Wednesday, September 8, 2010

8.9.10: a good day for books

It is the middle of the day on Wednesday, and I am sitting around slightly anxiously waiting to hear from the real estate agent about making my occupancy of St Pancras Chambers official. He told me yesterday that he was aiming for Friday for the key hand-over, and my bank in Oz has started the process of forwarding the necessary funds. Now other people have to do their thing...*bites nails*

I did discover today that it is only a 15 minute walk to an actual mall. It is called ‘Southside’ (as distinct from ‘Westfield’ – what is it with the blandness of mall names?) and is in Wandsworth. I think. I strolled down there for my caffeine fix (Starbucks today – so shoot me) and to read the paper. This revealed details of the Booker short list, only one of which I have read (Peter Carey’s ‘Parrot & Olivier’: verdict, good but not as good as his best; and I wish I hadn’t packed my copy of Alexis de Tocqueville’s book on America). 

To remedy this situation I repaired into said mall to a big Waterstone’s bookshop to purchase a copy of another book on the list, Damon Galgut’s ‘In A Strange Room’. According to ‘The Gaurdian’ it is unusual and worth reading, though possibly shouldn’t be eligible for the Booker because it is really three short stories and they never give Alice Munro a look-in.

And by the way, Waterstone’s had a copy of an Alice Munro collection I haven’t read (‘Too Much Happiness’) and I could not possibly walk past a new Alice Munro collection. 

Then I saw that the Alice Munro book had a sticker ‘3 for 2’, so inevitably.....I will pause briefly here while we all consider the 90 boxes of books I just packed up and put into storage in Sydney....OK, now I feel sobered. But I do have four new books. 

And ‘Philosophy – A guide through the subject’, which I am reading, I promise I am.

I finished the Amos Oz biography, which must inevitably have been mostly fiction (albeit no doubt true to the spirit of his memories) because he was in his sixties writing about his childhood and the detail (mostly of the furnishings of various rooms of various relatives and neighbours) was ridiculously replete. Nevertheless, although this made parts quite a slog, it was a moving and interesting book, essential reading if you want to understand the birth of the State of Israel. Recommended.

The nice young man in Waterstone’s signed me up for one of their loyalty cards. He asked if I bought many books – ha! So now I have my first local UK card.

The mall also revealed a large Waitrose and a large Sainbury’s. In the interest of diversifying I chose the Waitrose and purchased somewhat more exciting dinner makings than had been possible at the small shops in Earlsfield. There was a fishmonger. We’re having Scottish salmon.

I also purchased a £10 sim card in the hopes that it would work in my iPhone; and it would have except of course I remembered that my iPhone is locked to Vodafone and I’d bought the wrong brand. No harm – I have a old spare phone with me and I am pleased to report that it works in that. My temporary UK number is therefore: *drum roll*.... +44 (0)7597 127 710

In other news, I am going to Spain at the weekend! As one does. J I have a ticket to the opera:

You may recall earlier mention of el Bulli, the famous restaurant on the Costa Brava in Spain. There was a moment of excitement when it looked like I may be able to score a place at a lunch there in early October. Sadly, the event sold out almost instantly, so while I was making up my mind braver souls were waving their hands and securing a spot. El Bulli gets over a million requests for reservations each year, and accommodates only 10% of them. As their web site currently says:

The demand has again surpassed our limited possibilities of reservations for one season and we regret not to be able to fulfill more requests. 

So the Costa Brava is on hold, but Madrid is happening!

Sunny Madrid

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