Have been ploughing through a stack of books these past three weeks, as I enjoyed my nano-sabbatical – albeit first two weeks were mainly devoted to a massive decluttering of the house we have lived in for 40 years this year. Pace has accelerated since the Augean tasks began to tail off.
This morning, for example, I finished Ghost Fleet, by P.W. Singer and August Cole, which I had first seen reviewed in The Economist. Took a while to order it in from the States via the Barnes Bookshop. Well worth the wait – it’s stunning. Can’t recommend it highly enough, even though Richard Branson goes missing in a balloon part-way through the book.
Among books I have read have been two short, great ones: The Longest Afternoon (about 400 men who it is argued decided the battle through their defence of the farmhouse at La Haye Sainte), by Brendan Simms, and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (even better than I first read it in my early teens). Passed the last of these on to Gaia when she delivered the car back after a trip to Norfolk.
Also read Waiting for Godot, in the Faber edition of Samuel Beckett’s Complete Dramatic Works, a gift from Sam. Only book I fell out of, 144 pages in, was The Winds of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, but I may well take another crack.
All this reading against the backdrop of wood pigeons tearing into our crab apple tree, though very few of the still-green fruit go into their crops. Most end up on the ground, waiting to be swept into the compost heap.
Have managed a few trips into the city centre, to get new suit(s) and add to the stack of books waiting to be read. Vying for my attention next are Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith, and The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan. Then there is The Lady from Prague, by Philip Kerr, and Don Winslow’s The Cartel.
None of them exactly peaceful, though am also toying with several books that are a little less violent, including The Wright Brothers, by David McCulloch, The Fourth Revolution (on the need to reinvent the state), by John Mickelthwaite and Adrian Wooldridge, Adam Thorpe’s On Silbury Hill and Nikola Tesla’s My Inventions and Other Writings.
Had a nice note from someone this morning who had read Ashlee Vance’s biography on Elon Musk, on my recommendation. The book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, is a great read.
We also made it across to Syon Park yesterday, despite the Volvo’s ignition playing up again, and I was fascinated to see the aerial roots of the cypress trees by the water. These, apparently, are so-called “cypress knees.”
One thing that has been making my bad knee suffer in the past week has been getting to grips with my new Rickenbacker 370 12-string guitar, something I have wanted for over 15 years. Reading that the line was being discontinued, I decided to take the jump – particularly when I found one at what seemed like a significant discount. Much room for improvement in my playing, but great fun.
Not sure I welcomed the break when it was first preferred, but it has been wonderful for heart, soul and environmental tidiness. Have no inclination to slow down any time soon, but this has been a reminder of just how regenerative downtime can be. My thanks to the Volans team for holding the fort in my absence.