!)called the "Book of Life". I now realise that this was an attempt on their part to avoid the awkward "birds & bees" chat. Still, these puffy white vinyl binders were full of extraordinary '70s graphics and articles on a range of topics: Jungian psychology, SF movies and, yes...sex! I loved them and wished I had them to leaf through today. Yer lucky to have yours, Sid!

Sid Smith said...

Hi Andy, thanks for dropping in. The multi-part thing my folks bought in the late 60s was called Mind Alive. That pretty much replaced the tomes of mock leather pictured above. Lots of colour pics and a more, shall we say, diverse subject matter! A few years ago my mother did ask me if I wanted them and I said no at the time. Wished I had them now! #blogfodder!

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