My Raymond used to get the Reader’s Digest. He had it delivered every month. Without fail. If you have never seen it, the Reader’s Digest is a monthly paperback book style magazine, which “digests” articles from other magazines and journals and converts them into a simpler easier to read format, with nice photographs and illustrations. The sad thing is that it reads like an edition of “the Watchtower” or “Awake”
Raymond was in the Reader’s Digest World Record Club an’all which is how the house got filled with boxed sets of LP records called things like “Magical Worlds of Melody” “Hugo Montenegro Plays” and “The Immortal Jim Reeves” (which was ironically released almost a decade after Jim slammed his aeroplane into the ground and died of a broken ruddy neck.)
He also filled the house with Reader’s Digest “condensed books”, which were books that people might have fancied but didn’t have time to read, that had been condensed until all the joy had been edited out of them. They were packed four to a volume, and looked nice on your bookshelf, because they were bound in that vinyl made to look like old bookbinding leather, like those boxes you used to be able to get to put your videos in when they first came out. (We had a ruddy shelf load of those an’all at one point – I threw the sodding things out after he died.)
He also had a fair few of their more lavish volumes; “The Reader’s Digest Atlas of the World,” “The Reader’s Digest Road Map of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” “The Reader’s Digest 100 Great British Countryside Walks,” “The Reader’s Digest Guide to Victorian Sexual Etiquette,” “The Reader’s Digest Wonders of the Undersea Realm.” In fact he used to buy all sorts of stuff off them. He was such a good customer that they used to send him little presents like plastic pens done up to look like they were made of metal, or pre-aged vintage style maps of the world. And when they had a prize draw, they always sent him a few extra tickets. They must have really loved him.
But it was the monthly paperback style magazine that fascinated me. It started with a quiz “It Pays to Increase your Word Power” and finished with a really seriously condensed book. And in between the articles had fantastic titles like “The Day I Had The Miracle of Sight Restored,” “I am John’s Kidney,” “Across the Arctic in a Hot Air Balloon,” “Fistulas at the Back End – What Every Self Respecting Person Should Know” or “I Heard Them Pronounce Me Dead – And There Was Nothing I Could Do!” There were also little collections of light hearted stories and jokes; “Laughter… The Best Medicine,””Humour in Uniform,” “Life’s Like That.” It was a pleasant enough way of spending half an hour if you had already read that week’s “People’s Friend” and any stuff the Jehovah’s Witnesses had brought around.
Any road, over the next couple of weeks I would like to share “Doris’s Digest” with you. Together we can enjoy some short items and articles in the style of My Raymond’s favourite reading matter. You never know… You might learn something.