Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A book in the hand is worth two in the shop!

Blogging, I have often thought, can be like cleaning your teeth: something habitual and necessary, but not always a pleasure.

Unless of course when your mouth has become the palette for a whole series of contrasting flavours each of which is fighting for supremacy and emitting its own distinct scent, noisome to yourself and those around you. Then it is a positive delight to ‘delete all and insert’ (as we used to say in farcical General Body meetings in university) and greet the world with a sparkling new mouth which does not deal death with every breath.

A blog can be the equivalent of a good mouthwash where the frustrating bitterness of real and imagined slights can be retextured into what the perpetrator fondly believes is deathless prose.

By such small necessary deceptions do we live our little lives!

I have been forced to think about the medium as a friend has whimpered that the reason he does not indulge (I think that is the right word) in a blog is because he does not have enough time. He may not think he has enough time for a blog, but he certainly has time for a few jewelled observations presented in the form of an email. How is a blog different? I can see the essential fatuity of the exercise, but what a simple self-indulgent delight it is to complete.

I can now go back over two years in my blog and rediscover the emotions and events which have marked a fairly momentous change in my circumstances. A few weeks ago I read some of the last entries in my blog before I came to Catalonia and it was a strange experience. I was reading about someone I knew, but the distance and the altered perspective gave a different spin to my appreciation of what I thought was going on then.

Good, bad or indifferent, it is an engaging record of my times and I’m glad that I started writing it. Whether the readers can say the same is of course something else entirely.

I write this on the balcony in school during my lunch hour in a sun which has, at last, merited the adjective ‘hot.’ The usual manic interest in the weather evinced by all Iberians means that they have now convinced themselves that summer has finally arrived. No matter that there are clouds in the sky and the haze over the city is as threatening as ever, the season when even Spaniards might divest themselves of some of the layers of clothing seems appreciably nearer.

The day started well with my personalized edition of ‘Sredni Vashtar’ being churned out by the photocopier. I am rapidly amassing a collection of selected short stories to be used with various classes. At the moment I am using Chekhov and Salinger and Saki will soon be added to this heady mix.

The Somerset Maugham story that I want to add to my limited editions is proving to be stubbornly difficult to find on the internet, but I know that it there somewhere in the electronic cloud of the bibliosphere and I will find it and mercilessly bend it to my requirements for English learners!

Back inside at the end of the day and my Search for the Story will continue - wish me luck!
One of the school secretaries has just come into the staff room and said, "I bet you are happy that you will not be indulging in the Sant Jordi panic that the rest of us will be in!"
This refers to the 'Invisible Friend' event which the school is using to celebrate the 23rd of April Sant Jordi's Day (St George's Day) and the National Day of Catalonia. It is traditional for books to be exchanged - and that is where the 'Invisible Friend' comes in. I drew a spill of paper and had to buy a book for the person whose name was written thereon.
As I didn't know the person I had to take advice and it transpired that I was buying for one of the secretaries. I have bought and wrapped what I take to be suitible books (based on advice) and have even written an appropriate message (translated for me into Spanish) to be added. No one else it appears has done this so, along with the rest of the population of Catalonia, they will be taking part in the Book Buying Frenzy of Sant Jordi's Eve!
Smug indeed!
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