How often does one pick up a book that grips you from the very first page and simply won’t let you go until reluctantly you reach the end? I have just finished reading such a one. To hell with your ‘Da Vinci Codes,’ this is a real thriller, brilliant in fact, and it is all about… a book. Yes, that’s it. A rare, beautiful and very special book but a book nevertheless. I have to thank our guest from Tasmania, Ray Bluett for leaving this book here as I had never heard of the Australian author, Geraldine Brooks. What a discovery! I’m not surprised she is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Her writing is beautiful and what a story! I know in the postscript she gives thanks to a lot of people for their assistance but even so her erudition is something to wonder at. How come not very good writing (no names) can fly off the shelves by the millions and genuine writing like this, as far as I am aware, doesn’t seem to be such a big seller when it damn well ought to be. I know it says on the cover ‘the international best seller’ but publishers tend to put that anyway. I hope it has and will continue to have a really terrific readership. My word, I am so envious, in then nicest possible way.
It would seem the Indian summer is over: howling gales, torrential rain, thunder and lightning, hail, sleet and a distinct drop in temperature – we’ve had them all in the last forty-eight hours, even a smattering of snow, not enough to talk about really. It’s a few years since we last saw snow but it really has got very cold. The animals lie around the wood stove and move only to eat or use their box. Poor Merrill has to go outside but she’s back in a flash. Naturally with thunder and lightning virtually over the rooftops just before going to bed there was a power cut that lasted till the early morning. Power came back on about six o’clock and until then it was blackout and use a torch time when necessary.
What does one make of the student riots in London protesting the rise in university fees? The Labour government has a lot to answer for and you can add this to the list. They’re the ones who made out it is everybody’s right to have a university education when it so obviously is not so. In the first place, despite the upgrading of technical colleges etcetera to university status there simply aren’t enough places and especially, in order to garner higher fees, the universities encourage foreign students to apply for places. Secondly not everyone is material for higher education and indeed there evidently appears to be many a drop-out. I have personal experience of that from teaching in America where at least two if not more in my classes were simply not up to it and were only there so the university could fill its ethnic quota. Unfair on those students really. I’m a good one to talk considering I flunked exams two years running.
Of course there’s nothing new about student demonstrations turning into riots: they’ve done it in Paris, in Athens of course, I am sure in other cities and now in London. The fact that the demonstration is going to turn into a riot goes without saying. Student leaders simply cannot ban or control the vandals, the hooligans, the thugs for taking the opportunity of joining in. Is it possible that an ordinary student, no matter how strongly he or she feels would launch an attack on the Prince of Wales and his wife in their car? I don’t think so. At least I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just how stupid can you get?