I recently received an email from Amazon, informing me that, from this coming August, I would no longer be able to purchase books on the Kindle that I have been using since 2011. I had never really wanted a Kindle, preferring to have an actual book to hold in my hand, to turn the pages with my own fingers, to place a nice bookmarker between the leaves, and to place the book on the shelf of my bookcase. However, on my 60th birthday, the Kindle was kindly gifted to me by some parishioners at Mount Argus in Dublin, where I was based at the time. It was presented to me at a “surprise” 60th birthday party in what we referred to as the upper room. This was a large and beautiful room adjacent to the church, on the top floor of the old monastery that has, at various times, been the Passionist Community Chapel (the chapel in which Saint Charles of Mount Argus celebrated his final Mass before his death in 1893); and later the Chapter Room, before becoming a parish meeting room. It was a night of good food and song, and while in many ways it was my worst nightmare, being averse to big social gatherings, especially with me as the centre of attention, still it was a very humbling occasion of good will and great generosity, that I deeply appreciated.
In time, I got to appreciate the advantages of the Kindle. I could carry the Divine Office; the Daily Mass Readings; a bible; books for spiritual reading; novels for more relaxed reading, volumes by my favourite poets (George McKay Brown; R.S. Thomas; Mary Oliver & Roger McGough, to name but a few); and all kinds of other reading materials, all in this one little contraption. I could even adjust the print size to suit my poor eyesight, and so, I eventually had to eat humble pie and acknowledge how helpful the Kindle was, especially for travel. It would never replace a real book in my affections; nor would browsing their online store ever replace browsing in a book shop and perhaps sitting down with a coffee to flick through a new purchase, anticipating the joy of going home to begin reading it, and I must confess, the more I see book shops closing, the more guilty I feel about buying books online.
In anyways, from this coming August my old Kindle will have very limited use. I will still be able to read the books I have downloaded on to it, but I won’t be able to purchase anything new. Fortunately, I was kindly given a new Kindle for my 70th birthday last June. Until now, I hadn’t used it very much, but now I am paving the way for it to be my default reader. The first thing I had to do was get a smart cover for it, which I ended up having to order from Amazon. I hate ordering stuff from Amazon because they are always trying to lure you into taking a 30-day free trial for Amazon Prime before you complete the purchase, and which then evolves into a complicated process to try and cancel it. I know, because I have made this mistake before. If you have a magnifying glass, you can find a line that lets you continue the purchase without Amazon Prime, and so, I have discovered now to patiently look for that. At my first attempt I discovered I had ordered the wrong size of cover, so I entered into another process of returning the item and getting a refund; and ordering the right size. This, I have now accomplished, and my new Kindle is smaller, neater, and even easier to negotiate than the old one and, to be fair, their system of delivery was extremely efficient.
Back at the ranch, we have been hosting a priest from India in whose parish Fr John served as a deacon before ordination. On his first day he rode the Glasgow tour bus; then he went off on a 3-day bus tour of Scotland, spending 2 nights on the Isle of Skye. He thoroughly enjoyed it; got great weather, and says that there wasn’t a midge in site, or bite. How lucky can you get? He has now gone to spend a couple of days in Dublin before returning to India. Everybody else is fine. Father Antony and myself will be heading to Ireland next week, from Monday to Thursday, for meetings, and so Father John will be holding the fort all on his own.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.