No sugar on my almonds

A degree of self-awareness is generally considered a “good thing”.  So much so, in fact, that at the temple in Delphi were carved the words “Know thyself, nothing in excess” – or at least a loose translation thereof into Greek (since, let’s face it, few visitors to the oracle would have understood the modern English version I have rendered here).  Phrase-making which has stood the test of time and, indeed, translation.

I am currently reading “Mystery Man” which I have borrowed from Sawston library.  Whilst a lot of my library-based borrowing relies on the very sizeable collection held at Cambridge Central library, I do feel guilty about using my local library as little more than a glorified book drop.  As a result, I feel some obligation to find something to borrow from its rather limited shelves every so often: the whole library is not a lot larger than my drawing room and only contains marginally more books!  Luckily, whilst it has very limited stock, there is a degree of rotation and new books appear de temps en temps (or at least they are new to Sawston).   Despite this rotation, I have to be rather more adventurous with my book selections when choosing locally – which in many ways is no bad thing.  Sometimes excessive choice is not our friend as there is a tendency to choose stuff too cognate with existing taste; the same issue arises when automated filtering attempts to show us only those things which it thinks will meet with our approval (or at least it would be if the filtering processes were even remotely effective).  I have read some quite splendid books which I might otherwise never have encountered as a result of my strange moral crusade to use my local library, perhaps the cream of these was “The City and the City” by China Miéville.  The other big advantage of regular visits to Sawston library is that they sell off old stock at the very recession-friendly price of 10p per book (not something I’ve seen at the ‘Central’) – and I’ve picked up some excellent bargains over the years.

Anyway, some might consider that I have digressed a little and may be wondering when almonds will make an appearance, so I shall return to Mystery Man forthwith (never let it be said that this blog fails to respond to constructive criticism – it may be true, but there’s no need to say it).  Many years ago, I read a few books (which might be as few as two) by Colin Bateman which were fine –  but they didn’t set my imagination afire and so I hadn’t rushed to read more (and move from ‘a few’ to the dizzy heights of ‘several’).  In the intervening years, Mr Bateman seems to have discarded his forename(s) and to have joined the ranks of those who use but a single name in their professional life – not a grouping which I would wish to join myself (frankly, I struggle to think of any current members with whom I would want to be associated), but each to their own (and I suppose it would make form-filling slightly easier and provide a marginal reduction in printing costs).  Still, my library-guilt needed assuaging and options were limited, so I took a chance on “Mystery Man” by, the now somewhat nominally reduced, Bateman.

Over the period of our estrangement, it would seem that Bateman’s writing and my taste have had somewhat of rapprochement – though I wouldn’t like to say which made the first move and whether the loss of forenames is anything more than a coincidence.  I am loving the book and its extremely flawed and (thus far) anonymous hero and narrator (though I may be leaving myself something of a hostage to fortune as I’m only halfway through the book and he could yet turn out to be a serial killer, or worse).  Our (for now) hero has some splendidly trenchant views and while he appears to suffer from a wide range of mental and physical issues (can’t imagine why I like him), he does not lack self-awareness.  It is he who makes clear that there is no sugar on his almonds – a metaphor for self-awareness so fine that I have constructed this entire post around it.  Yes, we have a whole new strand (queue virtual fanfare): GofaDM now offers a metaphor sharing service to its subscribers (and these are not any metaphors, they are specially selected, GofaDM approved metaphors).


News reaches me today from the Antipodes that watching too much television can shorten your life (I assume they have controlled for living upside down and the additional tension created by vocal pitch rising at the end of each sentence).

At the same time, it seems likely that, in response to funding cuts, the BBC will be scaling back BBC4.  As BBC4 is the mainstay of my televisual viewing, it seems that I shall be watching a lot less television in future.

A threat is revealed and then resolved in but a single day.  My plans for practical immortality (as opposed for my rather different plans for practical immorality) are back on track – I had already aced this week’s earlier reported requirement for 15 minutes of exercise per day.  I’m now jolly glad I re-organised my bookcase last week as it seems I shall be increasingly reliant on the print medium for my kicks (and the intellectual underpinning of this blog) in future and will need the extra room.

Still, for now BBC4 is still with us and last night saw the eagerly awaited return of “Only Connect” – the sole TV quiz I’m willing to watch: both for the challenge presented by its questions and the presence of Victoria Coren in the chair.  She’s enough to make a chap go quite weak at the knees (and in the morals)…

…and relax

The last few weeks have been an exhausting whirl with festivals of comedy and music parting me from my usual life of abnegation.  So many nights out past my usual bedtime; so many nights out, period (or, in this case, exclamation mark)!

With the festival season over in Cambridge, my annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh looms, like a giant weaving machine, on the horizon.  Even more comedy and music crammed into even fewer days.  Will I survive the cultural onslaught?

The signs are not entirely positive – a couple of weeks ago I kept acquiring minor finger-based injuries, and this week my shins are acquiring stray wounds.  It is often said that where sense is absent, there is an associated lack of feeling.  This may well be true as whilst I could recall a few of the incidents that led to damage to my phalanges, I have no memory at all of any of those that led to the tibial damage.

So, in this intra-festive lacuna I have decided that I need a rest (and not just to make a tricky snooker shot) before descending once more into the fray.  I also have a stack of BBC4 documentaries to catch up on: the pseudo-intellectual trappings of this blog have to come from somewhere, you know.  As a result, I have tried to spend this week taking it easy – but have discovered (once again) that I’m really not very good at it.  My best attempts at loafing have resulted in a loaf (of bread) and the sharing of my loaf-based secrets with the world (or at least the readers of GofaDM).

I comforted myself with the knowledge that my failure to rest had at least meant that a number of long-outstanding errands had been completed.  However, reference to Mr Collins (the publisher of my dictionary rather than the heir to Longbourn) suggests that an errand requires a trip (in the sense of journey rather than a fall – though I suppose that would also be a journey) of some form – so it seems that I have merely “done some stuff”. When I come to think about the main “stuff” done, viz re-arranging my bookcase to increase the accessibility of my extensive library (including the sorting of the fiction alphabetically by author) and tidying up the wires behind the TV, it does seem worryingly to represent classic displacement activity.  Since relaxation is what I was supposed to be doing, it would seem that at some subconscious level I have some objection to chillin’ (as I believe the kids of a decade or two ago would have said) and am desperately seeking alternatives to avoid it.  I rather fear therapy beckons: with all too much material into which the followers of Freud or Jung could sink their metaphorical teeth (in my, entirely untrained, opinion and, in a nod to Clement’s grandfather, I blame my mother).

Then again, who needs a man with a mittel-European accent and a couch? I have a blog! What more therapy can any man need?  Or, indeed, how much more displacement activity?  If any readers should care to proffer a diagnosis (I will require you to show your working) or text-based therapy, they should feel entirely free to do so – whilst recognising that I shall feel equally free to ignore it!