In this blog, I have tried to give readers brief vignettes of life in the high water mark of early 21st century civilisation that is Sawston. However, my current reading has brought into sharp focus how far I have yet to go.
I have heard it said (probably via Malcolm Gladwell) that 10,000 hours of commitment is needed before any skill can be considered mastered. This blog has yet to achieve 10,000 elapsed hours – and only a tiny fraction of those can be considered “CPU time” – so I fear you will have a long wait, but it has also been said (this time by Robert Louis Stevenson) that it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive – which may offer some crumb of comfort. However, I notice that this post seems to have turned into an episode of “Quote, Unquote”, so let me try and wrest it back on track.
I have borrowed The Cricklewood Tapestry by Alan Coren from the Central library. Avid readers might wonder why I have not turned to Sawston library for my reading matter given my previous writings on the importance of (not just being Ernest, but also) supporting your local facilities: well, I will tell you (and them). Sawston library was recently closed for a week while it was automated. No longer do you hand your book or books to a nice lady to have them checked in or out: you now do all of this yourself using a machine (though the nice lady is still there to prevent anarchy). I presume the machine must have been very successful (at least in its checking-out mode) as the number of books within the library seems to have declined quite dramatically around the time of its installation. Either that or the heating has failed and the remaining human staff have been forced to burn the books to keep warm. I suppose I should view the new robot librarian as a positive commitment to the future of Sawston library, though I can’t help feeling that this is somewhat balanced by the disappearance of so many of the books (that many, myself included, would view as a rather critical element of the whole library concept).
Anyway, I have allowed myself to, once again, become distracted (and to split an infinitive in a most egregious manner). The late, great Mr Coren wrote extensively throughout his career about the North London suburb of Cricklewood. As a result, Cricklewood looms large in my (and probably the collective) unconscious – a stature it shares with, for example, Mornington Crescent – but which is probably quite at odds with the reality “on the ground”. This is down to the skill and wit of the sainted Alan’s writings, and reading them has made me realise just how far I have to go if Sawston is ever to take its rightful place in the British psyche. I suppose The Times may also have given him access to a rather larger readership than I suspect this blog is yet achieving – but I’m not looking for excuses. While I have found it safest to read The Cricklewood Tapestry at home, as the outbursts of spontaneous laughter it engenders can cause one to be viewed askance if they occur “in public”, I doubt public perusal of GofaDM would give any such cause of concern.
Still, perhaps fresh exposure to a master of the genre of spinning the minor events of quotidien existence into comedy gold will lead to some improvement, so that I might achieve an incondign mastery of the blog-form before the last of my un-dyed hair turns grey. Either that, or you should come back in a couple of decades and hope that Mr Gladwell was right!