Thursday, 13 January 2011

Oh No It Isn't

Well it WAS the pantomime season.

I am sitting in the library at The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews on the afternoon of 31st December when I notice the hotel lobby starting to fill with guests returning from the chapel where the wedding of golfer Nick Dougherty and TV presenter Di Stewart has just been held. I nudge Marion and say "Don't stare but you'll never guess who just walked in." Marion looks up and asks "Who I am I supposed to be looking for?". "It's Prince Harry" I say in hushed tones. "Where?" says Marion. "There by the lift". "Hm" she says. "It looks a bit like him but that's not him." "Course it's him" I say "I'm sure". Marion rolls her eyes and gives daughter Sarah and her partner Duncan one of those "Your Dad eh. What's he like? Prince Harry indeed." looks and carries on drinking her cup of tea. I accept my fallibility and, munching my biscuit, mutter "Well I thought it looked like him."

Almost two weeks later my friend Dave Haworth comes to visit and during our conversation I mention the Old Course Hotel and the fantastic New Year's Eve wedding fireworks. I can't remember the name of the bride so I Google it and what comes up? DAILY RECORD EXCLUSIVE Jan 7th "Prince Harry and Zara Phillips (didn't spot her)partied in St Andrews as Sky Sports Glamour Girl Di Stewart wed golfer Nick Dougherty". Just think. they got their exclusive on 7th January, I could have notified the paparazzi on 31st December and earned myself a few quid (not that I would have done of course) but I'm just a daft old bloke who wouldn't know Prince Harry if he tripped over him in a hotel lobby.

Isn't the world of technology brilliant? Living over two hundred miles away from our daughter we aren't able to be as involved in her preparations for her first child as we would like but yesterday I got an email with this file attached and we are able to listen to our first grandchild's foetal heart beat. Amazing. Marion says that a fast heartbeat suggests a girl but we'll have to wait and see.

As the hip recovers, the time stuck in a chair declines and the post op readathon that I promised myself has had to slow down. I have managed to read these three books over the past week and enjoyed all three immensely. (I really will have to get a bit more picky as I only seem to write gushing reviews of everything I read). Hector And The Search For Happiness is a fascinatingly simple little book that is something of a collection of fables for our time. It tells of a young psychiatrist's journey around the world to discover the secret of what makes people happy. Despite its simplicity it is actually extremely perceptive in the conclusions that it draws and it makes a very enjoyable and speedy read.As a glass half full sort of person it was the perfect pick me up although there are very few times when I need to search for happiness.

Encouraged by @meandmybigmouth on Twitter to spend some time on short stories (see blog links over there on the right), I read Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness and Kazuro Ishiguro's Nocturnes. I suppose the cover should have given me a hint that Too Much Happiness was not going to feature in that book. It's a beautifully written series of stories that dwell on death and tragedy but it certainly isn't one to cheer you up on a miserable day. On the other hand I imagined for some reason that Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes was going to be intellectually challenging (no idea why probably just the Japanese name) whereas it turned out to be a delightful series of stories about love and relationships all with a musical background. These stories, without pretension and stripped to the bone in simplicity are a pleasure to read and each 30 page story manages to build characters and plot to a level you wouldn't always find in a whole novel. Quite brilliant. Only now that I have read this book do I remember seeing Ishiguro getting his honorary degree at St Andrews on the day that Sarah got one of hers (it really is the place to go to spot celebrities). I will certainly be reading more of his work.

Staying with the Scottish theme I'll finish today with a Caledonian bloke who wanted to clear the snow and ice off his satellite cable .