Friday, August 30, 2013
Iain M Banks was pretty much my favourite SF author these days. So I was sad to hear of his illness a few months ago. I read one of his non-SF books (written under the name Iain Banks in case you're not up on that detail), The Bridge. I really didn't like it, but persevered to the end in case it got better. It didn't. I started another one, I forget which, and abandoned it.
I bought The Quarry, a non-SF book, as a tribute to him, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it. The main character's father is dying of cancer and so I couldn't help but read it with the assumption that he knew he was dying as he wrote it. Indeed when I researched it I found out that this appeared to be true (via Wikipedia).
I'm not really good at book reviews, so go follow the links above to get an idea what it's about. There's strong language and philosophising but I think you'll find it will make you think.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
When I was around ten years old I went on a holiday that was so great that I was really sad when I got home. After that I was determined never to be so sad again. As time goes by previous holidays are beginning to fade into a kind of blur. What is getting better though is that I am getting better at pacing my expectations of the way the holiday goes.
There are three phases to the holiday.
1. Wind-downThis is where you gradually wind-down from the normal pace of life. This really can’t happen until you’ve had at least 24 hours somewhere, so you can get used to the rhythms and routines of your holiday destination. If you’re like me you may find yourself worrying and checking to see how wound down you are. Of course, getting wound up about winding down is self-defeating.
As well as getting used to your location there may also be getting used to the people you are spending holiday with. They may be your nuclear family who you see at evenings and weekends, or it may be extended family or friends. In either case the normal dynamics of the relationships are going to be tested by being with each other most of the day. This first phase is where this shakes down, and you discover more about each other.With the nuclear family, the fact that you were away together a year ago is no guarantee that things will be the same this year as everyone has been changing, particularly with the children.
2. Halcyon daysEventually you will have wound down as much as you are probably going to and so the days stretch out.If you’re not even thinking much about the fact you’re on holiday then you’re doing well.
You may wish that life were always like this, but think what it would be like if it really were. The shortcomings of the place you’re staying at would really make themselves felt. You can put up with a lumpy bed for a week, but after a month you would really want to buy a new one.
Once you’d visited all the places nearby, poked around all the ruins and museums, toddled round all the shops there would be nothing else to do but to hang around your holiday accommodation where there is in fact probably not that much to do. The local TV may be in a language you don’t understand that well. You’d have read all of the non-cheesy paperbacks and couldn’t really face the rest. You wouldn’t really want that.
So just don’t think about it.