Monday, December 19, 2005

Escape to the country (more Christmas-avoiding)

There is nothing like going out to the country to get away from it all. There is no electricity and needless to say no internet access. Even a mobile phone does not reach to behind our dam and there are no distractions. So this weekend it was a slothful settling in to book reading, afternoon tea, more reading, dinner of smoked chicken, and more reading. We are getting in practice for the break at Christmas when we can really indulge, and I've collected a number of books from the local library as well as the university library where I work. I always have to have a mini library on hand to choose from.

In the southern hemisphere there is a happy coincidence of Christmas and the long summer break. About November a couple of the better bookshops publish nicely illustrated catalogues of books that are being published in time for Christmas, and there are always helpful blurbs to tell you about the books. Every year I mark the ones I want to read and try to read as many as I can throughout the year. There's a steady supply of books to look forward to, my idea of heaven.

And the other side of the coin - a nightmare scenario for a reader: an episode from the old Twilight Zone series from the 50s, I still remember this one clearly. There's the hen-pecked bookworm who works in a bank, and he often goes into the bank vault to read, as at least there he's undisturbed. One day while he's in the vault a nuclear bomb is dropped (I did say it was the 50s), and he is the sole survivor. He realises that now he can read to his heart's content and he gets some books from the library (which is amazingly undamaged, but that's the power of books for you). BUT as he's going down the steps of the library he trips and falls, and in the process breaks his reading glasses. All those books, all that peaceful uninterrupted time, but he will never be able to read again. That episode has haunted me all those years.

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