Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Each time I meet a new client at The Well, where I volunteer, I ask,  "What do you like to read?"  Today, a young man was there with his mother and he answered, "Have you ever heard of  Wilkie Collins?"  I answered, "Oh, yes, of course, The Moonstone, and The Woman In White, but I don't have anything by him here, but I do have some by his great friend Dickens."  

The man answered, "It's amazing you know that;  Collins was known as the Dickensian ampersand."

Now, tell me, WHO would not be impressed with THATknowledge?   I did NOT know that, but I was taken aback that he would automatically assume that one would not know that Collins and Dickens were friends.  I asked, "Why would you think that one wouldn't know that Dickens and Collins were friends?"  He answered, "Most people would not know that."  I said, "Dickens was an admirer of Collins' father, the landscape artist William Collins." He answered, "And most people would not know THAT!"

We compared other knowledge about Collins and I asked, "Did you know that Matthew Broderick and his wife named their son after Wilkie?" He laughed loudly at that trivial tidbit and I joined in with him, laughing at myself.  I said, "I'm embarrassed I know THAT!"

Later, another person who is also a volunteer, had overheard the conversation and asked, "You probably don't get that many serious readers, do you?"

I answered, "Oh, I have quite a number of serious readers." The colleague asked, "What was that word he used?"  I asked, "You mean ampersand?  THAT does make it all worthwhile!"

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