A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Someone jolted my elbow as I drank and said, "Je vous demande pardon," and as I moved to give him space he turned and stared at me and I at him, and I realized, with a strange sense of shock and fear and nausea all combined, that his face and voice were known to me too well.

I was looking at myself.

The Scapegoat, 1956, Daphne Du Maurier

Every once in a while my writer friend Sean Rossiter, left, calls me up to meet him with some friends for lunch downtown. He usually invites a writer from the Vancouver Sun, Nick Rebalksi, an architect, Alan James and some surprise guest. The connection here is that somehow this trio lived in the same neighbourhood and have an interest in golf, hockey and English cars. I like going because this is the closest to the Spanish concept of a tertulia where friends meet at a cafe to discuss politics, football (soccer) and life.

It was at one of the restaurants where I met up with Rossiter some years ago that I noticed on a wall of decorative Book-of-the-Month Club books, Daphne Du Maurier's The Scapegoat. I had a cheesy (the cover) pocket book version of this terrific book at home. I read it once a year in conjunction with Du Maurier's House on the Strand. And only a week ago I was finally able to see the noir/gothic film version of The Scapegoat on the Turner Classic Movies channel. Consider that this film has Alec Guiness and Bette Davis. Until recently this film was out of print.

When I saw that pristine but worthless (all BOTMC books are worthless) The Scapegoat I longed to liberate it from the tragic oblivion of, perhaps, never having been read. Books have to be read and should never be used for purely decorative reasons. I wrestled in my mind trying to rationalize my potential petty theft. In the end I liberated it and took it home, warmly held under my arm. The cheesy pocketbook version I gave to my daughter Ale and my worthless edition is proudly displayed in my living room library.

A week ago when Rosemary and I went to see The Producers I ran into author/actor C.C. Humphreys who excitedly told me, "After your recommendation I found a cheap pocket book version, with a chessy cover of The Scapegoat at a used book bin. It is terrific."

Could it be that one wrong makes a few rights?


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