Tolkien Reading Day Report

There were some new faces, some old faces there in the Pickle Barrel Grand. But what was important was that there was a smile on every face as we commandeered a corner of the restaurant. They say that thirteen should never dine together, but no one took heed, but ate and celebrated Tolkien and his works with ferocious appetites. Hobbits, elves, nazg├╗ls or humans, everyone enjoyed the food and the delightful atmosphere.

As I sat at the table, I heard a great many “So. When did you start reading Tolkien?” Responses were varied. Some couldn’t remember when they started, but grew up reading the Lord of the Rings series. Some started later in life and fell in love then. Some couldn’t get through the books! Whatever their stories, it was a magical day.

That statement in some eyes can be seen as whimsical and terribly presumptuous, but had you been sitting where I was, listening to the various conversations around me, I believe that you too would believe this gathering magical.

Jo and Lara started off the table, which unfortunately was long and did not see to our needs very well. Having requested a round table, everyone did the best they could, either shouting down the ranks or shushing to hear. At the other end of the table, two newcomers to the gathering sat; new to the table but old hands at Tolkien, Don and Bob. They have each written for the Tolkien encyclopedia, and were happy to share the day and their love for the professor.

Talk did turn to the Professor himself, tales of how someone’s university professor was a student of a student of Tolkien, or even how someone had a professor who had been to Oxford and would see him walk his dog across campus. Envious sighs all over the table, of course.

In the middle, Oliver and Kari sat, both also new to the table, having seen the message posted on Meet-Up and wandered happily into the midst of Tolkien talk.

Unfortunately, Oliver did not stay very long but before he left, as a reading, he recited the One Ring passage in black speech, and there are people who swear that the lights flickered after he was finished.

Kari was an amazing fount of information about all things, Tolkien, Lord of the Rings and fantasy. An avid fantasy reader, she also enlightened us about C.S. Lewis and his works in amazing detail.

Kim, Jo’s daughter, sat beside me, chatting with everyone about all things Tolkien. She had thought to read a passage from The Hobbit, the funny table about the dwarves meeting Beorn two by two, but unfortunately there was no time for that. There were some amazing passages read out that day. Whether long or short, all held the magic of the works that brought us together. It seemed that no matter what passages everyone chose, they all complemented each other. Lara and Don chose to read passages from the Unfinished Tales that were close together, with vivid descriptions of Tolkien’s world. Laura, or fondly known as Frodo, chose three passages, one commemorating the Wellinghall Smial’s birthday with a description of Wellinghall. She also chose a poem with many names, read aloud by Mike and another read by Vicki.

The day was made twice as special for Kim and I. We had celebrated our birthdays the weekend before – our birthdays were a day apart – and everyone surprised us by bringing cake and cards and gifts. It was truly wonderful and extraordinary, and I would like to thank everyone for making it so.

The afternoon ended a little abruptly when the waiters at Pickle Barrel announced that they had to set up the table for the next party. By then, the group’s numbers had dwindled down, so we left to chat for a while more in the mall, but as wonderful as the day was, everyone had to go home, and reluctantly we did, though the love, laughter and words will remain until the next meeting.

Report by: Charity Y. (tenth_nazgul)


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