Well we've had the Jubilee, Euro 2012 (the exchange rate) is underway, the Olympics are looming, we've lost a dear little Tibetan shyster and replaced him with another - it really is turning out to be a memorable year. Oh, and I've just read a book.
To most of you I guess reading a book isn't such a big deal. You probably think it's like saying "I brushed my teeth". To me it's a landmark occasion celebrating the fact that I haven't completely lost the ability to sit quietly and concentrate for several hours with something that doesn't have a screen.
When I was young the concept of reading books was as natural as breathing. The rows of Anthony Buckeridge, Richmal Crompton and Enid Blyton in our little branch library are still as sharp in my memory as the smell and squeak of the waxed parquet floor and the dowdy velvet feel of the handwritten library tickets. Coming away with a new Biggles under each arm was as exciting as it could get.
As I got older my love of books continued and I forsook the municipal library for the joy of actually owning books. The glorious feel of a brand new penguin was a selfish pleasure and the iconic cover artwork became as ingrained in my head as the vinyl album sleeves that I coveted equally.
Somewhere the obsessive collector in me came to the fore. I amassed complete sets of paperback Graham Greenes and Alistair Macleans, interspersed with volumes which were bought for exhibition rather than consumption. I never did get past page one of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" so will never know what he actually said.
Once adulthood and a salary arrived I was a sitting duck for the marketing department of Book Club Associates and spent what seemed like decades receiving large parcels of books every month having neglected to return the right card with an X in the box. It was a period when I spent more time building shelves for books than reading them. Presentation had finally triumphed over content and I was all ready to vote for Tony Blair in his first landslide.
The last few years have seen me all but give up books completely. The butterfly minded flitting between sources of what is now termed "content" takes away ones ability to sit down and just concentrate on a single book. Even my beloved shelves of BCA reference books have gradually found their way to charity shops now I can access all the information from the little oblong thing in my pocket.
In my next post I'll tell you what the book is that I've just read. Don't worry, it's not the Nietsche.