'tis the spirit to be...

...helpful*, it seems.

As a cyclist, 4x4s - especially those driven in-city by blondes and tanned lads** - are the bane of my travel-life. As are trucks. And vans. And buses. Sportscars. Food-delivery scooters. Pedestrians. The bloody local council that won't add enough grit to the edge of the frikkin' hello-there's-been-frikkin'-ice-here-for-three-days-now road. Sportsbikes. Pigeons***.

But 4x4s in particular. I'd scrape my handlebars across the side of each and every one of them if it weren't for the fact that I was so bloody noticeable in my reflective gear and I trust them whole-heartedly to hunt me down and shunt me onto the pavement.

And just because they're occasionally useful **** doesn't mean I think any better of them. PR job, I say.

* For a moment there, you thought I was going to relent and go 'jolly' didn't you? As if.
** And yes, it's always blondes and tanned men. I'd know - I make sure I have a clear view before I start throwing rocks at them*****.
*** Fat, stupid birds. It's a wonder people haven't dropped turkey in favour of roast pigeon for Christmas dinner.
**** It's been snowing here a bit. Four inches and this country shuts down. It's like Bombay's Harbour line trains during October showers.
***** Not really (see above about being hunted), but fantasies are meant for being fantasised about.


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

n., Trying and utterly failing to soothe an old, blind, almost-deaf dog who spends the last few hours of his life yipping away because of you-dont-know-what (before he finally decides to chuck it all - softly, unnoticed - and head for that roomful of unguarded slippers* he dreams about).

See also:

Ruined weekend


Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Till You Did #67

You don't get to see billiards* on TV much anymore. If at all.

When some kid looks blankly at you while you're talking about how fast-paced life has become, point that out. And if they start talking about pool and snooker, smack them with the cue-stick.

* Three-ball or English billiards.


Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

There are days when I feel low about the state I find my life in. Whenever that happens, I tend to go read just one paragraph* to make me appreciate what I have.

"A lot of good things had happened that day. He hadn't been thrown in the hole. The gang hadn't been dragged off to Sotsgorodok. He'd swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime. The foreman had got a good rate for the job. He'd enjoyed working on the wall. He hadn't been caught with the blade at the search point. He'd earned a favour from Tsezar that evening. And he'd bought his tobacco.

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell".

- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

* sure, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of excerpts from other books that could be said to be more potent, more evocative, and more graphic about human suffering. But the sheer simplicity and clarity of this one, and the way in which it brought down everything to a few simple, basic requirements hit my 15-year old cocky self like no Gogol or Dickens or anybody else ever had. And that initial impact has been hard to shake off.


A "really-should-stick-to-promises" post

So, backstory.

Firstly, Joyce. And that book.

This is an update of no update. And just to make it clear how much of a non-update it is, this post is a redraft of a draft that was first made six weeks ago.

I did not read an additional page since the last post on it. I blame the man, and I blame Suketu.

See, after two years of owning this book, and forgetting to pack it every time I went home (or choosing to, rather - because really, why would I be carrying more books back here?), I finally got round to getting hold of a copy from the local library. And I couldn't help but drop everything else to finish it off first. Not that it's perfect (nowhere close), but the book reinforced a lot of things I've grown to accept and be scared of. More on that later.

And when I returned to Joyce, after revisiting so much...reality, his book felt so....silly. Pretentious. All look-at-me-I'm-so-much-smarter-and-have-you-got-all-the-references smugly superior. And yes, I'm impressed by the dedication and imagination it took. And I'm sure I'd appreciate it more if it was taken apart bit by bit in a critical review class.

But that's the point. Books are meant to educate, enlighten, entertain, comfort, and challenge. By themselves. Not by having to be taught.

I'm quite willing to tackle difficult books, drive-you-crazy books (oh, Something Happened!, how you still haunt my dreams), books that take ages to get through because you have to re-read every page to absorb its meaning.

And while this was a challenge, with every page it felt more as if he did not really want you to win.

It was as if he was thinking - Well, first now that I've got this awesome underlying concept (which nobody would realise unless it was pointed out to them), let me throw in all these random religious and linguistic references just to make sure they sit with four other books to understand it. And then - oh boy - then let me write it so crazily that they'll call me a genius for fear of appearing stupid.

Which is all fine. But you know what? I don't have to put up with it. I'm not going to be implicitly sneered at just because they didn't teach Latin when I was at school and my arse wasn't walloped by fervent Catholic priests who hated the weather of the place they lived in.

So, if you were still interested, Chapter 3 was where it ended. I just got bored.

That said - 'likelily'. Such a lovely word. He's absolved for that.


I use too many .... (just had a 30-second blankout trying to remember the word)...brackets. Apropos of nothing.