- briallenhopper posted this
Apparently something that happens on this blog now is that I post beautiful nostalgic things to read. This Mrs. Miniver post is a footnote to my paper diary fetish previously described. The whole book is linked above; scroll down to read a small scrap from “The New Engagement Book,” or just give yourself over to the charms of embattled Englishness and read it all.
An engagement book is the most important of all those small adjuncts to life, that tribe of humble familiars which jog along beside one from year’s end to year’s end, apparently trivial, but momentous by reason of their terrible intimacy. A sponge, a comb, a tooth-brush, a spectacle-case, a fountain-pen — these are the things which need to be chosen with care. They become, in time, so much a part of one that they can scarcely be classed as inanimate. Insensitive, certainly — but so are one’s nails and hair. And although some of them can be given away if one takes a dislike to them, with others the only remedy is destruction; and there is no case on record of anybody, however rich, being strong-minded enough to throw an almost new sponge into the fire. Meekly, one puts up with its inconvenient shape, its repulsive texture, and the cretinous face which is discernible among its contours when it is lightly squeezed. Eventually, thank goodness, it will wear out; or with any luck one may leave it behind in an hotel.
But an engagement book, once used, is a far worse problem. To give it away is impossible, to lose it is disastrous, and to scrap it and start a new one entails a laborious copying out of all the entries that have already been made. Unless, of course, one is prepared to leave the first part of the new book blank and risk giving one’s biographers — if any — the impression that one has suffered from a prolonged attack of leprosy. Or worse.