Back To The Office

Reading & Writing

I have two office chairs; this is the relaxing one. It sits on a tiny balcony in the sun, and is waiting for me at the end of each working day in Barcelona. I escaped here because the flat below ours in London is being gutted, and the noise makes it impossible to concentrate. My working day here is different to the ones in London because there are several hours more daylight and it’s much quieter (so long as you don’t mind the sound of church bells and children).

After a year which saw me working without a proper holiday  and taking only research weekends, I’m going to chill out in a small hotel by a cathedral away from my usual haunts. I’m taking my Kindle and laptop, because of course I won’t be able to resist working.

As soon as I get back I head for Glasgow, for the Aye Write! festival, which should be a lot of fun, then I’m signing around the capital for ‘Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour’, with the launch at Waterstones, Covent Garden (free tickets still available).

I’ll also be delivering my still-titleless thriller (if a book had a woman’s name – think of Vera Caspery’s ‘Laura’ – what would it be?) and preparing two further novels. The collected short stories, now an immense tome consisting of approx. 156 stories, is finished, and we have to find someone insane enough to publish them.

There are plenty of other projects in the pipeline – the problem is fitting everything into a year that is fast losing its gaps. It looks like the time I mentally set aside to read Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’ has already gone (anyone read it? Is it worth the haul?). And with a no-deal Brexit approaching it may be a good idea to avoid booking flights, no matter how cheap they are.

So I’m heading for that chair to think about time management, and how come I ended up at retirement age with a fuller schedule than the one I had in my twenties. Coming up on the blog soon, stories about London, movies, books and anything you’d especially like to know about. Feel free to ask questions; that’s the purpose of this space.

16 comments on “Back To The Office”

  1. snowy says:

    Don Q, is quite a good tale, but the reader must absolutely be in the right frame of mind. There is a lot of po-faced, beard-stroking about it being a masterpiece of Spanish Lit. which it might be. [Too much ink has been pointlessly spilt over the following centuries trying to interpret the story as a polemic against this or a warning against that, by authors whose sole intention was to prove how clever they are.]

    It is a comedy, man who has been obsessively reading tales of Medieval Chivalry goes insane and sets out on a ‘Noble Quest’. His adventures don’t go well, he gets beaten up quite a lot and slung in a pond. [The story ends with the narrator saying he has discovered another collection of manuscripts detailing further adventures…..*]

    It is a shame that it was never filmed as it should have been with a George MacDonald Fraser script, directed by Richard Lester. [Roy Dotrice as Sancho Panza.]

    [ * To have read DQdlM and tick it off the list, you only need to read the first half, publishers always bundle in the sequel written 10 years later.]

    [If picking a book, note that there are many translations, some are really bad: ie. they cut out all the [mostly rude] jokes to make it palatable for Middle Class Victorian tastes.]

  2. Brooke says:

    Cervantes’ DQ: I recall being very disappointed when I read it many years ago; satire on classical romanticism, itself satire. Tedios read. Why do you feel the need to read it? How about Arturo Perez-Reverte instead?

  3. Martin Tolley says:

    I got to around page 7 about 4 times with the Don. Not my thing really. Maybe it might be better if you read it in the original?

  4. admin says:

    It’s one of those books you feel you should tackle, like Tristram Shandy, which I’d need to be in an iron lung to read, with no other books available.
    Hang on, I feel a column coming on.

  5. Brooke says:

    btw, the sentimental Man of La Mancha (1965) is based loosely on DQ. I think that says it all.

  6. Billy says:

    When you are in Barcelona, how do you resist the temptation to just potter down to Sitges?

  7. admin says:

    I don’t like Sitges. It’s a tad too chi-chi for me, so I go in the opposite direction to Barcelona’s best-kept secret…

  8. Roger says:

    Tristram Shandy is available as a graphic novel by Martin Rowson, which is much more fun.
    Rowson’s masterpiece is a version of The Waste Land. Also an improvement on the original.

  9. Brian says:

    For a good Spanish read I’m always drawn back to Javier MarÍas. In particular the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy which at times feels very Proustian; the phone might ring which will be followed by several densely packed pages detailing the implications of answering it before he actually picks up the receiver.

    It is not a novel which lends itself to speed reading (which I am often guilty of with modern writers) and I never read novels twice because there is too much good stuff out their yet to be read and I feel death rushing towards me, however, I have now read that trilogy several times and know that I will again once more.

    This is nothing to do with the Don which I have attempted several times over a long lifetime but know that I will never against waste any time attempting it. Mid 20th century I read the Classic Comics version so I will rely on that 48 page summation to see me through.

  10. Wayne Mook says:

    I got about 60 odd pages into Don Quixote and then put it down, I keep meaning to go back to it but never have, I was enjoying it but not massively so.

    Your schedule is fuller because you are now doing things you know you will enjoy. When your young everything is so new and wonderful but confusing and exhausting, now you know how to savour the things you enjoy. You love writing, do you really want to stop writing? If you did, it would free up your whole schedule. In short you have less time because you have decided to do you things you enjoy and to savour them. In short your living the life.

    The name for a book depends on the setting. If it’s like Laura, I would go for Candice. It’s not a common name or that uncommon either, plus it has that Hollywood feel.

    Candice Bergen is the person I associate with the name, which allows me to give a sad radio fact. Her dad, Edgar Bergan was a radio ventriloquism, his shows the Ed Bergen Show/The Charlie McCarthy was the top rated show, it had 30 million listeners (and you thought Educating Archie was popular.), it was during this show when a musical interlude led to people changing shows and on the dial that day was a Mercury Theatre production of ‘War of the Worlds’ and so the legend of Orson Welles grew.

    Is it possible to a locked out mystery, there are locked door mysteries but what would be the opposite?


  11. Peter Tromans says:

    Vázquez Montalbán (and his detective) Pepe Carvalho must be compulsory in Barcelona? And more exciting than Cervantes?

  12. Eva Balogh says:

    Just a quick note – sadly, the tickets for the event at Covent Garden were, according to the website, ‘sold-out’ at least a couple of weeks ago. I was a tad disappointed.

  13. Ray Brooks says:

    Just read Hall of Mirrrors another brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable book.The odd one out is 20th century man. Which
    Is a kinks song written in September 71.With lyrics This is the age of machinery.A mechanical nightmare.The wounderful world of technology.And has references to various bombs.Totally inappropriate to the peace and love message of the sixties.Thanks again for a wonderful read.

  14. Billy says:

    So what’s Barcelona’s best-kept secret…?

  15. Mimi Paller says:

    Laura’s not a great name, but the song is wonderful and gave the name mystery and romance. It even induced me to watch the boring movie.
    So once your pick the name, find a good song writer.

  16. Helen Martin says:

    I must have had a good translation of the Don because I loved it and laughed a lot when I read it in my twenties.
    There’s no need to read the classics of a culture before reading the modern authors, but it often explains references and phrases which are otherwise eyebrow raising when stumbled upon. If it obscures the plot a little simple research is usually enough.

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