“I’m pretty sure they’ve invented the internal combustion engine here?” says Mme. Roux.
They have. It was one of the first things I noticed on arriving, and it’s still to be seen whizzing by on the road deep in the valley far below my window. But I do not drive, and I like to walk, which is a bloody lucky since it’s a six mile round trip to and from town. And I had to go and pick up more medicines from my local apothecary in order to stave off another entry following the theme of ‘ow, gout’. It’s best walked for before such times, else I cannot walk at all. So because I cannot stand to see a minute wasted then in between single-parenthood (Iceland insist on my visiting them to load up on blue pop, Walls balls, and pies that are no better for being frozen – they are about to be as disappointed by the frequency of my visits as I would be by their faux-sausages), constant work, projects, drawing, painting and redecorating a whole house I also walk again. And to be fair I’ve lost over two stone in two months. The secret is nothing so much as literature.
Talky literature anyway.
I also read a lot. I sleep reluctantly; it’s such a waste isn’t it?
I like audio books. I especially like them when walking. Because you want to walk further to get to the next bit. And because if you get them from the library you end up hearing a lot of stories you’d never pick up, or if you would probably not by immediate choice. It’s a bit like being a member of a book club, which I now am, only the choices tend to bear out. So it’s the Devil’s Punchbowl right now, before that the second of Roald Dahl’s autobiography, before that the possibly ill-chosen Man and Wife by Tony Parsons, before that... and so on. Six miles, then a bit more, so that you can do both discs you’ve ripped onto the MP3. Two discs only because that way even when you get home from the regulation six miles you end up walking further to get to the end of the disc. I went round the block in the village four times the other week just to find out if Dahl managed to land his Hurricane.
I read, when I read properly, quickly. Audio books mean that I can’t scan it in big blocks and probably appreciate it more. But I can’t just sit and listen, so I walk. Or the other way around. Either way. And my mind still wanders. Such as today when I was thinking about today’s entry and it being inevitably about Michael Winner, and trying to think of something nice to say about him. All I could come up with was that he directed the excellent 1980s film Gothic. Gothic where Byron, the Shelley’s and Barrie take laudanum and conceive the classics of the genre at Villa Diodati. Written by Stephen Volk who more recently said very nice things about my award-winning short Nice One. Truly. By the by. Which had also had a contract signed and the piece recorded as an audio version, just before the company when tits up.
So Michael Winner wasn’t all bad, he directed Gothic.
Except that was Ken Russell.
I’d have remembered that if I’d gone with the audio version.