This is going to be a little ramble through various things that come to mind. Because sometimes a bit of variety among the book reviews is… well, different anyway.
I’ve bought my final book for 2017, everyone. It’s shipping from the US, so may not come for quite a while – but it’s a study of E.M. Delafield published a few decades ago, but which I either didn’t know or (more likely) had forgotten existed. As soon as I heard about it, I thought that was worth of being my last choice – I wanted to go out with a bang – but now I have to wait for a month before buying any more. (I’ll post my whole list of 24 at some point before the end of 2017.)
I don’t think I’ll be able to go crazy buying books in 2018, though. I toyed with doing Project 24 again, but have decided that would just be too painful – but I have very little room left for books in my little flat. And I sent 350 to various homes, charity shops etc when I was preparing to move house, so I’m down to BARE BONES (if bare bones is approximately 3000 books, of course. Which it is.) I might be able to squeeze in another bookcase if I don’t want to open the living room door fully ever again.
I’m trying to write my sketch for the village show. The Thomases have usually submitted a sketch to the show since we moved to Somerset in 2005, though I’ve missed a couple years. In that time I’ve played a Sound of Music obsessive, a Scottish cardinal, a Yorkshire vicar, half of Jedward, myself (in a postmodern sketch), a time traveller, a BBC news reader, a Victorian cameraman, and another BBC representative. We take it in turns to write, and I haven’t done one for four or five years, and I’ve discovered that ‘just start writing and see what happens’ might not be an inevitable winner. But it’s my only tactic – it’s going to be a spin on David Attenborough (played, though he hasn’t agreed yet, by Dad) and I haven’t named any of the other characters. Wish us luck.
I’m in London as I write this, preparing for the first of three days of playgoing – first up is the Sondheim musical Follies, with the divine Imelda Staunton – marking the fourth time I’ll have seen her on stage. Thinking about it, there are a few cultural events I’d recommend from recent trips. The film ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ is absolutely brilliant – you won’t see better performances than Annette Bening’s and Jamie Bell’s this year, and they’d better get Oscar nods. (Also interesting to hear the sort of accent I might have had if I hadn’t moved away from Merseyside aged 6.) Do go and see it if you get the chance – but take tissues. Less readily available is Sofie Hagan’s stand-up – but head to see ‘Dead Baby Frog’ if you live near one of the places on the remainder of her UK tour. I saw it in Oxford the other day, at the theatre where I volunteer as an usher, and laughed my head off (though it’s also very moving – don’t worry, I laughed in the right places).
People keep talking about doing their Christmas shopping. I haven’t even thought about it yet. Maybe I should use London as a good opportunity to do some… but, instead, I’ll just do it all in a rush at the last minute, I’m sure. But I am in three separate bookish Secret Santas, and I have done the buying for those – partly because they come early, and partly because it’s easily the most fun sort of shopping to do. Yes, I’ll inevitably buy some books as gifts too, for other people, but for the Secret Santas it feels less like a “oh, Simon bought books, quelle surprise” cop out.
That’s enough of a ramble for now, and will hopefully tide StuckinaBook over until I write something about books again. Will I finish The Women in White by the time I’m supposed to be discussing it on the podcast next week, with 400 pages to go? Who can say. But seldom has a book mention of mine got so many “Oo, I love that!” replies on Instagram – encouraging. So far I am also enjoying it, though may have read too many Victorian books of late (by which I mean this is the fourth). So. Many. Words.