Today's post is about reading but I liked this pic of some pretty flowers that i've put into some old pots I found in the garden.
I can’t believe I left out books from my earlier list of things I like. They are perhaps the most important of all; I have always read a lot and I am never without a book.
I like different types of fiction as long as it’s well written with believable characters and plot. I can binge on detective stories (Maigret, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy (got me through a bout of illness a few years ago), and James Lee Burke's detective, Dave Robichaux with his 3 legged raccoon called Tripod is always a dependable holiday read. Those are a few random reads that spring to mind. Good characters will transport me to live in other people’s lives.
Reading is also something that I can do regardless of how well I am. Sometimes I’ll only feel up to reading a ‘lighter’ book as if the concentration becomes too much when I’m all weak. Although ‘lighter’ doesn’t mean compromising on quality.
I have just finished A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I rarely read books twice but in this case I chose it for the book club and the second time around is as absorbing as the first. It’s not exactly an easy read and I did at one point not want to read anymore as the main character suffers so much. But I loved him and all the characters and the friendship that they have with each other. I think it is about friendship first and foremost but also about suffering and whether terrible suffering can be transcended.
It is an unbelievable story in many ways but not unrealistic. It’s the sort of story that people think is too far a stretch of the imagination but I think that people don’t want to believe that things like that happen and if they do don’t want to stare it in the face.
I found the writing compelling. I loved some of the descriptions; early on in the book she writes: ‘One of the frames was already topped with a futon, a bulky, graceless thing, as heavy as a dead horse.’ I was immediately transported back years to a lumpy and uncomfortable dark blue futon that doubled as a sofa that I had, and just like trying to move a dead horse.
There is also a nice bit of writing about drawing. It’s about a young boys' drawings and how when he eventually has drawing lessons and is made to learn how to draw his drawings got worse and worse : ‘He had grown too self conscious to draw. When he saw a dog now, it’s long fur whisking the ground beneath it, he saw not a dog but a circle on a box, and when he tried to draw it, he worried about proportion, not about recording it’s doggy-ness.’ Here are some bird drawings by my niece Zoe. I hope she never gets taught how to draw!
I’ve also enjoyed some of the stories in Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down , Rock n Roll War Stories by Allan Jones. There are some laugh out loud anecdotes in the book if you can remember that era (I was at the Knebworth concert in 1974 that he writes about), not that I remember much but as they say if you can remember it you weren’t there.
I thought there would be some celebrities with COPD from that era but there are very few, if any, rock n’ rollers. Amy Winehouse was diagnosed with emphysema and I wonder if like Amy it was the alcohol and drugs that did for people first. In fact there are remarkably few celebrities of any sort, publicly at least, given the US’s 12 million and counting COPDers.
Apart from reading i've been watching the documentary Watching Wild Wild West about the Bhagwan Shreerajneesh ashram. I knew some Sanyasins in north London a few years ago who had been part of that. They didn’t seem to have changed much since then. I am not at all sure that the free love thing did anyone any good really, it just seemed part of some general lack of boundaries around anything although I suppose if you were there you’d have been desperate to break free from the conventionality of the 50's. But you still have to follow the rules whether it’s the no-rule rule you think is freeing you up or the one you think you’re escaping. Then all the women were exposed to #metoo a price paid I think for sexual liberation. Probably crudely painting myself into prude’s corner here. I stopped watching after 3 or so episodes as I lost interest when it became more about the battle with the local community when the cult moved to Oregon, than about the individuals who joined it.
Blood is Thicker Than Water on All 4 is a dark Scandi thriller that takes until the second episode to get going but is now surfacing some troubled family action. Too much to watch though, what with The Split on BBC 1 and now Safe on Netflix.
All helps to take my mind off the negative things though. I've been getting horrible side effects from the Azithromycin I'm taking (for prophylaxis against chest infection), including tendonitis in my achilles - although no hard evidence it's caused that there is some 'association' and difficult to think how else I could have got it - and loss of taste so that my already miserable appetite is made worse by everything tasting of cardboard. As I was writing this my GP surgery called to say Papworth had called them to tell me to stop taking it...... why not call me?! Too late for today's dose unfortunately. More on that story next week then......
Meanwhile I'll hope to get some taste back and enjoy some food over the bank holiday.