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Always nice to get a positive review for one of my books and even better when it comes from another 'ex-pat' Burtonian!  Carol post...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

And the question is...?


“Can I ask you a question?” He said, as I got up to leave the rooftop bar.  I resisted the temptation to give the response that I habitually give to my students in the same situation, which is “Yes of course…was that it?”  You can see from this why I fail to win friends and influence people.

My putative interrogator was a smartly dressed, elderly man accompanied by his immaculately attired wife.  They were clearly enjoying a pre-dinner drink in the bar, which we had been using as an impromptu reading room until the arrival of a legion of better-dressed aperitif consumers had made us feel scruffy and caused us to retire to our cabin.  Or, at least, try to retire to our cabin.

I was intrigued to see where this conversation was going to lead us.

“Can you see that ship over there?”  He asked, getting to the nub of the thing.

I peered through the encroaching greyness of the North Sea sky and eventually spotted what I imagined he meant on the horizon.

“Yes” I replied (to do otherwise would have been unnecessarily cruel) “and there’s another over there.”  I pointed to a spot further to our right.

“Thank you” he responded, with considerable relief, “she wouldn’t believe me” he nodded toward his wife.

“I couldn’t see them.”  His wife countered in defence.

It’s at times like this that you feel as if you have slipped into a floating Home for the Bewildered.  This, and the sleeping.

I suppose that having spent 9 months sloshing about in amniotic fluid, it is hardly surprising if even the best of us find the gentle rolling of the ship to be somewhat soporific.  Nevertheless, it is a little disconcerting to look about you and realise that everyone in your row of seats is dozing peacefully whilst also holding a book in their hands.  From time to time, inevitably, a book (or e-reader) will crash to the floor, causing a rude awakening.  More often, though, the slumberer will wake, look furtively around to see if anyone’s noticed their unconsciousness, and return to the act of reading as if nothing had happened.  I particularly like those who are clearly under the impression that they have only shut their eyes for a fraction of a second, who pick up their reading as if there has been only the briefest of interruptions, despite the fact that their jaw dropped open about twenty minutes ago and  there has been a succession of snores ever since.


They say that, in Eastbourne, they prop their dead up in bus shelters.  Here, I’m convinced you could hide a corpse for days in a comfy chair with a book, and no-one would ever notice.  Now there’s a thought!