Friday, January 04, 2008

A glimmering of sunshine between the clouds

Eurrrgh. I am in the final stages of recovering from an illness which seemed to have taken up permanent residence in my being over the Christmas period. As if January in London wasn't hard enough work!

Rather than whinge, however, I am going to recommend a book which I read in my sick-bed, a book which I have read at least five times previously and a book I hope to be re-reading until the day I die.

(Thank you, goldfish-capacity memory, for the ability to be delighted anew by the same thing, again and again.)

The book to which I refer, my friends, is the autobiography of one Mr. Stephen Fry: the obscurely titled Moab is my Washpot.

More British than Jammy Dodgers, more rendolent of London than black cabs and red double-decker buses passing by Westminster, more English than the Queen Herself. To me, Fry represents the Ultimate English Public-school Chap and All-round Decent Fellow.

He also has a charming and highly distinctive way with words. He is a man in love with the English language, and you can't help but get caught in the champagne bubbles of his enthusiasm. Even when he is talking about his darkest, grubbiest, most shameful moments, he is a pleasure to read.

What does it for me, though, is the honesty with which he chronicles the struggles he went through during his time at school, his sense of being the outsider, and the burning intensity of his emotions. I could identify with that, although my experience was as far removed from that of a posh boy attending boarding school in the English countryside as you could imagine.

However, the story of a "sensitive young weed" (Fry's words) struggling to find her place in the soulless outer suburbs of Melbourne, terrified of getting a "C" for Maths and worried that her art isn't "Arty" enough, doesn't make for such interesting reading. I never managed to get arrested, for a start...

Or did I?!?!
[cue dramatic music]

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