Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The life unswum

Finding an activity which replaces the two vital elements of length swimming – exercise, zen-like absorption – was never going to be easy. And while I appreciated the sympathy and the suggestions I received I was never in the market for a transformed way of life. Immersed in the late autumn, if not the mid-winter, of my expectations, I devote my day predominantly to writing.

Pro. tem I am back on the exercise bike in the shed, surrounded – ironically – by garden tools. Pure drudgery but it’s over quickly. However, drudgery erodes the mind and some divertissement is necessary. In the past music from the MP3 player worked but now I’m not so sure. Perspiration interrupts continuity. HHB has suggested downloading Melvyn Bragg’s radio programme and I’ll look into that.

As an alternative I have acquired an unabridged audio of “Ulysses” (22 CDs, £85) and a portable player (£10.50) - glad to see the two items correctly valued. But there’s a snag. The tracks are 6 – 7 min. long and the player has no facility for resuming where I break off.

Trying to resolve this I downloaded all 22 CDs to the MP3 player only to discover it “shuffles” the tracks. Many would say how could I tell the difference with Joyce but I’ve read the book three times and I don’t approve of Molly turning up in the Castle of the Winds. The lost ripples of the South Wye Leisure Centre continue to plague me.

Novel progress 10/4/10. Ch. 19: 3016 words. Chs. 1 - 18: 82,369 words. Comments: Hatch and Clare - a conversation starts, continues, ends (for now).

Strong in the leg, weak in the head

It could have been just up my street – a three-part TV series about a Scot who cycled from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentine, climbing on foot the two highest points en route, Mt McKinley and Mt Aconcagua. But by the end I was gibbering.

For one thing he whinged: at the uphills, at the rain, at the wind, at food poisoning, at fatigue. Hey, he’d chosen to do this; it wasn’t my fault. Worse was his commentary. Cycling offers time to prepare the mind, yet he’d have been bereft without “incredible”. He said “This is the most remarkable/impressive/overwhelming sight I’ve seen.” about a dozen times. And at least thrice uttered the traveller’s ultimate indiscretion “indescribable”.

All adventurers looking for a wide audience should be forced to read Eric Newby’s “A short walk in the Hindu Kush” and thereafter practise self-mockery and minimalisation of hardship

WHEREAS… Why should I, an unreconstructed atheist, be glued to another three-parter called “Sacred music”? Well the subject was slightly off the beaten track (it’s not the first thing one associates with Brahms and Bruckner), it was sung a capella by a choir of angels (The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers) and it was anchored by someone who had got his tongue in gear, Britain’s greatest actor, Simon Russell Beale. He speaks with quiet urgency and has the ability to be transfixed by beauty. Don’t take my word: Harry let him sing along with the choir. Simon should buy a bike.