Finished reading Death’s Jest-Book while in Athens. Just couldn’t keep my nose out of it and have now started Under World, reading it in tandem with finishing Ustinov’s Dear me which I am still thoroughly enjoying and am near to finishing. Haven’t got too far into Under World but find it very interesting in contrast to the two later novels, published 2002 and 2003. Under World is by a younger writer possibly a little less sure of himself, though I see it comes tenth in the list of works published, and from the punning title on is just a wee bit too clever clever, particularly in the use of little known, or not often used, words – diurnal, epochal (I knew epoch but not the adjective epochal), carapace – yes, I know what he’s getting at here but I’m not sure a tortoiseshell is the correct image, it brought me up short and interrupted the flow. Pudder! I can’t even find this in my Oxford dictionary. Is it a Yorkshire expression or a misprint? Paraclete? Had to look this one up and I remembered how annoyed I got with the novel Saturday having to constantly stop to look up words in the dictionary, and my vocabulary ain’t that small. I guess not being of a religious persuasion, Paraclete never entered my sphere of knowledge. It has now of course. Haruspical! What? What! This is really pushing the boat out and again this is not in my dictionary although haruspicies is though, having seen it, I have already forgotten what it means, something to do with forecasting from innards I seem to remember but could the future be foretold from Dalziel’s haruspical haemorrhoids? Do me a favour. Naughty Mr Hill who I admire so much. I see the publication date is 1988 so maybe that’s why it’s pudder for the course. I wonder how many more I will come across as I progress. I also find some of the writing just a teensy-weensy bit cringe making. For example: “She watched him walk away down Clay Street marvelling as always that from Billy Farr’s seed and her womb a creature of such grace and beauty could have spring.” Without wishing to be derogatory, just a little bit Women’s Own?
Yet another sudden strike which has meant no petrol and caused problems. Evidently it was customs officers this time. Over now fortunately, short and sweet, but strikes and demonstrations are definitely pudder for the course in Greece.