Way, way back in the Middle Ages, before marriage, children and all that, I was an au pair. I know what you are thinking, but as you can see from the pic in my profile, as well as not being Swedish, I am definitely not blonde. I lived for a while in Geneva, Switzerland with an Indian Muslim family but that, as they say, is another story. What I am getting around to telling you is that when you are away from home and homeland, you pine for certain things. I’m a lover, not hater of Marmite, so that was near the top of the list. Strange though it may seem, living in the land of cuckoo clocks, cheese and creamy Swiss chocolat, I missed a nice strong Cheddar cheese and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate, oh yes, and English books.
If you can remember back to the beginning of my ramblings you will have noted that I lived in Geneva. It was really quite difficult to find a genuine Swiss person where I lived close the UN, the ILO, GATT and all those other acronyms. Diplomats from around the globe huddled together in international enclaves and the working people of Geneva provided this elite with their every need. A brief stroll away there was a tabac that did a roaring trade in The Daily Telegraph, International Herald Tribune and ENGLISH BOOKS!!!!
Bear in mind that this was the mid to late 70s and Mr Waterstone probably hadn’t even been born, or was still in short trousers, so there wasn’t a three-for-two deal to be seen or the delight of a rummage in a Book Barn. Instead there was one tall twirly rack outside the tabac so my selection of English reading was predetermined. On one occasion my withdrawal systems were so severe that I decided to part with a large proportion of my miserable monthly francs. Foreign books in the town with the second highest cost of living in the world didn’t come cheap but sometimes a biblioholic has to buy what a biblioholic has to buy. An orange spine and the penguin seal of approval suggested a reasonably safe choice so I skipped home with MY NAME IS ASHER LEV by Chaim Potok. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. As I said, “some of my best
friends books are Jewish”.