It's been a while since I've posted here and I have been neglecting my other blogs as well. I've had a lot to say, just not sure that it would be particularly interesting. I am never quite sure whether I can write what the hell I like on here and not care whether it interests anyone else or not or whether I should tailor my posts to saying something remotely thoughtful and intelligent. I suppose this is my space and my blog, so I can say what I like, as long as I don't offend anyone, which I would never be minded to do (at least not intentionally).
The last few weeks seem to have gone very quickly and no doubt that is in part due to the fact that I've had lots to do. I had a pleasant few days in Portsmouth with my parents at the end of February. I always go back to see them for my birthday, there doesn't seem much point being here on my own. Although to be honest as I get older birthday's seem to mean less and less and gradually become less significant. I suppose I will feel different when I reach 40 or some other notable milestone.
After a quick break in Portsmouth I was in Coventry at the beginning of March, volunteering at Collectormania Midlands. The set-up on the Friday was a real killer - I don't think I've ever ached so much in my life! Heaving tables and chairs around all day certainly took it out of me but it was fun and great to see the transformation from a barren exhibition hall into something that looked like a convention. I stayed over in Nuneaton with Derek & Carla and they looked after me well, as always and introduced me to Flight of the Concordes, which was very funny and ever so strange but something I'd like to see more of. Unfortunately by Friday evening I was very tired, so probably wasn't the best of company.
Saturday I was working at the convention again in the afternoon. This was my first taste of doing a show in five years - the last one was Collectormania 3 in Milton Keynes. A lot has changed in that time. More bureaucracy, more rules and so many names to remember!
This weekend just gone I was helping at Collectormania Manchester, so another few days away from MK. This time I didn't get involved with the set-up and as it happened had a free afternoon to explore Manchester. I helped at the show on both Saturday and Sunday, doing all sorts, from taking tickets as people came in to handing out flyers for the show in the city centre. That was not fun! Still, I did enjoy myself overall and for the first time in a long while I felt like I was doing something useful and productive.
Earlier on I decided to reorganise my bookshelves as I was getting annoyed with the fact that I had novels in different places and some mixed with reference books. I am terribly fastidious about having books arranged in a certain way, fiction organised alphabetically and any non-fiction organised into categories or subjects. Perhaps I have a secret wish to be a librarian, I don't know but I even find myself in the library or a bookshop sometimes rearranging books that are out of place! How sad is that, lol!
I finished reading a rather good book at the end of last week - Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann. I was encouraged to buy this after the book was reviewed and chosen as one of the Richard & Judy book club selections. It is a rather good story, perhaps not the sort of book that I would have chosen myself had I not seen it on the TV. The novel is about two men from very different times - Leo Deakin and Moritz Daniecki - both of whom are embarking on epic personal journeys in which they are sustained by the memory of love. For Deakin, it is a journey through the terrible grief and guilt that threatens to destroy him following the death of his girlfriend in a tragic accident in South America, whilst for Daniecki, he is taking an epic journey from a PoW camp in Siberia to Europe to be reunited with his sweetheart, who he has not seen since the outbreak of war. What impresses is the way Scheinmann has drawn his characters, such that they are easy to relate too and like and while I have no experience of love in the way that both Deakin and Danieki have, I found it very powerful and moving. The ending is superb and quite unexpected, a really great read.
Now, I am reading If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. I am sure I will have mentioned this in my blog before, because this is one of my favourite books and is so familiar now that it feels like an old friend. What draws me back, is the discovery of something new each time I read it. Points of the narrative or characters come to the fore more than they did before or I pick up on things that I've not considered or missed previously. It is a wonderful novel, beautiful and melancholy, always building towards a tragic and moving ending.
Almost all the characters in McGregor's novel are anonymous although this does not stop me from warming to two in particular - the old couple that live upstairs at number twenty. Their story is achingly sad and so beautifully told. The old man is keeping a terrible secret from his wife and it is part of what is at the heart of this novel, that everything important between them is unstated and unsayable. The ordinary things, which in McGregor's hands takes on the sense of being remarkable, that the characters cannot articulate.
McGregor, who is the same age as me, writes with a mature voice and experience of the world that surely must be far beyond his years. His style is very unusual, reading more like poetry than straight prose and completely absent of dialogue in the conventional sense. He seems in love with the anonymous city and the characters in this novel and that is what draws me in. It is a strange, melancholic experience.