Sunday, 25 January 2009

We Apologise for the Inconvenience

I've been quiet a few weeks now. There are reasons for that; I'm travelling with my mum for her 50th birthday, so it's all a bit personal, I'm staying in nice places and having fun rather than doing anything I think worth writing about, but most of all I just haven't really felt like writing. Today I feel slightly more inspired.

I'm a bit anxious about talking about some of the things I'm up to at the moment. Everyone I speak to in the UK tells me the weather's miserable, the economy's miserable, the news is miserable and they're not doing too well either. Next to that, just telling people where I am feels like gloating.

After three months of mid- to late autumn- weather, and a week of central-heating-free winter, I've taken a step into the sunshine and started to work on my tan. Australia was boiling, but not to my mother's taste (not exactly mine either, with the average weight comparable to America's Southern states). Deciding that Manley Bay and Noosa Heads were, respectively, 'like Clapton on Sea' and 'disGUSTing', we rerouted to Phuket (via Melbourne for the tennis), which she is exceedingly happy with. It suits me, I love the place and sets me up in the right area for my trip with Alex. That trip is getting ever closer - just over two weeks away - and with the prospect of forty days of island hopping ahead of me, and having changed countries five times already this year, I'm quite keen to hang around Thailand for a while, relax a bit and forget about moving too much. If I wasn't a lazy sod I'd probably have worked out how to get to Cambodia and back by bus, but another week in the sunshine to shake off a bit of traveller's fatigue won't do me any harm.

Top Five Books (in my head right now):
1. The Uninvited - Geling Yan: A comic tale, and Geling's first in English, about a laid off factory worker who stumbles upon free banquets thrown for journalists. He just wants to be left alone with his shark's fin soup, but his dreams of legitimising his deceit draw him into a world he's not equipped to deal with.

2. The Delivery Man - Joe McGuinness Jnr.: McGuinness has been dubbed the new Bret Easton Ellis, and there's definitely a scent of Less Than Zero in this story of self-destruction and teen exploitation. Painful and impossible to put down.

3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig: a multidimensional journey through America, philosophy and the struggles inside one man's head, you'll want to reread it before you're halfway through!

4. Rice - Su Tong: Family infighting and generational competition captured in startling prose by one of China's greatest living novelists. His great skill is refusing to judge the cruelty his characters display to one another.

5. The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen: would be higher, but I haven't finished it yet. Franzen makes you feel the blows of every little frustration in his characters' lives, bringing sympathy out of conflict and self-recognition from self-pity.

Depending on where you are in the world, for tomorrow, Happy Australia Day, Happy Chinese New Year and, to my mum, Happy 50th!

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