Monday, June 27

Old is for Whoever Remembers

Today has been quite emotional.  Borders bookstore will be gone forever in the next few days, this afternoon, my dad and I visited it for the last time.  Today we said goodbye to something that has been very important to us.  The times that I have spent in that bookstore have been many, but all meaningful, and with its sinking to the past, it seems that these memories are the only things to float to the surface.
I remember my dad and I sitting behind Gloria Jeans in the deep, black armchairs with two books we had grabbed from the shelves and two cups of chai tea.  We were so absorbed that we sat and read in silence for hours.  I remember that when he had gone to buy the chai tea, I had been leafing through a humungous book of dog photography, and there had been so many pictures that made me laugh that I had used up all my fingers on both hands to mark the pages I wanted to show him when he came back. 
I remember when I came in with my dad one time and I was so utterly absorbed in the task of finding a copy of Peter Pan.  I had just read a library copy, you see, and I had delighted in it so much that I felt feverish with the need to own it.  I searched every shelf high and low until I found a single copy hunched lonesomely at the bottom.  But it had a large and painful tear in the cover and I was so disappointed until I turned over Pollyanna Grows Up and found another copy in perfect health.  It was a grand triumphant moment that I never forgot.
I remember when I came in alone, after several hours of solo shopping.  I was in a whirlwind of independence and cheerfulness, and I blew a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes up with me in my whirlwind, (I had been reading it at home at the time), and ordered myself a slice of chocolate cake.  I read and ate at the same time.  I am a chocolate cake lover, but it was nearly too much for me!  It was chocolate mud with a munificent centimetre thick blanket of milk chocolate over the top and a snowball of hard white cream as a garnish.  It was furiously decadent and glorious, and I kept the plastic spoon as a souvenir.  It remains still in my mug of pens and pencils on my desk.
I remember when my whole family came in together on my birthday.  We had an iced cookies and cream drink which was like crumbs in ice and not hugely appealing, and then we ran free in search of books.  I ended up, after much deliberation, buying a copy of The Beautiful and Damned for way more than it was worth.  But it was a gorgeous copy, hardcovered and dustjacketed, and was the unassuming beginning of my long romance with F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Like the placing of my white gloved hand in his at a masquerade ball. 
Today, Dad and I came in and we walked down every aisle arm in arm like lovers.  We sighed deep like trees and talked sadly but yet happily over hot chocolate and English breakfast tea.  When I discovered that I had not been given marshmallows after all, he asked for some, and the barrister popped them in happily for me.  Then it was just that bit too sweet.  But however overwhelmed by sugar I was, the moment was deeply disturbing.  It was a funeral and the shoppers were the relatives coming to collect whatever had been left them in the will. 
This occasion has marked a very significant epoch in time.  We can remain optimistic, of course, but the truth of the matter is that technology really has officially begun the slow and tenacious uprooting of the tradition of books.  Borders lives on, but only in the spirit.  It is now online.  Books on electronic readers, iPads, laptops whatever else.  I have always always been in love with the idea of books.  But it seems that the idea of books is not one that will continue for much longer.  It's shape has changed.  The idea of books is eventually going to be an antiquity.  I wish Kathleen Kelly was real, and that she and I could sit and have a bit of a cry.  I feel that a very personal bookstore is needed.  Somewhere that is a safe place.  Somewhere where you cannot find new books, but rather everything you remember affectionately from your childhood, or your parents or grandparents enthused about.  Things you love fondly from back then.  New is forever.  Old is for whoever remembers..

Sunday, June 26

Tolkien Gets Personal

Well, I'm a bit disappointed to have to draw a close to the Open Sesame Challenge, but nobody has added anything, so perhaps it's time to get onto the voting. Which of the three entries do you think is the most interesting opening to a book? Make sure you read all three, and vote on the poll. You can find links to the entries and the poll on the right hand side of the screen. Please do.

My dad and I have made fantastic progress on The Lord of the Rings today. We spent hours reading this morning and even after lunch, and managed to nibble steadily into the final chapters. Three left to go! But there is something I've noticed in it, that I can't explain all to clearly but has given me such a warm and homey affections for the book that it just cannot go unmentioned. I wholeheartedly adore the love and totally real relationships that connect all the characters. It has popped up and out like the most flamboyant of pop-up books in the last couple of chapters. The One Ring has been destroyed and everyone has been reunited, and the things they say and give to each other is so gorgeous. It is terribly cute. It is healthy and ruddy and fresh and beautiful. And it makes me sigh and smile longingly at how healthy it all is. It's not something that I can point to, or read you - it's just the whole. It's unlike everything else. J. R. R. Tolkien just really understood something very important about relationships and it is beautiful to read.  It is very personal. 

Sadly, Frankenstein is becoming increasingly disappointing.  It's a clever concept, but the execution of it as a whole is so slow that it has failed to keep taut any thread of suspense for me whatsoever.  It might just get better - I don't know - but I don't have much left to read now.  I might get it finished tomorrow morning, if I read in bed for a hour or so.  I'm sorry I haven't had much to share from it.  It hasn't been terribly quotable.   

Ah well, The Lord of the Rings has been plenty sustainance for me these last few days.  I am going to be such a mess when we finally finish it.  Would you believe if I told you we'd been reading it since this time last year?  I have formed very strong relationships with every single character, Sam especially, and I have laughed out loud and cried painfully with them.  I will probably have to hold a funeral.  Wow.  OK.  I'm going to start crying prematurely if I dwell on this too much longer. 

Saturday, June 25

My Quest to Mount Doom

I have been reading The Lord of the Rings to my dad again these holidays, and we are finally onto the last stretch - the final stages of Frodo and Sam's journey to Mount Doom.  I have enjoyed reading it so much, today, and time and time again I have been surprised and delighted by his cunningly selected words and images.  Paragraphs and pages worth of writing have burst out in my face with so much thrill and fullness.  I have been completely absorbed, and partaking eagerly of every second of my asborbtion.  I hand-picked a pair of ripe sentences for you that pricked me as I read them. 

Under the lifting skirts of the dreary canopy, dim light leaked into Mordor like pale morning through the grimed window of a prison


The torch, that was already burning low when he arrived, spluttered and went out; and he felt the darness cover him like a tide. 

The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (published 1955). 

I bolded the part that made me shiver with glee.  Aren't they beautifully written?  It's subtle by so strong. 

It's pretty funny, actuallly, how absorbed I was this morning.  It was all we don't have enough water, they could afford only a nibble of lembas and take my rations Mr. Frodo because etcetera etcetera.  And I was so freakishly hungry and thirsty when we finally breaked for lunch that I could barely walk!  I'm amazed by how clever writing is.  It's an incredible thing.  Very incredible. 

By the way, I have begun to revise my catalogue of 'Dates of Birth and Death of Major Authors and Publication Dates of Major Literary Works Between 1500 and 2001'.  It is a spectacularly nerdy enterprise, but it is hugely interesting, because there are a lot of connections between things.  I also intend to start including the years in which film adaptions have been made.  And while doing all this, I've found that I really need to start compiling a catalogue of all the intertwining connections between books and authors - like I never knew that Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens wrote books together (short story The Haunted Mansion).  I mean, I knew Wilkie Collins published in Charles Dickens' magazine, but this fresh gossip is too juicy to forget in the future.  I've just so into it!

Oh, and lastly, I found out that 25th of May is 'Towel Day', celebrated by all Douglas Adams fans.  I know what I'm doing next year! 

Friday, June 24

The Gorgeous and Glorious Connection

There's an interesting sort of thing about holidays.  You spend the entire semester burning your mental capacity to a crisp to even submit your assessment, and every moment you long with your entire being to have a holiday.  Then right at the end, there is an awkward little bit of aftermath - about a week and a half - in which you don't have to do anything except turn up.  There are no assessments or assignment work; just some introductions to the next unit's topic perhaps and some movie-watching, maybe even ducttape your teacher to his chair and watch him fall on his face trying to get out if you're lucky.  And it is during this little time that everyone calms down, freshens up and gets ready to enjoy themselves immensely. 

I did.  I had a most beautiful week this week.  Every single lunch break, I plonked myself down amidst my friends and we milked the last drops of available time for the oppertunity to play card games, laugh especially loud, tell great and glorious stories and in general, enjoy the company to the max.  I feel more connected this one week than any week of my life.  I don't remember ever feeling this in tune before, and I think I would certainly have remembered it as significant if I had. 

I just really revelled in everyone's company this week.  I laughed so loudly and frequently with my beautiful best friend O, and also with M, and S.  I silently adored K, because she is sweet and adorable and so bold with her passions that I couldn't help but listen to her constantly.  I laughed at and with the other M, who certainly gave me a lot to laugh at and with.  T. wrinkled his nose when he laughed and that was plenty.  And J. and A. and Y. and J. all made it seem like home.  I enjoyed it so extremely, fully and unreservedly that when we walked out of the gates together on our ways home, I couldn't retain the tears when I wished them goodbye for the holidays. 

Midway through the term, my pores were screeching for a break, but the aftermath of the burnout was such a glorious and gorgeous holiday in itself, that I don't want the holiday.  I was too in love with being utterly connected. 

Thursday, June 23

Despondence and Mortification!

I'm not into nit-picking in books, but I have noticed a sort of absurd and hilarious little thing in Frankenstein which has been niggling in me so much the last two days that I absolutely must mention it! 

I'm not sure if Mary Shelley provides any sort of explanation for it later on or not, because I haven't finished it yet obviously, but I can't get over how eloquently Frankenstein's monster talks!  I have reached the part where Frankenstein is listening to his creation's 'story', because he begged him to hear him out before killing him.  His monster then goes on to tell pretty well his entire life's story.  He explains how he had to learn everything from scratch just like an infant.  This includes speech.  So why exactly is he telling this story about learning to understand words like 'fire' and 'rain' with the eloquent and verbose phrases of an English scholar? 

The old man, leaning on his son, walked each day at noon, when it did not rain, as I found it was called when the heavens poured forth its water. 


I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers - their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool!  At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who w as reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification.  Alas!  I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity.

Chapter IV, Part II, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (published 1818). 

Mmmhmm.  Yes.  Well.  Despondence and mortification!  Alas.  I did not yet entirely know that you would be able to talk like this so quickly after learning what 'rain' and 'fire' are. 

It doesn't annoy me at all, though.  I just kind of find it funny.  It's nearly cute.  It's a nice little thing to know, isn't it?  And I don't think I'll ever forget it, because I've thought about it so much. 

Wednesday, June 22

The Ups and Downs of my Reading Life

Well, my reading life has been a tad topsy-turvy of late!  After Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I got out To Kill a Mockingbird but I really wasn't in the mood to read it.  For some funny absurd reason, I've been craving books that are going to be really intriguing or suspensful or just science-fictiony, which is so unlike usual for me.  So, knowing well that F. Scott Fitzgerald always writes gorgeously, I detoured via his book The Last Tycoon.  I finished that, but was still not in the mood to read To Kill a Mockingbird.  So I looked for something by H. G. Wells, because he is the most famous classic science-fiction author.  I was hoping to find War of the Worlds, but I ended up only discovering The Invisible Man, which I suppose was no mean feat in itself as it was very translucent and elusive.  But I didn't feel like that.  So I detoured via Frankenstein - classic thriller. 

Well, I am still currently onboard the said divergence.  It's kind of funny how this mood has been carrying me up and down like a leaf on the breeze.  I did put a hold on War of the Worlds in the hope that I'll get to read it during the holidays, so that is quite exciting.  Not to mention I'm going to watch the movie of Hitchhiker's again with my brother this weekend, and I found the miniseries to watch, too.  Hmm.  This should be very interesting!

I suppose the real culprit, however, of my unusual moods and cravings is not that I'm pregnant, but rather that I spent much too much time with The Woman in White a while ago.  Two months reading the same long, monotonous book, however fulfilling it's conclusion was, has certainly left me utterly devoid of patience for slowness.  So I'm kind of taking a break from conventional classics. 

I think Hitchhiker's was exactly what I needed, but I enjoyed it so much that it has led me to thirst for books with either great humour or great suspense.  Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, I'm even tempted to go back and read Perelandra!  Gosh!  What a book that is! 

Frankenstein has kind of surprised me.  It's not nearly as fast as I assumed, and is considerably verbose.  However, there is a thread of intrigue travelling its length.  I thought I should share with you the first moment in which I really became truly fascinated!

One secret which I alone possessed was the hope to which I had dedicated myself; and the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places

Chapter IV, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818). 

A single sentence, but it does grab you by the collar, does it not?  I think perhaps I had better stop talking now, as I have too much to say and cannot possibly compile it intelligibly in this space.  Good night and take care.

Tuesday, June 21

Black Gloves and a Nickel

Hello my dears.  I started reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein yesterday afternoon, but I couldn't begin talking about it until I had mentioned this one last little thing that has been waiting as a draft for the past two days. 

There is a rivetting little scene in The Last Tycoon in which film producer, Monroe Stahr, is feeding inspiration to his colleagues.  He paints for them in words and actions the setting and characters and leaves them hanging to fuel their intrigue and interest in their task of writing a script.  I was actually quite surprised and delighted how it affected me, too. 

I incidentally found this very scene from Youtube, from the film adaption, and thought you might like it.  Observe that Stahr is being played by Robert DeNiro.  I never imagined that, but it's good.

We'll get onto Frankenstein and whatnot tomorrow, hey?  Take care. 

(Ps.  Don't forget about the Open Sesame Challenge.  It won't be open for too much longer because there have been no new entries for almost a week.  To enter, just suggest your favourite opening line, paragraph or page from a book.  When the challenge is closed, we will look back at the entries, and hold a poll on which you think is the most 'interesting' way to begin a book.)

Monday, June 20

The Book Florist has a Face!

Hello my dears.  I have been wanting to get myself a profile picture for so very long, but I have never had the time or the means to take a photo.  So on the weekend, I did a picture.  It's watercolour, using the gorgeous set my Dad bought me several years ago.  The colours are great, and I'm pleased with the picture, except that it doesn't photograph terribly well.  So this is my profile picture until further notice.  Someday I'll make the effort to do a proper photograph, and maybe I'll get some assistance photographing it better.  We'll see. 

The Book Florist

Yes, so now I'm going to hop into a nice hot bath with Frankenstein.  Sounds like a whole heap of fun, hey?  Take care.

Ps.  Don't forget about the Open Sesame Challenge.  It's still open!  Just suggest your favourite opening line, paragraph or page from a book!

Sunday, June 19

Fitzgerald's Ton of Bricks

I've been on a bit of a roll of late!  After completing Hitchhiker's in a single day, I snapped up The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and after three days of nothing to do except read, I wish to report, I have finished that too. 

Now, I have several things to say on the subject.

Firstly, as I have found with both of the previous two books by F. Scott Fitzgerald I have read, The Last Tycoon is gorgeously crafted, atmospheric and blustery.  It started off with considerably less than the usual oomp, but by a third of the way in, I was well won over by the atmoshphere, which leads me to mention the second thing.

F. Scott Fitzgerald had this uncanny propensity which I think can be fairly blamed for how much I adore his writing.  My Dad always says that when someone is telling a story, you can always tell whether they were really there or not, because they mention things that otherwise people would never think to mention.  Like an old, close friend of mine once remarked that when she had been in Paris, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, she could hardly breathe because the wind rushed your breath right back down your throat.  And an old teacher of mine once remarked that when she had been living in London, the sign of Spring was not birds or blossoms or sunshine, but the absence of the nip in the cold.  I truly believe that unless they had experienced it, they wouldn't have thought to mention things like this.  It makes it so authentic.  I'd never thought of putting it this way before, but this is exactly what F. Scott Fitzgerald does. 

The windsheild wiper ticked domestically as a grandfather's clock.  Sullen cars were leaving the wet beaches and starting back to the city.  Further on they ran into fog - the road lost boundaries on either side, and the lights of cars coming towards them were stationary until just before they flared past.

'It rained the day I came.  Such an awful rain - so loud - like horses weeing.'
Do you see what I mean?  And though these passages sound fresh and real by themselves, mixed into the context of the story, they are leaping with other emotions.  Imagine the first passage not at all as dreary and wet, but as sparkling and exciting, and a moment shared by two anticipating lovers after a hot, sunny, salty, Californian day by the sea.  The context makes it blare out with brighter colours, doesn't it?  I love the atmosphere of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing.  His authenticity and his smells, sounds and sights are grittily superb.  Hmm!  I feel like I could just inhale whole paragraphs and it would remove dinginess from my lungs. 

Thirdly, I would like to admit that I was somewhat astounded to discover, half way through the book, that it was unfinished.  I would have liked to have been told that.  Ah well.  It has been a real experience!  It went something like this...

The Last Tycoon was incomplete and only in rough form when F. Scott Fitzgerald passed away in 1940 at the age of 44.  He had suffered from tuberculosis hemorrhaging and several heart attacks.  However, his extensive notes for the novel gave Edmund Wilson, (close friend of Fitzgerald's), enough to work with to complete a brief outline of the intentions for the missing end to the story and polish what had actually been written.  The novel was published in 1941.  

I reached the end of Fitzgerald's work this morning, and might have been content to let it lie where it was, as the last sentences gave me enough to contemplate, except Edmund Wilson's outline for the end of the novel was included, and this path I trotted down readily.  I think that to have the last half or so of a book described briefly and unemotionally in the space of five pages is like a smack in the jaw regardless of which book it is.  What I read of Fitzgerald's was like the story and the ending was like a 'where are they now' column in the paper.  And what happened to them all in the end, was a lot to take in.  I imagine that if it had all been written out, the end would have been very powerful, but to hear it all so quickly and bluntly was gut-wrenching.  Like hearing the first fifty years of her life story from your grandmother and then waking up to be told by a surgeon that she died in the night.  That was what it was like.  It hits like a ton of bricks, and is so poignant and metaphorical, I feel.  I think to hear the story in this way makes it even more brilliant than it might have been.  It realises the savage irony represented in the story in the novel's own story.  It was incredible.  I think perhaps it's time for me to have a good long think. 


Saturday, June 18

Wrapping Up...

'You know,' said Arthur, 'it's times like this, when i'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.'

'Why, what did she tell you?'

'I don't know, I didn't listen.' 

Chapter 7, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam's (published 1979). 

Well, I've started a new book by now, The Last Tycoon, by F. Scott Fitsgerald, and as I have stuff to share with you from it, I guess it's time that we wrapped up Hitchhiker's.  Not that it wants wrapping up.  I enjoyed it too much.  There's too much in it.  It's so choc-a-clock with gags and laughs and such sweet little moments, and metaphors that I feel that it can't possibly grow old.  How could something like this grow old?  It's a great experience, and I would urge everyone to take a couple of steps into it at least.  So much fun!

Having a plethora (now that's a word I don't often use) of DVDs at my fingertips, I decided quite promptly after finishing the book to watch The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie.  It's actually a very trusty adaption, and bears quite the same witty, blunt and comical atmosphere.  In fact, there are long sequences of dialogue which are straight from it, which was exciting!  And what stands out to me most of all, is that the things that made me nearly choke on my tongue in the book are the same things that made me splutter my tea everywhere in the movie!  But then, to their detriment and exaltation (take it which way you would rather), the same things that were a tad odd in the book remain unchanged in the movie.  Like the whole sperm whale thing.  It goes for just a bit too long to be really hilarious, and they did it exactly the same way in the film, which is lovely and considerate of them, don't you think?  It's kind of cute even.  Anyway, the movie is a good one, and Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent is great.  Here's the trailer. 

It kind of makes me want to read the whole book again!  It was exactly what I wanted and needed at the time, but over too quickly, like a really nice lolly that disolves too quickly in your mouth.  And it isn't just sweet and shallow, but rather full of quite quirky and challenging metaphors which pop up like meer cats along the narrative.  I think I'll need to do it again some time.  Actually, I know I will, because I can hardly keep my mind off it!  Uughh!  It's time to wrap it up in a nice big towel, pat it tenderly, tell it not to panic and let it float into hyperspace for a bit. 

... If only I knew where my towel was...

Friday, June 17

To Know Where One's Towel Is

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase which has passed into hitch hiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)
Chapter 3, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (published 1979). 

I like the idea of being a 'really amazingly together guy'.  Sounds like it might be nice for a change.  To be a hoopy or frood.  Wouldn't that be nice? 

*    *    *    *    *

OK!  I've just come back from randomly and reminiscently swaying in my chair mumbling "wouldn't it be nice if the world was Cadbury?"  I wanted to read a lot today, but I couldn't get my eyes to focus on the letters and it was frustrating me.  So I bludged the day away.  
This afternoon, I experimented with using a microphone set and computer audio program to 'read on' and audio book.  It's something I've wanted to do for a very long time, but even after a couple of hours worth of fidgeting, I haven't been able to find a way of eliminating the horrible noise that lies over the top of the vocal recording.  When I first started I wasn't hearing it, and then all of a sudden, it was the only I can hear, and I can't get rid of it.  Hmm.  I know it's all terribly unproffesional, but I would still like to be able to produce a plausibe sort of result.  Maybe I just need to do it differently, but I'm not at all well up to know in programs and equipment of this sort.  This initial failure is accompanying a general mood of 'what the hey?' and 'I'm bored'.  I just don't know where my towel is today. 

Thursday, June 16

Confession and Illusion

I have a confession to make.  I finished The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I actually finished it two days ago.  I actually finished it the same day I started it!

Oh the horror!  I swear, I'm not usually like this!  You've obviously seen how I can spend long months on a book.  And for some reason I felt gluttonous because I ate it up so quickly.  I felt guilty. 

But I see now that I had no need to.  I had the time on my hands, I had a nice warm bed and lots of cups of tea, and I was earnestly and deeply enjoying it.  I had no need to stop.  I just kept on reading and enjoying it.  I should be proud of myself for the self-care.  Trust human nature to try and guilt trip me for self-care.  Hmmph!! 

Anyway, I had enough things written down to keep on talking about Hitchhiker's for days, so I intend to.  I'm sure you won't mind, because they are very good little tidbits.  Listen to this little snippet!  I think you'll catch up on the context. 


'But I can't speak Vogon!'

'You don't need to.  Just put this fish in your ear.'
Ford, with a lightning movement, clapped his hand to Arthur's ear, and he had the sudden sickening sensation of the fish slithering deep into his aural tract.  Gasping with horror he scrabbled at his ear for a second or so, but then slowly turned goggle-eyes with wonder.  He was experiencing the aural equivalent of looking a picture of two black silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick.  Or of looking at a lot of coloured dots on a piece of paper which suddenly resolve themselves into the figure six and mean that your optician is going to charge you a lot of money for a new pair of glasses.
He was still listening to the howling gargles, he knew that, only now it had somehow taken on the semblance of perfectly straighforward English. 

Chapter 5, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (published 1979). 
This little passage was a bit of a a-ha moment for me.  I am personally familiar with the image of the silhouetted faces and the candlestick, but it's something like this. 

This optical illusion, developed around 1915, was designed by the Danish psychologist, Edgar Rubin.  It is known mostly as Rubin's Vase.  The point is that all of a sudden you will see it the other way round.  You begin seeing it one way, and enough time or concentration or lack of concentration will suddenly render it an entirely new image, revealing the other side to it.  It's a very popular well known illusion.  But the thing I love about this all, is that in Douglas Adams' reference to this illusion, he is making such a great point.  I immediately know exactly what he means.  Don't you?  That sudden switch in perspective?  It's brilliant.  It's such a brilliant little snack, this book is.  I do love it. 

Ode To A Lump of Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning

Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe.  The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria.  During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatuelent of his poem 'Ode To A Small Lump of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning', four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his legs off.  Grunthos is reported to have been 'disappointed' by the poem's reception, and was about to embark on reading his twelve-book epic My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles when his major intenstine, in a desperate attempt to safe life and civilisation, leapt up through his neck and throttled his brain. 

The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England in the destruction of the planet Earth. 

Chapter 7,The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (published 1979). 

The thing I love about Hitchhiker is that it is written in such a way that certain words jump out at you and surprise you so you can't stop laughing.  Like in this excerpt, the choice of the word 'intenstine' rather than some other organ makes the picture twice as ridiculous in my mind.  It really does crack me up!  And then that the audience died of internal haemorrhaging of all things justs suits perfectly the occasion, don't you think?  His wording is part of his wit.

Ps. This post is to make up for what I didn't say last night, so you might even like to expect another one following close on its heels tonight.  Take care. 

Tuesday, June 14

Don't Panic!!

I know this is probably a lot to swallow in one go but in reality it's only a page and a half's worth from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I tried to make it smaller but it's so brilliantly effective, ironic, meaningful and hilarious in its entirity.  When you finish it I will tell you what I think about the book so far.  I can tell it's going to be a popular one, this one. 

'The Babel fish,' said The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quietly, 'is small, yellow, and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe.  If feeds on brainwave energy received not from its carrier but from those around it.  It absorbs all unconcious mental frequencies from this brain-wave energy to nourish itself with.  It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them.  the practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any  form of language...

'Notw it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidences that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NON-existense of God. 

'The arguement goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

'"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it?  It could not have evolved by chance.  It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguements, you don't.  QED." 

'"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. 

'"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove black is white and gets himself killed on the enxt zebra crossing. 

'Most leading theologians claim that this arguement is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up For God.

'Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers of communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.' 

Chapter 6, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (published 1979). 

Alright, well, firstly, I feel that my exam went pretty well, so thankyou for your 'break-a-leg' attitude.  It was appreciated, even though I only recieved your wished luck afterwards.  I remembered everything that I needed to remember, and as it was a response-to-stimulus essay exam, I'm content to report that the essay itself flowed satisfactorily.  Isn't 'satisfactorily' a kind of hefty and difficult word to say right off the top of your head?  It's like 'familiarly'.  I really need to consider it a little before I say it.  And even then, I'm not a hundred per cent sure whether I've done it justice.  It's a handy word, though. 

OK.  So, onto business.  I rushed home after the exam, set my electric blanket on three to heat up, ate a museli bar, made a cup of tea and took the stairs two at a time to leap into bed, snuggle and begin The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I am very reportedly and unashamedly NOT a modern book person.  I imagine I've probably said that a couple of times before.  I read classics.  But Hitchhiker kind of falls into a weird category, where it's new but still acceptable.  Hmmmm.  Really I'm just making an exception.  1979 or whatever... that's not too bad.

Well, I have toiled away pretty well undistractedly since I got home and as it's really only quite a small book, I am actually more than half way through it, which isn't such a common occurance for me.  Usually I spend a month, perchance two months etcetera.  So sitting, reading aloud, laughing and giggling, and actually making progress has been a great change and pleasure for me.  I have been really enjoying it, and for a little bit of something sweet to slip in between main courses, it is just the thing. 

It is so different to the normal style of books I read.  For one thing, people like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins are terrible solemn most of the time, but every now and again snap out of it to offer up a little gem of comic relief, which takes the acquired taste of a Dickens or Collins reader to appreciate.  But Hitchhiker is nearly exhausting, in comparison, because so much is funny!  It's a great comedy, but comedy with a really good point.  You laugh, but you laugh because it is so true - it's humour of irony and sarcasm, and also, most significantly, it's humour of the wrong thing at the wrong time being just SO right, that you almost die laughing!  It has been such a joy so far!  I think that this has been a much needed change of scenery...  or galaxy, I suppose, more specifically. 


Only a Matter of Hours Now!

OK.  My exam block is 9:00 am this morning.  It is currently 7:16.  It ends at 11:30, so give me 45 minutes to come home, warm up my electric blanket, make a cup of tea and snuggle into bed.  Then I am going to begin The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  And pretty soon we'll have somethin to talk about.  Maybe even later today!  It's very exciting delving into something completely different, but then I really do need to detox my reading life a bit, especially after two months of flat out The Woman in White

And by the way, has anyone thought of an opening line, paragraph of page they would love to suggest for the Open Sesame Challenge? 

See you soon!

Monday, June 13

I Care a Tad Too Much

I don't feel that there are all too many things that I am extremely good at except for reading.  Of course, I can do pretty well anything to an extent, but reading is the one thing that I get excited about.  And because it is the one thing I get excited about, whenever somebody says something or does something which has something to do with one of the books I love, I immediately fall into a hopeless and helpless panic because that book there was my lifeblood for the fortnight or so that I toiled over it.  There it goes, mentioned, forgotten, trodden perchance, and for that moment somebody pricked my soul.  Pricked it quite maliciously without intention, because they brought it up without letting my bursting ideas, memories and opinions recradle that book in that moment.  It's a sad sort of thing, really.  In conversation it is terrible.  But in movies it is nearly intolerable.  So you can imagine my great astonishment, delight and also horror when I discovered that all of a sudden, it seems that everything I love is being adapted for film.  It seems that I was born just at exactly the right time to be exactly the right age in exactly the right mind-space to see everything I love be adapted.  Incredible. 

I think that you will probably will be astonished, delighted and horrorfied also when you hear what the notoriously hopeless film industry is going to attempt recreating:
  • Wuthering Heights.  I started crying when I heard that two nights ago.  It is probably the one book that truly deserves being a movie, but I so hope with every inch of aching heart that it will be a wonderful moment and not a horrible one, when it is done.  I think if it is done well and properly, I will be a sobbing mess in the cinemas when I see it - sobbing with joy that it is really good, and also sobbing because if it is really good, it is going to be such a tragically sad movie! 
  • Anna Karenina!  I can hardly contain my qualms when I heard that it's probably going to end up as a Keira Knightly and Jude Law number.  I need no hollywood stars, just anyone at all who could possible play it well.  Because this is a story that needs telling, but it needs telling properly!  Oh gosh!  I so hope it's told properly!  Oh, I care too much!
  • The Great Gatsby!  This one, at least, we have nothing to fear.  It is being made by Baz Luhrman, an Australian director, who makes movies every one of them obscurely, but brilliantly.  And of course Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby... well he is reflected in every line and movement of Gatsby in the book so really, there couldn't be a more perfect actor. 
Isn't it so desperately horrendous and terrific when something you want so badly sounds like it might just possibly be about to come true, but there is the risk that it will either make this story alive again for everyone to adore with new passion, or that it will have been better off that it was never done, because it defamed it in an atrocious fashion before the multitudes!  Oh!!!!!  Three books that have delighted and astounded me so as to have become to the bricks to my opinions, the foundation to my tastes, and stories that I will never, EVER forget because of the impact they had on me, will be released in this way to the world.  Oh!  Uuughh!  I don't even know what to say now!!!  They are three of the best books ever written, and I just hope so badlly that my soul doesn't get pricked again. 

We Bury the Woman in White

Hello, my dears!  I think the occasion calls for a drumroll. 

And perhaps some cymbals would be handy to show that the drumroll finished.

The grand news is... I have finished reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins!  Alas, it has certainly been a long and arduous journey, and I guess that you've been a bit starved for quotes in bygone times - I admit it's not a terribly quotable book.  But anyhow, I sat in bed this morning and devoured the last few chapters.

It starts beautifully, and in the opening chapters, the characters are vibrant and endearing, Pesca, especially, bouncing off the pages in a refreshingly tangible fashion.  But somewhere in the following 400 pages, the tension drops so drastically that although the reader is aware of a mystery, the pace isn't quick enough to tighten the slackening thread.  It's tolerable reading, every now and again peaking into a spike of renewed suspense, but overall not hugely exciting. 

It gradually picks up, and in the last 200 pages or so, the narrative grows back to its original intrigue, until in the last 50 pages etcetera, it's frustratingly suspenseful.  And the ending!  Well, I think that ending is perfect, and left me with a sense that the whole trudging journey was completely worth while.  I suppose it takes a great ending like that to sting you with how deeply you have connected with the characters without even knowing!

I think that the highlight of the book, though, is, pretty well without rival, the character of Count Fosco.  I could not possibly describe him to you without snatching the words straight out of the book.  Meeting him is really an experience that needs to be lived personally to be fully understood.  I certainly don't have time to throw together even a revoltingly crude idea of him!  He is horrible but so real, nearly nightmarishly real.  Sickly sweet and intense, he is.  Wow.  I am really biting down the realisation of how incredible the experience was. 

Alright, in a nut shell, the book as a whole was amazing, parts of the book were boring, the characters were brilliant, and The Moonstone, Wilkie's second book, is so much better. 

Hm.  Kind of contradictory. 

Uuggh!  I don't have the time to explain better!  I'm going to get out Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tomorrow after my exam block so that's obviously exciting.  I just hope that even though it's iconic and sounds quirky, it doesn't end up as a face-plant into modern-literature vomit.  I can't be bothered!  On the bright side, though, the guy who plays Andrew Dent (the main character) in the movie, is Martin Freeman, the guy who plays Watson in the BBC series, Sherlock, and oh how I loved his portrayal of my favourite character!  Anyway!  Rambling!  Time to go.  Take care!

Sunday, June 12

The Final Polish of the Shoe

In 1913, when Anthony Patch was twenty-five, two years were already gone since irony, the Holy Ghost of this later day, had, theoretically at leastm descended upon him.  Irony was the final polish of the shoe, the ultimate dab of the clothes-brush, a sort of intellectual 'There!' - yetat the brink of this story he has as yet gone no further than the conscious stage.  As you first see him he wonders frequently whether he is not without honour and slightly mad, a shamrful and obscene thiness glistening on the surface of the world like oil on a clean pool, these occasions being varied, of course, with those in which he thinks himself rather an exceptional young man, thoroughly sophisticated, well adjusted to his environment, and somewhat more significant than any one else he knows.

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, (published 1922). 

This is my new entry to the Open Sesame Challenge.  It is the opening paragraph to The Beautiful and Damned, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Isn't it so completely full of imagery?  It is bluntly but very brilliantly put, and I can see it all in my head, laid out like a domestic scene in a mouse's doll's house that represents the play of humanity.  Hmmm.  Where did that line come from? 

Please, my dears, enter your favourite opening line, paragraph or page from a book, and have a read of all the entries so far, (the list on the right hand side has links to all entries so far).  Let's hear what you like about the entries and what you value about your own. 

Saturday, June 11

Legally Drunk on Happiness

Eh bein, we have an entry to the Open Sesame Challenge!  This entry is from Changesofheart, and it is the opening paragraph (and introduction) to the book she is currrently reading, Love Poems from God, which is a compilation of poems (some of which are from good old, jolly Hafiz, whom I love to death!).  This is the opening paragraph that she has entered:

'I hope a few of these poems will reach in deep enough to cure what separates us from each other, and from the beautiful. I hope you fall into this wine barrel and crawl out legally drunk, and get arrested for doing something that makes God proud of you, like being too happy.'

It's lovely isn't it, and paints such a jolly, jolly, merry old picture of joy, don't you think?  So please, everyone, don't forget to enter you favourite opening line, paragraph and page from a book, and feel free even to enter several, if you have enough in mind.  I encourage, though, to mention what the author and title of the book, for the sake of being able to find it. 

Thankyou, and take care. 

Friday, June 10

I Open the Sesame

OK.  So we now have a new challenge.  It is called the Open Sesame Challenge.  I have whipped up a few guidelines on the spot so we can begin it!

So I'm thinking that it's going to last a couple of weeks or maybe longer depending. 

What it is is that you think of your favourite opening line, paragraph or page of a book. 

It needs to be of a book, and not a poem.  We can do something separate for poems some other time I guess. 

You can enter your favourite opening line, paragraph or page of a book by leaving a comment.  So I can display your entry on Bouquets, you will need to have copied and pasted that line, paragraph or page in, or have told me exactly what section it is so I can find it myself. 

I will post all entries on Bouquets, and the title of your entry will be listed as a link on the right hand side. 

Now, for the interesting part.  Once we have finished the challenge, we shall read through all of the entries and vote on which we think is the Most Interesting.  'Interesting' could entail intriguing and attention-grapping or even just beautifully written.  But I think that seeing what you all think is a 'Interesting' beginning to a book will be hugely fascinating.  So don't be shy!  Enter as many as you like and let the games begin! 

Thursday, June 9

The Open Sesame Challenge

Hello my dears! Firstly, I would like to apologize for not commenting on any of your blogs recently. It’s entirely Blogger’s fault. It is failing to recognize me, and keeps redirecting me to the Google account login in an aggravating loop.

ME: Gmail, password, enter. Oo!

BLOGGER: Redirecting.

ME: OK then. Gmail, password, enter. Oo!

BLOGGER: Redirecting.

ME: Hmm. Gmail, password, enter.  Oo!

Etcetera etcetera. It just isn’t getting any less repetitive.

Now, today Themanycoloursofhappiness mentioned Charles Dickens in her comment and that got my mind in a complete buzz about him, even though every orifice in my face seems to be clogged with mucous.

I’ve read just two of his books, and they are Oliver Twist and Hard Times. I think that probably the main thing I adore about Charles Dickens is his characters. He has an intensely stimulating style of describing his creations in the perfect light with the perfect words that they stand out stark and strong and amazingly believable. And he has the tendency to stun you right out of the middle of his solemn narrative with a bubbling twinkle of humour. This little trick of his has often made me suddenly laugh aloud in a full classroom. I really respect him for having the goodness to do this.

Hard Times is a brilliant, little book that I would certainly recommend. It is very short in comparison to his other works, but it packs just the same punch. All in itself, without any context, without any pretext, the very first page builds a little scene out of thin air. It is just an exceptional little story all of itself, requiring nothing at all to make it work. I have often read the first page all by itself, and each time it succeeds in sending thrills into me.

This is the first page, and (how so unbelievably convienient), the first chapter too. Take a good, long, hearty swig of this!

'NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!'

The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room, and the speaker's square forefinger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster's sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's square wall of a forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis was helped by the speaker's hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside. The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders, - nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was, - all helped the emphasis.

'In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!'

The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.

Chapter 1, Hard Times by Charles Dickens (published 1854)

Isn’t it wonderful? For me, it is like in just these few paragraphs, the whole scene, the whole person, is etched out for me with a dark, scratchy pencil. It is such a brilliant little experience, don’t you think?

You know what? I think what would be great would be to have a challenge. How about, for the next couple of weeks, you share all your favourite opening lines, paragraphs, pages or chapters? I have a couple I can whip out, and you do too, I bet, because already, your mind is probably bursting with little snatches of beautifully strung words.  And I would like to call it the Open Sesame Challenge. 

Tuesday, June 7

The Mark Twain Effect

Every so often I am reminded how hilarious it is when the character and appearance of an author is apparent through their writing.  Just this afternoon, I remarked to my mum how hilarious it was that the character and appearance of dear, old Hafiz, 14th century mystic poet, is so vivid and obvious in his poems.  What I said to her was along the lines of "I can just see him - he's a well-rounded, jolly, apple-cheeked old man, doing a little spirited jig as he drinks and talks in a deep, booming laugh".  And I only think so because his poems could only have been written by such a man.

Mark Twain is the same, and he is the person I wish to linger on.  If you have read his books, as you must have once, (because secondary teachers seem to be quite fond of his dashing little creations, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn), you will know that his writing is clear, no-fuss, witty, a touch on the dry side, fresh and adventurous.  If you have read his quotes, as you must have once, (because I love decorating my blog with them), you will know that his sayings are of utmost wit and jocularity, with a touch of dry sarcasm and cynicism. 

Overall, if I had never seen a picture of him in my life, I would think that he looked like this:

Which is very cheering, when he actually looks like this:

You would have picked up on the fact that they are both pictures of Mark Twain.  Yes.  Isn't it just hilarious how perfectly his writing portrays him.  He looks just how I would think him to look - dry, with a brooding deep intellect, which is served on a china saucer, rather than a silver platter like some writers, in boyish adventure tales and witty anecdotes.  I think him the most 'Mark-Twain-looking' man possible.  And it all comes through his writing. 

Do you find this the case?  Undoubtedly you would.  I don't think that readers can help it.  We're so used to picturing characters in our minds, and a book in its entirety is just one, big character description for the person who wrote it.  Isn't it just hilarious?

By the way, here are some Mark Twain quotes for you:

He really knows how to put a simple concept in so many words to make it starkly honest and hilarious. 

Monday, June 6

An Epoch in My Life

Today marks an epoch.  Epoch is a great word, isn't it?  I first read it in Anne of Green Gables, and it was in the title of one of the last chapters.  It was called 'An Epoch in Anne's Life'.  Many of you might remember.  But it basically means the beginning of a new time, a new era etcetera. 

Today is my one hundredth post.  I find it terribly difficult to believe, but I don't think Blogger is lying, somehow.  I suppose the little digits "99 posts so far" kind of validate the time I have spent thinking, and even feeling.  I suppose the idea of having taken an hour or so a day to tend to my own thoughts, my own ideas, is grand.  And to think I have done it 99 times. 

It is an achievement. 

Anyonewho has done anything 99 times is bound to think the one hundredth an epoch. 

Today marks an epoch.  It marks the beginning of something for me, or perhaps it is more a milestone in my growth, my maturing, my ripening into the person I want to be. 

Perhaps today is the day that I realise that one hundred times, I have been honest.  One hundred times I have said what I felt like saying.  One hundred times I been kind to myself. 

It is truly grand.  So, while I am sitting in a state very much like floating in a pool, in summer, on my back, eyes closed, smiling, I will say thankyou, to myself, for doing this 100 times.  Because it doesn't matter how much anyone else loves me if I don't love myself.  And I think that the very fact that I have sat here and talked and thought and felt shows that I do.  I really do.  I really do indeed. 

Saturday, June 4

Thankyou for Listening

Something I have always loved to do is reading aloud and my dad is my listener.  I think it is something I have done since I was twelve, and perhaps even younger.  I would sit in the garage and read to him with all the voices while he made up a palette, sketched out the outlines and composed his painting. 

Over the years, I have read so many different things to him, all reflecting in the truest way stages of my passions and interests. 

I read him Nobody's Dog by Colin Dann.  Good old Colin whom I loved so closely as my friend.  I read him The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle and The Story of Doctor Doolittle and together we adventured with the most compassionate and affectionate of animal friends.  I read him The Chronicles of Narnia.   I read him every book of E. Nesbit's that I could get my hands on - oh the two of us couldn't get enough of darling E. Nesbit!  I read him Anne of Green Gables which he remembers as one of the best times of his life, and from that moment on, Anne has been embossed on the door of the inner sanctuary of our hearts.  I read as much of My Life in France by Julia Child as I could, for he was busier and busier all the time, and when she said goodbye at the very end, we cried and cried like heart-sick children over the loss of a most beautiful sister, mother, teacher, and bosom friend. 

I suppose that together, the two of us made a kind of beautiful music.  My spoken words, his painted colours.  Rolling about and about to form a great and glorious spiral, like a swirling strawberry and cream lollipop, I suppose.  Nowadays, it is very seldom that we get the chance to escape, but just this morning, out of the blue, he said, "I'm painting - would you read?"  A flutter of delight could not be stilled in me.  I had so much to do, but, hang it all, I missed reading to him so much.  I had barely uttered a chapter to him all year, and we were still hanging in the middle of The Return of the King, the last volume of The Lord of the Rings

I needed to do it.  He needed it, too.  So for an hour this morning, we did it.  I read and he listened.  And we both stopped after that hour and acknowledged, very bluntly but in delight, that reading was extremely important, and that it made our lives so rich.  Oh, I love him, and for each time that he thanks me for reading, I just must cry, 'how I thank you for listening!' 

Friday, June 3

The Life Story of Students

I don't think that I am the first or the last to speculate on how amazing avoidance is.  My mum discovered today that avoidance is handy, as it gets odd jobs done, and I learnt this afternoon that avoidance is yum, as it gets pancakes made.  Ah well.  The life-story of anyone who studies. 

I regret to say that I still have no book things to share.  It is beginning to drive me a tad nutty.  After this week though, I am going to have so much reading time on my hands that I will power through The Woman in White and plough straight into another book.  It is going to be good.  In fact, it will be great.  I am extremely looking forward to it! 

On a completely different note, however, I would love to commend themanycoloursofhappiness for suggesting a whole armful of books that she loves, and I would recommend you all have a peek at our list of Books to Read Before You Die.  It is finally beginning to look well fed.  Of course, it is still peckish for whatever titles you would like to feed it.  Thankyou, Kaylia. 


Wednesday, June 1

My Thoroughly Cooked Goose

I confess that of all animals, the one I remind myself of the most is a goose. 

The is not true of a goose's social habits, but behaviourally wise, I am quite accurately mirrored.  Like birds, and fish too, now that I think about it, I am very quick to become extremely extremely wholeheartedly enamoured with an idea, and very much like birds, I waddled about decidedly to my own purpose, quacking and honking away delightedly until my youthful passion suddenly runs adry.  At which point, I flap about a bit and then quickly turn back the other way and carry on quacking and honking away delightedly about something else.  And the quacking and honking thing in itself is a lot like me.  I'm a thinking-aloud type of person a lot of the time, and part of my means of mentally processing my plans (for study, for my weekend etcetera etcetera) is done aloud to my mum, who, by the way, is an excellent listener.  Thank goodness for that.

Well, it just so happened that like my many goose-like passions was the Horse Stage.  We know it for a fact, do we not, that the Horse Stage swiftly descends upon all unsuspecting female children of a certain age.  Its hypnosis is temporary and will suddenly be snapped out of like the waking up after a nightmare, and then life can continue as if it never happened. 

Well I, being a perfect goose, was content to linger in the Animals-in-General Stage for the majority of my childhood.  I was a hopeless and heart-felt animal enthusiast, but has never given any special consideration towards horses.  In fact, I was quite proud of the fact that I didn't particularly like horses.  I was happy to waddle on down the lane of contentment, quacking about how I would never succumb to the Horse Stage. 

Aha!  Ay me!  Being a goose, when the Horse Stage hit, it hit me harder than ever.  I was not only a helpless hypnotic under its influence...  I was an accomplice in evil!  I devoured something like five encyclopedias on horses, and then every general horse care, grooming, tack etceter etcetera manuals and guidebooks available to the city council library service (including those that had to be specially ordered in!)  I even wrote a 500 page novel (icurumba - I am so humiliated to have been to ridiculous!) about a racehorse.  And then I took riding lessons for way more than they are worth, and like a perfect goose, I proclaimed in utmost pride to all who could stand to dwell within twenty meters of me for the stench of horse, that I would never stop loving horses!  (Did you pick up on the total attitude swing).  Mmmhmmm.  That's right.  I said that I would never stop loving horses ever.  Yeah.  Well.

What can I say?  The Horse Stage ended.  I snapped out of it.  And I have been busy flapping and honking and quacking in the opposite direction ever since.