Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I haven't done a random post for a while, so here are a few of the things jostling about in my head.
1. As I hit serious middle age, I keep wanting to make lists of the things life has taught me. The list usually goes:
A. Things are rarely as bad as they seem.
B. Er, that's it.
Today I remembered one more tiny truth I do know. It is: it is always better to say the thing. You see that I am a perfect Socrates. It's like poetry, isn't it?
What I mean is the thing you are hugging to your chest, because you are slightly ashamed or embarrassed or you don't want to make a fuss or bore people or bang on or be self-indulgent. It's what the old friends and good family are there for. Once you tell the thing, it is out, and when spoken aloud it is never quite as awful as you thought. This is my theory. It might need a little more work.
2. My favourite small political fact of the week:
Apparently everyone is very cross and disappointed with Mr William Hague for not having enough foreign policy. Clearly, some of the critics are longing for the good old days of Palmerstonian gunboat diplomacy. Although I do see that it might be nice to have a bit of policy, when it comes to Abroad. But my favourite part of this story is that the grumblers are complaining that the Foreign Secretary spends most of his time correcting diplomats' grammar. I don't have very strong feelings about William Hague, but this tiny fact makes me rather love him. I have a wonderful picture of him sitting in the Foreign Office going mad over dangling modifiers.
3. The library row rumbles on. A fellow was on the radio today saying that we don't need libraries because we have Kindles. I was reluctant to embrace e-books, but I do have the Kindle now for my iPad, and I see that the electronic book may live quite happily along with its papery sister. What I did not know, and what has quite shocked me, is that e-books are very expensive. I suppose as a writer who lives on royalties I should feel pleased about this, but I find it quite wrong that an ephemeral electronic download should cost as much as a physical object. The second thing which is very disappointing is that the variety of books available for the Kindle is excessively limited. At the moment, it seems to consist almost entirely of crime procedurals. The e-book revolution is going to have to go a long way before it can compete with the palace that is a public library.
4. Odd statement of the week:
'You've got to have action, not just words and mouth.' This was the Shadow Chancellor, on The World At One. I did not know 'words and mouth' was an idiom. I can't decide whether I shall adopt it, or not. Not sure if I shall be saying to people: oh look at you, with your words and mouth.
5. For my perfect combination of a Good News Story and proof that the Young People of today are not all a bunch of celebrity-obsessed idiots, click here. When I was nineteen, I was flirting with rowers, listening to too much Leonard Cohen, and obsessing about the Napoleonic Wars; the boy in this story is preventing his comrades from being blown up with bombs.
6. And talking of good news, here is my headline of the day: HERO GRAN STOPS THIEF. A gang of six men was busy robbing a jewellery shop in Northampton, using a sledgehammer to smash in the windows. The jewellers locked the door and hid. Members of the public stood by, until, from across the road, a seventy-something lady in a bright red coat came running. She lifted up her huge black handbag and started whacking the thieves about the head with it until they ran away. So that's felons with sledgehammer - nil; granny with handbag - one. Don't mess with the Hero Grans. Fabulous video footage here.
7. For various reasons, I am thinking today of Shakespeare. I think of all the famous speeches; of the quintessence of dust, the gentlemen of England now abed, the poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage. Sometimes, though, I only need one mere line, like this one:
Oh, excellent. I love long life better than figs.
I'm not sure why. It's something about the juxtaposition of life and figs. It's the very sound of the word figs in the mouth. It's genius, that's all.
Now for the pictures. It was another drack day, but the trees looked like clouds:
Then there were the bare trees:
The old trees:
And the hill, barely visible against the slate sky: