Surely there’s been some mistake…

Hello you lovely readers. It feels like a while since we last had a chat which didn’t revolve around me going OMG BOOKS THIS ONE IS GREAT READ IT NOW.

It is still book-related though. You looked nervous. Maybe a little concerned?[1]

So, I’ve read a lot of books recently[2]. Mostly they’ve been really good, but every now and again you get a book where some little detail jumps out at you and jars you out of the story. I’ve had a few over the years, and often wondered what to do about it.

Do I mention it in the review? Should I drop a note to the author? The publisher? Do they even care at this point? After all, the book is out in the wide world, and they’re unlikely (or indeed unable) to fix it at this point.

Case in point – I was reading a book recently which was set in London, but one of the characters came from Yorkshire. The book continued, and it transpired that the character in question came from Sandal & Agbrigg.

Whoa. That’s near where I live. Like, really near. Literally[3] around the corner from my house.

The trouble is that Sandal & Agbrigg isn’t a place. Well, it is, but it’s a train station, between Sandal and, you’ve guessed it, Agbrigg. You’d either say you lived in Sandal, or you lived in Agbrigg, but you’d never say that you’re from Sandal and Agbrigg. Sandal’s that side of the train line, Agbrigg is the other, more or less.

I can see[4] what the author has done – they’ve taken a map of Wakefield, picked a place at random and thought ‘great! A nice little suburb, that’d be perfect for this character’s backstory.’

It’s a tiny, tiny detail, and one which will only be picked up by people who know the area really well[5]. Doesn’t affect the overall story in the slightest, but jarred with me. It’s like seeing a TV show set in your city but the characters turn left down a street and end up on the wrong side of town. You can’t get *there* from *there*, it’s just not how the roads are set up. Or in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves where Robin arrives at Dover, takes a short lunchbreak and Hadrian’s Wall (boy, was he lost) then home to Nottingham in time for tea.

Worth mentioning to the author? Who can say. Thoughts welcome!

[1] Yes, this is a tortuous Princess Bride reference. You win ONE MILLION POINTS. Well done.
[2] Occupational hazard of being a #bookblogger, I guess
[3] Actually literally.
[4] Well, I can assume what they’ve done
[5] Or live literally round the corner

A moment

I’m not entirely sure where this exact moment fits, but it’s one that I don’t want to lose in the hurly-burly of life. Regular book-related shenanigans will recommence shortly.

I was heading back from GollanczFest at the weekend, and for reasons best known to the train operators, my train went from St Pancras rather than King’s Cross. I found myself with some time to kill, so was wandering through the lower level of the station when I noticed a group of people standing around, phones out recording something.

That something turned out to be two guys playing the piano. The same piano, at the same time.

The taller one sat to the left, with what I initially thought was his son on his right. When I got a little closer I could see that the shorter of the two was older, wild hair flicked into a comb-over. They were wearing identical jackets, deep blue with flecks, and matching socks. They played with a joy and synchronicity which was a sheer pleasure to watch. They’d take turns flicking the pages on the music with a dramatic flourish, sometimes pausing to push the book back up onto the stand, the other taking up the playing as they did so.

They clearly did this a lot. Hands would cross, fingers picking out the melody. The older would sit back, smooth down his errant hair then launch back into playing. The younger would occasionally glance across at his partner, a smile on his face.

They’d drawn a small crowd of onlookers, tired passengers on their way to far-flung places. Most had their phones out, recording the moment for posterity.

Me? I just stood and watched, and listened.

Sometimes it’s not about the photograph, the video, putting the camera between you and the moment. Sometimes you just need to live it, to soak up the experience, to be *there*.

But then sometimes you just want to try and catch it later, fleeting as it was. I know that this will mean virtually nothing to you, dear reader. But I hope that in the years to come I’ll look back on this and remember those two guys playing a piano in a station in London, and it’ll bring a smile again.

Taking a year off the internet

What? No, not *me*, you crazy cucumbers. As if!

Just watched this video by Shay Carl and Colette of the Shaytards.

Do you watch their YouTube channel? I started a couple of months ago. Young Miss LB was sat watching various YouTube things and the Shaytards came on. After a couple of episodes I was left wondering – who are these people? Why do they video EVERYTHING? How do they find the time?

Wait. How many subscribers??

Crikey.

Fast forward a couple of months and we’re regular visitors to the Butlers’ lives. Love it.

So, it was a bit of a surprise to see the above video. And… not a surprise. [short version for those who didn’t watch the video – next March the Shaytards are taking a year off the internet, for various and very good reasons]

A YEAR OFF THE INTERNET.

The mere thought makes me twitch. Could I take a year off Twitter, FB, this blog? (ok, probably yes to FB).

How about you? Could you take a year off posting stuff online?

Fairly sure I couldn’t.

A fishy tale

Or: He Took A Bite Of His Sandwich: You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next.

This morning, as I was making my daughter’s packed lunch, I realised with some joy that there was sufficient leftover tuna mayo for a whole other sandwich. That’s lunch sorted I thought. Two slices of bread, scrape of butter (not too much), dollop the rest of the tuna on, chop it in half, boom. Done.

Casting around for something to put the sandwich in, I found a tupperware[1] box about the right shape and size. Sandwich in, sorted.

Pleased with myself, I finished loading up LB’s lunchbox with her tuna wrap, popped my plastic box into my bag and set off for work.

At lunchtime I retrieved the box from the fridge, eager to munch on my delicious tuna sandwich.

I took the first half of the sandwich. Hmm, I thought. That’s got more tuna in than I remember. Munch munch, yum.

Still peckish, I took a bite of the other half.

Something was amiss. Awry, even.

There was something fishy about this tuna sandwich…

Actually, there wasn’t.

I opened the two slices of bread. Small flecks of tuna lay nestled on their buttery bed, forlorn.

ALL THE TUNA HAD SLID DOWN INTO THE FIRST HALF.

This was like[2] the WORST TUNA SANDWICH EVER.

Worse even than when you go to a sandwich shop and they’ve helpfully cut the sandwich diagonally[3] so you can see all the delicious filling and it looks really nice and then you buy it but it turns out the filling is all actally up against the visible edge so you’re left with a huge bready margin to your sandwich.

The first half was awesome though.

[1] not *actual* Tupperware. Other plastic containers are available.
[2] actually, I’m sure it *was* the worst tuna sandwich ever.
[3] diagonally-cut sandwiches taste better. True fact.

Stealing time

From “I Steal Time” | MORNING, COMPUTER, by Warren Ellis.

Walking in London with a friend from America who works in film. I stopped at a roundabout near Covent Garden, looked up. He asked what I was looking at. Everything, I said. It’s my practice. I take five minutes every day just for me, to look around and see where I am and be there.
[…]
It’s easy to feel like you’re living on borrowed time, and that time is running out. For five minutes a day, I like to turn the hourglass the other way. I’ve stolen six hundred hours from the countdown clock that the world would have drained away from me had I let it.

In the chaos in which we live our lives these days, with the constant pinging of notifications, the deluge of media and advertising, the constant thrum of people doing stuff, wanting stuff, needing stuff from everyone else, it’s important to stop and take a moment.

In the words of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off :

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Take a moment. Look around. What do you see?