It turns out people aren’t comfortable just being with themselves.
Blaise Pascal said, ‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,’ and the figures back him up. 95% of adults say they found time for a leisure activity in the previous 24 hours, but 83% said they’d spent no time just thinking.
The young, in particular, are not enjoying human interaction. Direct phone calls are in decline, with texts and emails preferred. On one call I had recently, the caller explained that he would be more comfortable if a series of topics under discussion could be prearranged and approved in advance. No wonder the birth rate is falling.
Like the rest of Europe, we’ve learned to spend more time at home these past two years. And this turns out to be a pretty good thing. It’s wonderful to sit quietly in a room you love. I live open-plan so there are technically no rooms, but we have the vista of London before us. The Shard is pulsing with coloured LEDs, the dome of St Pauls’ has a low, soft blue light, the London Eye is red and purple tonight and the Telecom Tower (I’m sorry, it will only ever be the Post Office Tower to me) is sending neon messages around its crown.
After my cancer prognosis I thought to myself; is there anywhere you especially want to go? The Hermitage, I decided, and South America, but these are closed off or beyond reach right now. After that? I live inside myself, in my word-world, so being surrounded by the books I love is the ideal way to feel calm.
There’s no feeling like two of you sitting in companionable silence reading. Or just one of you.
Although I have to get rid of the creepy stalking geese first. They stare at me and bang on the glass and are still there in the middle of the night.
So I’m by my bookcases reading and reading.
I’m reading ‘Smallbone Deceased’ by Michael Gilbert, far more interesting about working in law than about a murderer on the loose.
I’m tackling ‘Under The Volcano’ by Malcolm Lowry for the third time, and this time I hope to reach the summit.
I’m enjoying Jas Treadwell’s ‘The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach’, where nothing is as it appears.
I’m zipping through ‘Fabulous Monsters’ by Alberto Manguel, about imaginary characters leading their own lives.
And I’m a very happy chap.
- ‘Hot Water’ ARCs arrive!
- Colour-changing Christmas thing appears in square.
- Geese seek new victim to torment.
- Still tormenting at 2:00am.