A member of the ABC Book Club on Facebook recently asked, What do you use for bookmarks? So I rifled through the bookshelf and posted a photo of my motley collection: tickets, postcards, photographs, ribbons, receipts, newspaper clippings, notes, a letter, a leaf, and an assortment of proper bookmarks.

Browsing the ephemera of my bookmarks rekindled fond memories of past travel and adventures. There were boarding passes, train tickets, and a bus ticket to Glastonbury from my backpacking days. Anne Frank’s Diary contained a fold-out guide to Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. And in a travel guide, a receipt for tent pegs from a camping shop in Bulawayo.

My back-in-Australia bookmarks included a receipt for the Kakadu Yellow Water boat cruise, a business card from Lady Elliot Island resort, a lift pass from Mount Selwyn snowfields, and an SCG ticket from 1996 for Australia versus West Indies. And there were tickets to the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Paralympics.

Newspaper Clippings and Personal Memories

Among the bookmarks were also newspaper clippings. Inside Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was an obituary for Allen Ginsburg. Remembering Babylon had a piece on David Malouf winning the then-largest literary prize in the world, the International Dublin Literary Award. And Cloudstreet had an article from May 1992 on Tim Winton and his second Miles Franklin Award.

There were more personal memories, too, like birthday cards and envelopes, notes to and from my son (“Stop chewing your pens!” and “Sorry for losing my temper, Dad.”). And a letter from my Nan. I posted in Alice Nannup and my Nan (July 2020) how my Nan wrote to me in England in 1992, responding to questions I’d asked her about details from Alice Nannup’s memoir. It was wonderful to unearth my Nan’s old letter and see her beautiful handwriting again.

Letter from my Nan (1992)

Proper Bookmarks

I did find proper bookmarks, many of which are also associated with fond memories. One is from the American Book Centre in Holland. A friend worked in one of their bookstores, and I used to visit him regularly when I lived just across the North Sea in England. Another bookmark features Indigenous art from the 2017 Songlines exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. It’s a reminder of what is likely to be the last sightseeing trip to Canberra with my now adult son. And then there are the art-and-craft bookmarks my son made when he was a young boy.

Oh, and have I mentioned the gum leaf? Goodness knows where I found it, but well dried the leaf’s a perfect bookmark for a nature book!

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Favourite Bookmark?

Do I have a favourite bookmark? No, not really. But I am fond of my “motley collection” and the memories they trigger, especially of times with my son. And I keep them all in a safe and fitting place, in books.

Which reminds me of another question posed in the ABC Book Club on Facebook, What kind of bookmarker are you? I was pleased to note I fell into the “good” category of reader with my use of ephemera and proper bookmarks.

As for the “evil” bookmarkers, readers who dog-ear books, I’ll leave that for someone else to blog about!

© 2020 Robert Fairhead

N.B. You might also like to read another blog post about Tim Winton and Cloudstreet where I quote the 1992 newspaper clipping, Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

Note: This post originally appeared on the Tall And True writers’ website.


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About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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