Where have I been all these months? Three months of silence are broken by a fully formed record review, which when posted to a music group of the Internet is followed by two separate people asking to repost the review to other music groups.
I've been hiding, I suppose: hibernation in the summer. I had a few health problems with both my legs (though not at the same time) which conspired to reduce my walking ability and taint my outlook on life whilst not being a major nor even minor threat to my general health. As usual, the Israeli summer was hot, hot, hot, and for a time my office premises weren't air conditioned, causing a severe drop in productivity after 2pm. No surprise that I would often clock in by 6:30am in order to get some work done in the cool and quiet. My brain works best in the mornings.
There have been books. There is a new Peter Robinson novel ("All the colours of darkness") which started out good but seemed to get sidetracked midway through. The ending had a good twist but seemed very out of place. After finishing the book, I realised that there was a similarity to the final Rebus book ("Exit music"): in both cases the detectives assume/believe that there is a much more murky story behind a murder than there really is, and spend the duration of the book chasing that belief only to find more mundane reasons.
Even better: there is a new David Lodge book entitled "Deaf sentence". As usual, this is about an academic, but this time he's retired so it's not exactly a campus novel. The academic (as is the author) is suffering from deafness, thus the pun in the title. Whilst the first third of the book is very entertaining, the final third turns to the sober side of life (or death, or deaf). Comedy has always been part of Lodge's work, illuminating and contrasting the dark places which his latter day heroes find themselves, but this time there is little comedy which can alleviate the final painful pages.
On the lighter side of life, I enjoyed romping through Keith Lowe's "Tunnel vision" which is about a young man having to visit each of London's 230+ stations in one day in order to win a bet which includes his credit card, passport and Eurostar ticket - for he's to be married the following day. There's nothing like a deadline to ensure drama, and this book has a very strict deadline. Maybe it's a bit too nerdy, maybe the characterisation of the bride is a little thin, but I very much enjoyed the book.
There's a passage in the opening pages of the book which reminded me of myself when I was a young teenager and came to spend a week with a friend in London:
If I had to put my finger on something, I'd say it was probably the map that first grabbed my attention. It was so complicated, so detailed and yet so ordered. When I was nine or ten years old I used to study that map until I could recite it, line by line. I discovered beautiful places with lovely sounding rural names, and in the absence of any idea about what such places looked like, I allowed my imagination to fill in the gaps. As far as I was concerned, Covent Garden probably had pretty amazing flower beds, and Shepherd's Bush was ... well, a bush owned by a shepherd. There was a farm at Chalk Farm, acres of unspoiled forest at St John's Wood, and a friendly family from Zurich who lived down in Swiss Cottage. There was also a place called White City, which I decided must be somewhere out of the Bible, a sort of heavenly Jerusalem. That was where the Angel would go on weekends when he got fed up with Islington. Or maybe it was a place where only white people were allowed, like buses in South Africa - I found myself feeling angry that despite being obviously holy me, the Blackfriars wouldn't be allowed in.
At the age of thirteen, I wasn't quite so callow, but even so the place names, especially those in rural Essex or Middlesex, could inspire my imagination.