Sydney bookshops were awash with copies of the Rubaiyat in the 40’s. A small book, hardcover and soft. Cheap both new and second-hand.
You’re a woman wishing to buy a gift for a man. Would you sift through the bookshop’s second-hand bin looking to buy one with an existing inscription?
What are the chances that would it would fit the relationship that exists between you and the man you are intending to give the book to?
Why not write your own?
Jessica Harkness and Alfred Boxall met in the Clifton Gardens hotel. They shared a table for two. Drinks for two. A meeting they both remembered. Then there was her gift. When Alf opened the Rubaiyat she gave him and saw the inscription there was one question Stuart Littlemore didn’t think to ask him all those years later in his filmed interview.
‘Did you ask Jessica if she wrote it?’
Alf and Jessica were never lovers, when Littlemore alluded to such a relationship Alf almost recoiled. But there was a relationship, and Verse 70 is the only clue we have as to what was its basis because years later, when interviewed again by Gerry Feltus she’d said she’d forgotten all about it.
What were Omars’ regrets?
How do they define the Tamam Shud Mystery?
Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
I swore – but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.