Cannot let go the love for reading

Now what shall I tell you about today?  After my grumble about macaroni cheese in this column, I was asked to put my money where my mouth is and talk about it on Ben Uzair’s KK12FM show, Make it Happen.  It’s on today (Sunday) at 8 – 10 am, so I hope you enjoy my blathering! He’s a patient man!

I love radio.  It’s so much more fun than television. You can listen while you are doing something else.

You can listen anywhere, instead of being pinned to the sofa. And you can let your imagination fill in all the gaps. It’s like reading, which is why it’s not easy reading first and seeing all your characters look different on the screen.

The pitfalls of Feverfall

I do hope people enjoy reading as I struggle with my second book, Feverfall.  It is set in a strange island that might be Sabah might be Cambodia might be anywhere, and has people who have characteristics and traditions that might be vaguely recognisable, but it is a work of fiction and I am playing with all of it.

The heroine is half British, because that’s what I know, and half something else. There may or may not be a murder. Magic. A love affair. I’m enjoying myself, when I actually place myself upon the chair in front of the computer and get going.

But as usual I find myself a hundred distractions before I do that. I even go to the gym, so it must be bad! Then I have a shower and wash and dry my hair. 20 mins.
I check the watering of the plants – at least 15. I go through my emails and messages – oh goodie, there are plenty so that takes half an hour. I can be so creative, until there really is nothing left to do except write.

And the silly thing is, once I start, I’m in, and the story picks itself up and proceeds. I do enjoy it, but not enough to do what Somerset Maugham did (I am not assuming that my talent compares with his but I envy both that and his work ethic).

He would have breakfast, work till noon and then have the rest of the day to do whatever he liked at his Villa Mauresque in the South of France and elsewhere.  You have to just push yourself to start, and then off you go.

Look – today I’m writing this column. Much more manageable – the final full stop is visible.

My novel’s is hidden in the swirling mists of the future.


What have you been reading? I have just finished a very odd autobiography of Anne Glenconner, a Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret.

No idea why I started it but it was oddly gripping with its tales of her complicated, stylish and unpredictable husband (weeping loudly at the opera about missing someone, wearing a PVC suit in the Caribbean and refusing to take it off until he fainted with the heat), her demanding boss who she depicts as having a sense of humour and kindness, and it is heartbreaking as she tells of the loss of her two sons.

Before that I read the autobiography of Elton John, which is warts and all, and very funny, even in the depths of his drug-addled stardom.

And it has a happy ending.

Now what? There’s lots out there but I have become a lazy reader and unless I find something really tempting, I tend to lean towards Lee Child and Jack Reacher (oh, if only…).

Recently I have devoured Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust, Mary Beard’s Women and Power, and I am about to start Girl Woman Other, Bernadine Evaristo’s novel that won this year’s Booker Prize. I hope it’s worth the fanfare.

A familiar face

I went to the cinema the other day to see Gemini Man. It was better than the reviews had led me to believe.

I settled down to watch, winding a pashmina round my chilly shoulders and sticking earplugs in to try to reduce the noise (why do cinemas have to be so cold and so noisy???), and munched my way through a hot dog that was so delicious that it had to be bad for me.

Will Smith was Will Smith, the woman I had not heard of but liked (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, not the starriest of names, and there was a bald man who was Smith’s handler who looked a little familiar.

I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. He was convincing, and that was what mattered while I watched.

I checked the cast list at the end. Ralph Brown.  Of course he was familiar! I went to school with him!

He always wanted to be an actor, and I remember sewing him into his costume at the school play. He was very handsome then, and, now in his 60s, is rather less so – but the boy can act!

I checked on Wikipedia and learnt that:

As of October 22, 2019, Gemini Man has grossed $38.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $83.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $121.4 million.

It is estimated the film will need to gross around $275 million worldwide in order to break even.  Blimey – that’s an awful lot of money.  Hurry up and get to the cinema. Ralph’s gotta eat.

By: Syvia Howe.

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