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.