Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just A Number

According to one of the results of my medical on Tuesday my metabolic age, whatever that might mean, is 35. That's a very cheerful number indeed, especially in relation to my real age, which is, shall we say, somewhat in advance of that. And, indeed, advanced even further today.

Fortunately in this household we know how to celebrate even those numbers one might rather forget.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Bit Much

I reckon I've got, at a conservative estimate, about 16 hours worth of material for my talk on His Bobness due next week. It'll be a bit of a problem fitting it into the 60 minutes I think they've given me. Time for a bit of austerity, a quality the Greatest Living American generally has a problem with. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Not So Much

Attended a health screening today, and am hoping for good results in the fullness of time. But one result is in already. Somewhere along the way over the last couple of years I've lost one centimetre in height. Hope this isn't the beginning of a major trend.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Just A Little

No man only needs a little salary - thus Charley in the Requiem segment at the end of Miller's Death of a Salesman. He's replying to Linda's mournful observation on her dead husband: He only needed a little salary. He was even finished with the dentist.

I'd completely forgotten Charley's line until today when I was glancing through the play having just marked a few essays referring to it. Not sure I ever really noticed the brilliance of his supremely sardonic observation before. Isn't it astonishing just how deeply Miller saw into and through the bleak illusions of capitalism?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Book As Object

I've abandoned all thoughts of getting one of those e-reader devices, like a Kindle, despite the in many ways attractive logic of having one. This leaves me with a big headache with regard to storage space for real books, but I think that problem can be solved. Basically I'm thinking of giving some books away, freeing them to the world, and also we rent storage space anyway since moving into Hall and I might just start making greater use of that space. Not that my accumulated stock of books is growing at any speed given the fact that I read so little. That's part of the reason why I don't think I need to consider moving into the e-reader field.

But the real reason is a brutally simple one: I like the feel of books. The whole sensory thing I've come to realise is part of the pleasure of reading for me (that pleasure being the reason I read, by the way, in case you thought I might have nobler motives.) The more I think about it, this is a disturbing thing to admit to, and entirely irrational. But, what the heck, it's true so let's just accept it and get on with doing the reading.

Funnily enough this truth came home to me quite forcibly in my recent purchase of Joe Hill's excellent The Fireman. (Now about a third of the way in and as complete a fan of the son as I am of the father.) There were two editions available in the bookshop and I went for the cheaper looking, more American-looking paperback, a bit like one of those old cheapo cheapo Signet editions of the classics, though I think the editions were the same price. Somehow this kind of paperback is just right for unpretentious genre fiction - and when you realise the level of writing is as 'literary' as that of the stuff you're supposed to find more respectable that just adds to the pleasure in some weird way.

Anyway, I'm off to cuddle up with that particularly good book, so it's goodnight for now.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


When I arrived at the wake for Aloy's dad last night there was a group saying prayers for the dead. I sat with some of my colleagues from work, also there to pay their respects, as the prayers went on for quite some time. It was a Catholic chapel we were in and for some reason the repetition of the Hail Marys somehow stood out for me. I realised that it had been years since I'd heard the prayer, or at least found myself paying such attention to it. (I suppose it must have said at Mum's funeral, but I really don't remember it, or any of the prayers said then, even though I was struck by the symbolic beauty of the service.)

Thinking about the prayer afterwards it struck me that in its own way it was probably my favourite prayer as a kid, not that one really thought in such terms. We used to have to chant it in Latin, along with the Pater Noster and Agnus Dei (I think), before each lesson in Xaverian College - up to Sixth Form, that is. Can't remember if it remained the practice then. Even the mindless (and generally super-quick) repetition didn't diminish its oddly comforting magic.

I felt some of that yesterday, a recognition of both the beauty and oddness of the prayer. I suppose that's something true of all religious observance of all religions, to those who are sympathetic to this area of human experience. Must say, I feel a kind of quizzical sympathy thinking of those who find themselves unable to respond so.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Getting Around

Found myself having to use a fair amount of public transport in the late afternoon and evening today. I'd been involved in taking some students to the Aquatic Centre near the new Sports Hub in the afternoon and whilst we had a bus to take us there we had to find our own way back. Then I needed to attend the wake for Aloy's dad who passed away late yesterday. Since Noi needed to use the car to attend a class at the mosque - and for that reason wasn't able to make it to the wake - I needed to find a way there and back.

Fortunately public transport is extremely well-organised on this island, despite folks' grumbles about it, and it turned out to be quite easy to find my way around. There's something strangely intense about being the only person at a bus-stop in what feels like the middle of nowhere, but is always the middle of somewhere, waiting for the last bus to rouse itself to arrive. (It's never actually the last bus, of course; it just feels that way.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Good Riddance

It says little for my character that I've taken some little pleasure today over the news that the egregious Bill O'Reilly has lost his job at Fox News (for what seem to me excellent reasons.) I can't honestly say I've wasted too much of my life watching him on the box, but even for the short periods I've seen him perform it's not been that difficult to figure out he's a first rate example of a bully (amongst other unpleasant characteristics, but I don't intend to waste time going there.)

There's a lovely moment in an interview he did with The Dawk himself when our favourite gnu atheist gloriously deflates the bully simply by pointing out he doesn't like being shouted at - and that he's been warned ahead of the interview that this is the bully's predictable strategy. Would that other 'guests' who in any way disagreed with O'Reilly's worldview had been primed to respond in the same fashion. He would have gone down in flames every time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Like Father, Like Son

Just started Joe Hill's The Fireman. Excellent opening, promising a nice chunky read. Was reminded of early Stephen King, which is not surprising since Mr Hill is the son of the horrormeister. He seems to have inherited his dad's particular talents - a very cheerful thought indeed.

Made me think of Tony reading The Stand all those years ago and falling completely under the spell of the story. Wish he was around to make the acquaintance of The Fireman. He'd have loved it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Put the weekend pain behind me & got back to the gym this evening. It felt good to be moving freely again, but my enjoyment was somewhat qualified by finding myself going through the motions on the elliptical thingy next to a young lady on the treadmill adjacent. The heavy breathing routine I endure these days is a bit embarrassing with someone listening. But it's even worse when that someone is actually reading a book whilst she's working out! Seriously! talk about multi-tasking eh?!

And there's me, struggling just to remember how to breathe.