Saturday, March 10, 2012

Not quite there

Never start your day by listening to Simon Prebble - such a lovely cadence he has - read Christopher Hitchens. If ever I thought I was, to steal an adjective, a dictionary-licking word hoarder, then I had forgotten, for a moment, about Hitchens. Hitchens, who loved Orwell and Wilde both, which in turn is quite enough to make me love him, even if he weren't such a virtuoso writer (see what he did there? Now I'm self-conscious about my choice of words). I listen to him and he has such full command of English, as if every morning over breakfast he sorted through baskets of fresh and luscious rare words and said "you! I will use all of you today." It wakes me up too early and makes me fidget with my sentences.

Hitchens makes me feel inadequate whenever he doesn't make me want to punch him. I guess he's dead now, so punching him would be spiteful, and I am actually very fond of him, but truly, the things that came out of his mouth sometimes... It is, I think, why I am fond of him. It isn't just that I think he has (had) great taste and a terrifying combination of wit and vocabulary. That is all very fine. It is, instead, that he is like that friend you can have a grand and passionate argument with over drinks, and still not let it diminish your respect for them or theirs for you. What a lovely thing to be reminded of first thing on a Saturday.

I do feel inadequate, reading Arguably. It isn't the inadequacy of watching too many Bollywood movies and feeling very plain and bereft of sequins; it is the inadequacy that makes me pick up a pen after procrastinating for days and write a little, perhaps badly, rather than not at all. Thanks, friend. Now, how about some pancakes?

Oh, and  by the way, I am on a reading roll, and just finished Pat Barker's Regeneration. It has my instant fandom. What subtlety, what perfect writing on such a difficult topic - shell shock treatment. It has been a terribly long time since I just sat down and enjoyed every page of a book. Yes, I mean it, it isn't just a fascinating topic well dealt with, it is almost pure enjoyment to read it, if not of an oblivious, escapist kind. For my escapism I have Diana Wynn Jones, who is now also dead. How vexing it is when one's favourite authors die.

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