Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Day in: books and woods, etc
It seems a lifetime ago since I had a day at home. Officially there should be five of those per week, with teaching the other two, but there has not been much sign of free days recently. Suddenly there was time and I felt quite lost what to do with it, if only because tomorrow there won't be much time (recording a programme for RTE, going to Cambridge and reading), nor entirely the day after. For those people working in full time salaried jobs this will seem nothing to complain about but I don't do much 'rest' as such, nor do I do 9 - 5. Day begins about 7am and goes on till about 11pm generally. Feeling suddenly swamped by time I began to write a new article for The Drawbridge but not much else.
The cold has lifted to be replaced by mugginess drowsy with faint promises of rain. More books in the post. Not content with that I went out and bought some more: Crow Country by Mark Cocker, Wildwood by Roger Deakin and Rose Tremain's The Road Home. I have read most of Rose's books and think she is one of the best novelists in England.
I bought the books partly to cheer up Robert who runs the little independent bookshop in the arcade, he and his wife drawing no salary from it. He was a bit low because Christmas trade hadn't materialised. 'Not yet,' I said. 'They're probably snapping up the half-price white goods in Comet.' Roger is a retired businessman who could not afford to run the shop if he didn't have savings. He regrets having to sell what he calls 'chewing gum books' though even in those he is well undercut by the supermarkets. The town has more than its fair share of intelligent people but it isn't a bohemian hub thirsty for high lit. Which accounts for Robert having but one copy of the New and Collected, and there is no certainty he'll sell that, though the regional newspaper is doing a double spread about it on Friday. I showed Robert the John Sears book and could see him internally sighing. 'It will be read by people with glasses and beards,' I assured him, noting his glasses and beard.
As for Crow Country and Wildwood they are earnests of good intentions. I know something about birds but very little about the trees they sit on. Not for lack of willing, I should add, but nature - if that is what it is - or culture (more likely) did not have me down as one of the woodcraft folk. Beyond silver birch, weeping willow and oak and, OK, a fir or pine, trees have been the film extras on some endless Cecil B De Mille movie for me. Look! Is that Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane?
Yes, er, possibly.