20°C, clearing

Mid holiday has a definite feeling. Work is still a long way off, physically and mentally recovered and looking forward to adventures. I’ve been on two already- both involved camping of one sort or another. Now, I’m looking north to Scotland.

I feel truly alive, which is a slight on work isn’t it? I can listen to music and be moved in a way that evaded me a month ago. Yesterday, I read a Spike Milligan book. His writing has that evocative mix of irony, wit and innocent sadness that had me doubled up in uncontrollable hysterics. Reading out a quote from the book was just impossible. I finished the book thinking the same thing on finishing Douglas Adams– I wish I could write like that.

Anyway, I feel restless. I have plenty of energy and lots of exercise is the only solution to that. Well, maybe not the only  one; many people use alcohol. There’s a miserable solution that is of no use to me.

Cold summer- what shall I read?

12°C, cool & wet.

I admit, it’s a nice problem to have- which book shall I read next? Canada has the best reviews, or 1Q84 does.
Stalker would be the easiest to get through though I an quite prepared to feel a bit embarrassed by its presence on my shelves. It could easily denigrate into an action story- all shooting & shouting.

1Q84: I have read the first chapter and it has all the magic- it leaves you with thoughts and ways of looking at things. It’s a bit of a beast though, the whole (bound two volumes) could take ages to read at my pace.

Flora Britannica

9°C, Dull, dull, dull.

Richard Maybe: Flora Britannica is my kind of plant book. It covers plants that are largely native to Britain, though some naturalised ones are covered but it’s different. It isn’t a gardening book. It’s got nothing on how to propogate, where to plant or anything like that. this one is about folklore, for want of a better word.

Church & State: interesting story from America, well, the USA anyway. : It seems they do have some people in power who are resisting the dominance of church in US state politics. For the past century, no US president has gained power without openly declaring his Christianity. This is unconstitutional of course if you know anything of the US constitution which aims at removing the inevitable corruption that appears when religious leaders gain political power.

Revenge of the Lawn

19°C, warm rain.

A utilitarian choice of read. Bedtime is time for a short read for me. It has ot be short because lying down makes me fall asleep- even in daytime. This book is full of short stories, I say it like that because there are so many of them in a thin book. One of them is only a few lines long. It’s nice to just to read his voice, though often the stories hold a pang of some sort that only Brautigan can reach in my (limited) experience.

Wind-up bird

1°C, E Wind. Dry.

Spent all day shopping for a music player for the kitchen. I really did get fed up with cooking in silence.

Except I didn’t, I got to Birmingham hungry after a train ride talking to an ex-pupil ( which was a real pleasure). Borders bookshop have the sort of Cafe with comfy chairs & sofas so I sat myself there with food & a coffee. It’s rather comfortable, so I stayed a while and read the book.

It would appear that you can alter the sensation of reading a book by changing your place. A book seems quite different if you read in a public space or at home in the quiet.

This book is deceptive, it seems easy to read, the language and voice are simple and conversational but the thoughts are much more. The author plays with seemingly incidental events and conversations amongst characters and serves them up in a way that gives them gravitas. You as reader can get drawn into this; if you do, you start to notice incidentals in your surroundings. So there am I, reading this book and absorbing the idea that things we do and see that are trivial are actually important and significant. We often don’t get to find out what the significance is, but gradually they reveal. And just like in “life”, some threads in Murakami’s books don’t ever resolve into anything. Life, as we know- is without plot: such a narrative is all imagined. Don’t we do this all the time- seek order out of the haphazard mess we are surrounded by? For now, most of the book remains unread, but there are some tantalising chapter titles to get to.

On Murakami

13°C, windy, cool and fresh. C 53 miles

Book: "Norwegian Wood", by Haruki Murakami
There is a lovely line in the book I am reading currently ("Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami.) He uses a simple language that is all the more powerful for it:

"Something inside me dropped away, and nothing came to fill the empty cavern. There was an abnormal lightness in my body, and sounds had a hollow echo to them."
…..Know that feeling?

I’m currently quite charmed by this book, it’s full of appealing characters and observations.
Today has been a relief, my heartbeat has dropped back to normal, (probably in the high 40s), so cycling was worry free. The air was fresh, sweet smelling and clear. All of this because my physical health has returned after long stubborn colds. I rode 53 miles today with no perceptible signs of tiredness, perhaps another 10 or 15 miles wouldn’t have gone amiss.
However, I failed to change a wheel on the car this weekend. It is getting close to the mark.

Impartial history

8°C, windy, some rain.

Reading: a fun book. It’s probably not real history, like a serious academic tome, but it makes me laugh. It’s the colloquial asides that lithen a standard history book, that make it accessible and will hopefully plug some gaps in my knowledge. Up to now, I don’t even know the difference between Medieval and the middle-ages. Perhaps I will after.
Impartial history


24°C, it’s a warm month- September

Reading Freakonomics right now. It’s quite a readable volume despite lots of Americanisms that I can’t work out. It’s been a good few weeks since last enjoying a book, a book desert.
Evening routine:

…work-get home-nap-eat-walk dogs-1 hour schoolwork-washup-add blog-play Stalker-read-bed.

I’m still talking about "Wormwood", erm, hope I haven’t bored anyone.

the world is going to be alright

17°C, heavy rain (again)

Wormwood: I’m getting a strong feeling that the world will be alright- once the human race is gone. In Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, there are feral horses, mainly in two herds, each led by a dominant stallion. In one story from Wormwood forest, one of the stallions broke into a farm full of confidence and at the peak of his physical strength, breaking down fences and rounded up mares to add to his herd. Wildlife is thriving in the zone, the damage caused by radiation is greatly offset by the lack of interference by the human race.It’s only been just over twenty years since the event, and already rare or endangered species are well established and indeed thriving.

This blog: the edit link is well hidden on the new-look blog, the page furnature is very Vista, but ease of use has been overlooked. It now has a very poor user interface. Worse, many functions no longer work- uploading photos only works with Firefox, MS IE6 fails on this nad buttons don’t have obvious functions: where it was labelled "Edit your space" now it says "Your space" follwed by a further two clicks, each held up with a long delay as it loads.

Summer holiday

 14°C, rain, non-stop & heavy.

Wormwood Forest: a book on the natural history of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
It’s the first day of our long summer holiday- and this is my summer read. Time will tell how good it is, the book is not well illustrated, but there’s more to life than pictures.
Waterstones weren’t of much use today; all I wanted to do was browse books on the Chernobyl disaster, but they are proving very scarce.
Here is a good idea; an offline test editor for making blog entries:
Unfortunately, it is not a valid win32 application- does that mean Vista 64 only?
Windows have updated this blog interface, it looks all Vistalich now- but it takes longer to load.