Wednesday, August 29, 2007


When I was at school and university, I could have been an Olympic splurger, and in my young free and single days, I could still work up a pretty good splurge, but since kids in particular came along, splurging has been a rare occurrence. Here are the instructions:

1 Wake up naturally, without the assistance of any mechanical aid e.g. alarm clock, teasmaid etc.
2 Lie in bed a bit.
3 Start reading.
4 After about an hour or so, answer the call of nature and return to bed with cup of tea/coffee and maybe a slice of toast or apple. Continue reading.
5 Continue reading.
6 Finish book.
7 Realise it is 2pm. Lie in bed and think a bit.
8 Get clean. Baths are good, you can start your next book in them.
9 Eat something, ideally something from three essential food groups. Frex, crumpets, chocolate, cake.
10 Continue reading. Maybe in a chair or lying on a sofa.
11 Eat something from a savoury essential food group - brie and baguette, or little nibbly cheese biscuits with some wine. And an apple.
12 Continue reading.
13 Go to bed.
14 Continue reading. Finish book.
15 Go to sleep.

Easy, once you know how. But it's the details that matter - you shouldn't plan for a splurge, they should be spontaneous events, but it is essential to have the correct ingredients in the kitchen for splurging. When I was a kid, it was easy, because other people did the shopping, although you couldn't always guarantee the correct ingredients for item 9 when leaving the shopping to my mother as she has a puritanical streak.

However, nowadays, I have minions who prevent me from splurging at all. And a husband who feels that splurging is a terrible indulgence and really people ought to get up and do things, like dust all the stuff that has settled now that we've had our beautiful parquet sanded and varnished. Or the washing up, or dressing the kids, or feeding them. I keep trying to train the minions to do things like dress and wash up and cook for themselves, but on this front, so far, I am a failure as a mother and they will insist on conversation and entertainment, and since I want to make sure they don't watch the tv all day, every day, I have to provide the entertainment.

So imagine my excitement when I managed to read 2 books in a day last week - without splurging. Ok, so one was a kid's book and the other a novella, but still, it was a faint echo to my glory days of reading Gone with the Wind on continuous loop.

Oh, the two books were Louis Sachar's follow-on to Holes - a cute read, but nowhere near its predecessor in terms of structural ingenuity and richness of plot, and Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which has gone to top of my list of decent fiction in 2007. It felt too short, but I am not sure that it could have been longer - the central conceit of the book being a dramatic monologue probably couldn't have been sustained for that much longer. I'd love to see the book performed....It was fascinating and beautifully written.

As an antidote, I'm reading Harry Thompson's amazing (and big fat thick) book This Thing of Darkness, an account of the life of Captain Fitzroy, the commander of the Beagle on its explorations of the South American coast. So far, it is brilliant - I only with I could go back to bed and splurge with it. Sigh.

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