22 September 2009

The Book Song

Looking on YouTube for a song about books: how could I even need to look, when there is such a perfect candidate as this? Beautiful. Only a pity that the "video" is just a still of the album cover ...

So, a few reasons for writing about books today. Alexander McCall Smith's new online novel, The Dog Who Came In From The Cold, for one. I'd forgotten the previous one - though we have the bound hardback edition on the shelf now. I am however getting just a bit irritated by the way the chapters are put together, which seems to be a bit formulaic - viz the second para of today's instalment. Amusing, and beautifully written, but by the time we get to chapter 80 these inner monologues are going to be tiresome.

From there, I followed a link to the 20 worst sentences from Dan Brown's oeuvre only to find that they weren't half as bad as I had expected. Many of the selections weren't sentences, either, and most of them failed to illustrate the bad writing of which Mr Brown s accused. I have no wish to read his books, but that's because of the subject matter more than the writing style - ditto Harry Potter, but not Philip Pullman. I just finished reading a The Olive Tree by Carol Drinkwater (see my post about the Oxford Literary Festival back in March) which I enjoyed despite the fact that it was the most over-written book I have read since - well, since the other one of her books that I have read. I would dispute the meanings she appears to intend for some of the more obscure words she uses, too. But I still liked it. The fact that one has met an author gives the books a different dimension, perhaps. If one has been to parties at the author's house, so much the better ... (Pullman, that is, not Drinkwater.)

Alexander McCall Smith writes so elegantly, selecting and using words so beautifully, that it could be a knitting pattern - well, perhaps I exaggerate ... a book on medical ethics? Might be worth trying - it could inspire me in my legal book-writing, as his fictional writings inspire my slow-moving efforts in that area.

Having returned Carol Drinkwater to the bookshelf, I turned to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a work that has rather a lot in common with A McCall
Smith's, although he doesn't write epistolary novels. It is an absolute delight, though there are darker aspects to it as well, superbly written and evoking the post-war period very clearly (at least, in accordance with what I imagine it must have been like).



14 September 2009

Temporary Like Achilles

Cotswold Classic 10 (miles, that is) yesterday. I prepared well, with pasta the evening before and porridge for breakfast, and I armed myself with the energy gell from last week's goodie bag - a high-caffeine one. Even so, as I lined up ("Where's the start?" "I think it's that yellow line across the road") I remarked to James that I never felt as unwilling to run as when I am about to start a race.
Last week had to be consigned to the dustbin of history, so I resolved to keep to a sensible pace. Trish mentioned how I had set off at a cracking pace seven days earlier, and other clubmates agrees, so I asked them to tell me if I was ging stupidly fast. Some hope: I left most of them well behind within the first mile or two.
It's an attractive course, though the "Cotswold" in the name should be ample warning that it will involve hills as well as lovely stone-built villages. I fell in with a lady from the local club (though she lives in London, she told me), who warned me of the ascents and gave me advance notice of the descents, and all was going very nicely at a little under 8 minute miles, until some way after the 8 mile marker, head down, arms pumping, getting up one of the hills on the balls of my feet, my right Achilles tendon issued an unmistakeable warning.
I stopped to give it a good stretch, half-thinking I wouldn't be leaving the company of the two marshalls at whose post I had paused, but (after Trish has passed by) david appeared and I tagged on with him - just like the previous week. But I had to let him go after a short distance, and I stopped to stretch again. A spectator with two young children offered me jelly babies for energy, but that didn't answer my need (even if they had been gelatin-free, which I doubt): the frustrating thing was that I had plenty in the tank, and I'd have been finishing well ahead of those clubmates but for the twinge from just above my ankle.
I did manage to run the last couple of miles, after a fashion, but what should have been an exilerating descent to the finish (discounting the last quarter-mile or so, uphill into a school site and round the playing field) was a disappointment and the final part was an ungainly limp. 1:26:43 wasn't bad, all things considered, but it failed to deliver the uplift I had been banking on. And now I have the prospect of a week or more resting before I can do any more running.
On the other hand ... 16 years ago this event was my first serious race, and in all that time I haven't had a race marred by injury. That's not too bad an injury rate.