I have decided to keep a reading diary. This might be one of my short-lived ventures, like my Chapter One blog posts from a few years ago. I skip through many books, flitting about and then forgetting what I have read, so this is to try and and cement, or at least putty, some of the things I have learnt, into my mind. It will be higgledy-piggedy, lacking even more structure than my stand up shows, so may make little sense should you choose to read it. These are merely some thoughts while reading.
The bath book choices are Brian Viner’s Nice to See it, To see it Nice: The Seventies in Front of the Telly and Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales.
Darryl Cunningham’s simple style is exceptionally potent. I have read this comic book before, but it portrays issues of mental health, from dementia to self-harming with a powerful sense of humanity and empathy. Darryl has been both a mental health nurse and suffered from acute depression. There is something about dementia and the infirmity that may come with old age that seems unbelievable as our possible destiny. Old people can be portrayed and treated as another species, as if in late middle age we will go into a cocoon and then hatch as “a thing that is old”.
Brian Viner’s book starts with Wendy Craig and sudden death. He remembers that moment that watching And Mother Makes Five was disturbed by the arrival of two policemen at the door, come to inform the family that his father had had a heart attack.
Without mining the maudlin, he neatly mixes bereavement and telly watching. He mixes a meeting with John Cleese with a memory of his father’s apoplectic laughter when watching the first series of Fawlty Towers. Dead not long after, he rues how that sudden heart attack robbed his father the chance of experiencing the second series of Fawlty Towers.
I am fortunate to have both parents still living, but lately I have started to think about what TV experiences will act as gut punch reminders of my father if I outlive him. Good-Bye Mr Chips, A Matter of Life and Death, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Rumpole of the Bailey will all hold memories of cultural comradeship.
I started my multiple train journey to Leicester with latest issue of Delayed Gratification, a magazine that allows the news to settle before analysing it. Ian Hislop wrote about the hacking trial, concluding that, on the basis of the verdict, the jury had decided, “one of them was a criminal and the other one was an idiot”. I only bothered with a couple of paragraphs of King Juan Carlos’s retirement and the joy it may have brought to elephants, being more attracted to a piece by Sam Kean on Solomon Shereshevsky, the man who remembered everything, a skill which brought him more dissatisfaction than joy. Kean offered hope for those who complain their memory “is like a sieve”, “sieves let water leak through, but they catch substantial things.”
Delays allowed me to start on Introducing Philosophy for Everyday Life something of “a beginner’s guide”, and as I am certain I will rarely go beyond beginner status on any subject, it seems suitable for me. So I read of Pyrrho, Socrates and Montaigne, hoping that my brain sieve would catch the more substantial things this time. I’ve also started Antonio Damasio’s Self Comes the Mind. I enjoy reading the debates and confusions involved in researching human consciousness, though I am quickly confused. Hopefully books like these at least act as a spur to understand more, even if a new level of confusion may bubble up to. After reading chapter one, I found myself questioning how we can be so blase after the 6 to 8 hours of unconsciouness we experience each night, (“what could have been going on while I was ‘gone’”) and about the inability to step into the same river twice. With every incident that happens to us, however minor, are we slightly altered. With each intake of new information, are we not quite as we were before?
(then I stared out of the train window at the remnants of crops near Market Harborough)
At Leicester station, I picked up this morning’s copy of Metro, it was unrequired. Now time for the Scottish ghost special of this month’s Fortean Times. Not much music listened to today, a little William Onyeabor and no more than that.
To be continued in episode 2, the excitingly titled – “The 19th September”
in between reading on trains, I will be stopping off in towns and cities such as Goole, Stowe, Bridgwater, Nottingham, Cardiff, Manchester, London, Belfast, Dublin and many more. Details HERE
My reading has led to things such as this 3 hour DVD HERE