‘I can’t find the Oxford Book of English Verse,’ the Resident IT Consultant said one evening.
‘Well, I don’t know. It must be there, somewhere,’ I replied.
We searched. ‘Could it be we don’t actually have a copy?’ he asked.
While we do seem to own a fair few copies of these large, worthy, Oxfordy type tomes, I concluded this was a possible explanation.
Because it wasn’t upstairs with the other poetry. And not downstairs with the large books.
‘What did you want it for?’ I thought to ask.
‘I wanted to read Paradise Lost,’ the Resident IT Consultant said. ‘I suppose it’s lost, heh heh.’
‘The first two.’
‘Well, I have those. It was set reading at university. I don’t remember culling my copy, so it’s probably still here. Upstairs with the rest of the poetry.’
Turned out I was right. It was. And Bookwitch had saved the evening. She, who doesn’t do verse much.
I guessed the whole thing was set off by letting the Resident IT Consultant read The Secret Commonwealth when I was away for a few days. And he got to watch the first episode of His Dark Materials on television, also without me. Goes without saying that Paradise Lost is his next port of call.
Whereas when I got to the Smyrna bit in Philip Pullman’s second Book of Dust, I couldn’t help thinking of Giles Milton’s Paradise Lost…