Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crete is wet, windy, and decidedly chilly. Winter has come early but, with the price of heating oil being what it is, let’s hope it doesn’t last too long. Firewood too has been upped in price, yet again, that’s three years running. I wonder what it feels like to have your multi-billion dollar fortune halved because of the recession. Is it painful to lose so much money or does one merely shrug it off? After all one has quite a few million left. For we poor mortals in the lowest middle section of fortune’s favours, a cash flow problem is serious business. The Greeks do love money, they love playing with it and I am still surprised they gave up their beloved drachma so easily because there was much much more to play with, bundles and bundles of the stuff. I remember when I bought the Skoda ten years ago I laid a carrier bag full of drachmas on the dealer’s desk and he immediately started to count it, flipping it expertly through his fingers. ‘What are you counting it for? It’s just come straight from the bank?’ ‘Don’t trust banks.’ Fortunately they can also be very generous and, as with our friendly garage owner, Haralambos, are inclined, once they know you, to grant you credit until you’re in a position to pay. ‘Pay me when you’ve got it.’ Of course credit is what has brought us to this pretty pass or, as I understand it, the greed of bankers in allowing credit to unworthy borrowers in order to increase their profits – they hoped – and look where their greed has got them. The unfortunate thing (apart from all those unfortunates who have lost their smallish amounts in comparison and those who lose their homes and are in dire financial trouble) is that the guilty moguls will go unpunished and probably rake in another fortune. In a way it’s fortunate not to have money to lose in the first place.
Still on the subject of money, and what follows is only my humble opinion Mr Copperfield, thinking of the writers who have become multi-millionaires from their work, I reckon JKR deserves hers because at least the “Harry Potter” books are an enjoyable read and well written whereas Dan Brown(e) can’t write for toffee and Jeffrey Archer is even worse and yet they run laughing all the way to their various banks. Have just started a book, don’t know where it came from, called “The Last Gospel” and am not too sure I’ll finish it. It’s another gigantic tome of 560 pages and on the inside of the front cover the author, pictured, tell us the books he writes are “fast paced adventure thrillers” and “full of the thrill and adrenaline and danger I’ve experienced myself around the world.” Well that’s a pretty self-congratulatory puff if ever I’ve heard one. The question is, does he live up to it? Well I have to admit I’m only on chapter two but in chapter one if Costas and our hero had grinned at each other just one more time, together with eyes aflame and face aflame I think I would have given up then and there. Having got on a bit further though I come across this line, “He gasped and whispered in his native German, ‘Mein Gott!’ Does that bring a smile to your face? Then a bit further on when this archaeologist has been joined underground by a colleague named Maria, she says, ‘Dios mia, oh my God!’ obviously in her native Spanish though it’s not stated as such. A little further on I came across a passage sounding like an academic lecture from an old buffer of a professor. I can’t quote at length because of copyright but there’s one thing a playwright or screen writer should dread above all else and that is the unintentional laugh and maybe the novelist should feel the same way because here, instead of taking it seriously, I’m afraid I laughed. However I will persevere a little more in the expectation of thrills and spills to come with less grinning and ‘my god’ in various languages..
Meanwhile my bedside book is “The Archivist’s Story” by Travis Holland. Again no one seems to know how it got here but I’m glad it did. Mister Holland does not blow his own trumpet but it is a gripping story well written and in which one really cares about the characters.
Dining at Nick and Jenny’s there’s always talk of books and writers and the opportunity to borrow. Had a choice of three last time and naturally plumped for the new Shardlake – “Revelation.” Fabulous! The Shardlake series is up there with my Russian detective, my Venetian detective and, of course, that very English detective, Thornton King. Ha ha ha! His next adventure hopefully coming out early next year.
Meanwhile we await the proof copy of “No Official Umbrella” which was posted a week ago today and still hasn’t arrived.

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