Saturday starter out clear and bright that was then, by the time I reached Dundee the clouds were beginning to gather.
The rain when it came was only a shower and by then I had found a charity shop to hide away in. It was a charity shop that sold only books and very reminiscent of old books shops that were once commonplace across our towns and cities.
The town was busy, yet the shops were mostly empty, maybe people just wanted to get out of the house for a while, just because they can now. There were a small group of Green Warriors, protesting about the lack of progress on climate change, and a busker, performing at the normal venue, just outside the shopping centre, he was a young lad and actually very good.
Having just finished “Becoming Michelle Obama” a book that should be compulsory reading in our schools, I was hoping to find more of her work or that of her husband but alas not. I cannot remember ever reading a book that affected me as emotionally as this one by Michelle Obama has. All the way through I laugh with her, felt her anger and frustrations, and tear of emotion as she told me her story, warts and all.
It was clear she not only loved her husband but was in awe of him, something close to worship. Strange they hit it off really for they were chalk and cheese. She was so disciplined in her life, liked everything in order, she needed to be in control. Barack had no time for housework, the garden, cooking or cleaning, DIY or anything like that. He had a hole (a den) in every home they ever lived in, where he would go and shut himself away for hours, he would read to all hours of the morning, anything that he read would be discarded onto the floor. Papers books, newspapers, he lived in a mess, where his wife like order around her. She always insisted his Hole had a door, even to look at his mess was off-putting.
When they moved into the White House he had three military valets whose job it was to make sure his shoes were shined, his shirts pressed, his gym clothes always fresh and folded, life in the White House was very different from life in the Hole, Michelle told us.
One morning at breakfast, Barack had mirthfully told her,
“See how neat I am now, have you looked in my closet?”
“I have” she said, smiling back at him, “and you get no credit for any of it”.
I remember I heard (the late Diana, Princess of Wales) in a television interview and she said one morning she asked her husband,
“What do you think of Police?”
He replied that he thought they were a fine body of men, but of course she was talking about a pop group called Police. chalk and cheese. Then again he was from a different generation, 30 years her senior.
I loved Michell’s mother too. How she was able to guide her children as they grew up, without them being aware of it. Michelle had a great mother. I loved when she came to live in the White House, where everyone was now under strict security, but not her mother, no one was going to stop her from doing what she wanted to do. If she wanted to go out and find a group in some church basement in town well she just went. And if anyone in that group said
“You know you look just like the mother of the First Lady”, she would shrug her shoulders and say,
“I get that a lot”.
And of course before long Mrs Robinson had much of the staff eating out of her hand.
Now I am not sure whether it was her mother’s influence, or whether Michelle was just one of those people who was open, but I loved how she was able to talk about anything and everything around the dinner table, when she was growing up, nothing was taboo, even down to announcing one day.
“I had my periods”
I am now keen to read Barack’s story, the other side of the coin. Although I did not find any books by either of these authors, I did find three Lee Child books – but I had read all of them, I have read so many of his books that I have to read the first chapter when I pick one up in a charity shop now, for I have in the past brought books home only to find, when I do get around to reading them, I had in fact read them before, then again some books are worthy of a second or even third read.
The book I did bring home with me today was “The man who cycled the word” by Mark Beaumont. I’m sure when I read it he will have done years of research and training before the off. Most of my long-distance treks have been kind of spontaneous. I may read about something that catches my imagination and decide to go have a lookie see. The planning part is never too intense, then again what I found out very quickly when I started doing long distance touring was, everything you put in your saddlebag you have to carry. Little point in having a super light bike than loading it down with superfluous. A small polythene bag of washing powder is lighter, and takes up much less room, than a change of clothing, and most man-made fibre sportswear normally dries quickly enough, or at least are dry enough by morning to put back on.