Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The great objection to new books is that they prevent our reading old ones – Joseph Joubert

So, as I warned you, I am now an official Kindler. My Kindle came, I charged it and I filled it. Well, it's not quite full - far from it, indeed - but it's humming along nicely with a selection of poetry, plays, short stories, history and psychology.  And a smattering of music to help me along the way.

It really is very cool. Ignore the fact that it's a solid, cold piece of technology. Just embrace the fact that it carries a whole library within.  And more.  At your disposal at all times.  Which can even be read to you when reading is beyond you. In whatever unimaginable circumstances that may be.

I bought a lovely (burgundy) cover to protect it.  More coolness.  It features a light to help me do the deed should gloom and doom threaten my enjoyment and my eyesight. Seriously folks, you have to consider this thing.

My first real voyage will be a brief and possibly not so exciting affair with work. But it has taken on a whole new hue now that it will afford me my first outing with said Kindle. This is so very exciting. Which tells me much about the state of my own affairs at this present time...

Still, I know that not everyone shares my excitement. I increasingly read articles and comments voiced from across the globe disparaging the emergence and progression of such sinister technology which seeks to devour and destroy physical books. Seriously.

True bibliophiles - and we are many - will never give up the printed word. The book. Touching and smelling and absorbing it.  But lovers of the written word can surely only rejoice that reading is being promoted by these means. 

My own father - a man of few words, fewer of which were ever in writing - has embraced such new technology. He enthused to me recently that he was considering taking up a book he's been tempted to read since childhood.  Since childhood!  Simply because the options now available to him defy and defeat his literary complexes. 
Maybe reading on a screen is less intimidating than reading off the physical page.  Whatever works, methinks. And I believe sincerely that my father, while exceptional, is not the exception.  He may well be the rule in these matters.

A fellow bookworm did, however, underline the limitations of my dear little Kindle. Recounting her summer adventures, she pointed out that the Kindle just would not suit. She had left home with a selection of books to read. Read them. And disposed of them en route.   Lightening her load as she travelled about.  But also providing a wonderful opportunity:  the gap left in her suitcase by the books was exactly the right size to accommodate the new pair of shoes she'd promised herself. Travelling with a Kindle would take away that opportunity.  And the justification.  Indeed.  Life's dilemmas just never end, do they?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought - Arthur Helps

So the Olympics are over.  My little stay-at-home holiday is drawing to an end.  And the summer sun has finally come out to stay.  What on earth will divert my little mind now?

On top of which, I’m still struggling to get back on form and find my pre-January self again.  The frustration is, well, frustrating.  I look fine, I’m almost up and running in my everyday activities, and I thus should be fine.  I’m not.  I try not to think about it.  But I do.  And I’m not.
I have therefore been trying to cheer myself up by throwing myself into guaranteed mirth.  And Saki has been my chosen vessel.  Although it must be said that he can be a tad dark at times and I do wonder at the wisdom of my choice.  But I have persisted.  And have absolutely delighted in his eloquence.
Saki is the master of the short story.  I think I’m stuck in the genre.  But that’s not always a bad thing.  I was actually introduced to him during my A-levels many moons ago. The Open Window was part of a collection of short stories we were studying at the time.  It stayed with me.  The collection I’m now reading confirms it was not a one-off. 
Featuring heavily are animals with colourful characters and youngsters with vivid imaginations, who artfully execute their playful and sometimes horrifying plots. Clovis is a staple character from one story to the next, injecting a particular brand of wit, and undermining all innocence. He is, it must be said, worse than a rogue.  It’s bizarre, and yet somewhat comforting, that he turns up so consistently.  Like the proverbial bad penny.  Bad.
But my endeavours at distracting myself from my wallowing do not end there.  I have to admit that I have finally been buying a Kindle.  I know!  Despite all my former reticence, I am very excited.  It's been somewhat of a process, but I was not to be rushed.  The three versions available required much mulling over, as did the variety of covers in the variety of colours. I finally did it though. It's now purchased but not yet delivered.  Five days and counting.
I have also allowed myself to take a sneak peek at the literary delights available to me now that I've joined the Kindlers.  Therapeutic cyber window shopping.  There is a whole new universe of the written page out there just waiting to eat up my salary.  And at jolly interesting prices too, I might add.  Did I mention that I was excited??  Little things, little minds, and all that. This will not be the last you hear of this...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss - Doug Williams

I woke up this afternoon, after falling asleep with a book on my chest -  yes, I'm ageing before my time - to find that Andy Murray had won a gold medal at the Olympics. Beating Roger Federer no less.  In three stunning sets.

Then, through the post-nap haze, I watched him win a silver medal in the mixed doubles.  Amazing.  Go AM!  Go London 2012!

If I were a poet, I would use these events to inspire me to write beautiful lines in homage to the wonderful displays of human sporting ability.  But I'm not, so I won't.

Indeed, I'm not much of a poetry reader either.  Not for want of trying.  I'm just a tad impatient and possibly slow on the uptake.  It takes me longer than necessary to get the point.   So the enjoyment is minimal and I avoid the effort.  I always wanted to be able to quote poetry to others, to share my delight.  And woo lovers.  I've never succeeded. Except maybe for my A-level.  But that was a whole different deal...

So in my delight at AM's success - and let's face it, not only his - I'm at a loss for classy words.  I can only borrow words from others.  And most inadequately, as I'm sure there are more appropriate ones.  But I borrow from one of the greats, and therefore I can only be apologetic to a degree.

Kipling, in his fabulous poem If noted the following:

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, ...
If you can dream and not make dreams your master...
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more -  you'll be a man, my son!

Rousing stuff, eh?  Don't you just want to get out there and run a marathon?  Take on Usain Bolt?  Andy Murray? In my dreams, of course.  But only the good dreams...