Thursday, 25th of January
Whoops! I didn’t take any photos today. Perhaps that due to the return of the prodigal boss, who after being off for a week of holidays, is now back in action. Needless to say a flurry of activity took place today, so we’ll chalk my lack of photos up to that one.
It was kinda a boring day though, really. Although the one highlight was the start of my second audiobook of the year. Boy did I miss them–and so far I’ve picked two absolute crackers to start with in 2018! (Maybe I’ll actually achieve my Goodreads goal this year, eh?)
This book is called, simply, You, by author Caroline Kepnes. The thing about my Goodreads massive To-Read list is half the time I have literally no idea where my choices come from. Did someone recommend You to me? Did I see it on a list somewhere? It’s not even a book that I would normally have picked, so it remains a mystery to me even now.
You is the story of a young man working in a bookstore. One day a lovely young woman breezes into his shop. They exchange banter and some serious flirting, and the narrator’s romantic heart is captured. His thoughts are whimsical and kinda sweet.
“If we were teenagers, I could kiss you. But I’m on a platform behind a counter wearing a name tag and we’re too old to be young.”
She pays with credit card. He glances at the name… and that’s when everything changes. Guinevere Beck. This is the catalyst of the entire story: what’s in a name in today’s technological world? As it turns out, everything. Public facebook profiles, twitter accounts, everything is readily accessible to the seeking eye. And, as it happens, our narrator is very interested. Interested enough to place himself in Beck’s path again and again, slowly and methodically interweaving his life with hers. He’ll go to any lengths to protect her–even if it means taking obstacles out of her life. Friends, old lovers. Nothing is too much for the girl he’s claimed as his own.
“Oh Beck, I love reading your e-mail. Learning your life. And I am careful; I always mark new messages unread so that you won’t get alarmed. My good fortune doesn’t stop there; You prefer e-mail. You don’t like texting. So this means that I am not missing out on all that much communication. You wrote an “essay” for some blog in which you stated that “e-mails last forever. You can search for any word at any time and see everything you ever said to anyone about that one word. Texts go away.” I love you for wanting a record. I love your records for being so accessible and I’m so full of you, your calendar of caloric intake and hookups and menstrual moments, your self-portraits you don’t publish, your recipes and exercises. You will know me soon too, I promise.”
Sound… fascinatingly creepy? Well boy howdy it’s got me. I sort of waded into this one with trepidation, thinking it would take something very different to shake off my zombie book. And yet You is a morbidly intriguing look into a carefully crafted web of “chance” encounters, the right thing said at the right time, and just wondering when the house of cards will tumble down. Caroline Kepnes is a brilliant author. It’s a bit scary to feel so invested in the story of a stalker, and even feeling kinship with him at times (his thoughts on mouth breathers at Ikea, his dealings with customers in his shop). What does that say about us all, or more importantly, me?
“I love Stephen King as much as any red rum drinking American, but I resent the fact that I, the bookseller, am his bitch.”
We’ll see how this one winds up, eh?
Friday, 26th of January
Because H had to work late last night, we postponed movie night to today. Our original choice wasn’t available, so H settled on a documentary called Williams. A pretty ambiguous sounding name to be sure–it could literally be about anything. But, go figure, it was about Formula 1.
I don’t think F1 is a big thing in the south–or is it? I wouldn’t really know, being relatively uninterested in Nascar and cars and things like that (although Nascar & Formula 1 are, I now realize, pretty wildly different). H surprised me when he told me he was into F1. For a guy who isn’t really into sporty stuff, he does dig his F1, and sets aside time to catch up on the races when they happen. I can’t claim to really understand it and often ask him “Who won, hurf durf” when they’re just doing preliminaries.
But thanks to him I now have a very, very rudimentary understanding of Formula 1. Each race happens at big race courses all over the world, called Grand Prix. There are lots of different teams, but it’s the big auto companies that carry the most weight, and more importantly, money to invest into their automobiles. Top teams are Mercedes and Ferrari for that very reason. The more money they have, the more they can shave off the time needed to bag the races, the more money they get, etc.
Williams, though, takes a look at a smaller team with far less expenditure available. Frank Williams was a bloke from England who, despite his lack of money, combined his passion for cars and racing to somehow form a team in the ’60s. He was eventually forced out by his lack of funds, and had to start anew with the current Williams team–which, despite the odds, did manage to go the distance with two drivers, Nigel Mansell (English) and some Italian chap whose name at the moment I can’t be bothered to look up for myself.
If that really shoddy description doesn’t do it for you, well, trust me. This story is about more than that. It’s about his wife Ginny who was always behind the scenes, somehow pulling the strings and supporting her husband despite his absences in her and her childrens’ lives, despite his strong-mindedness and focus on his team over that of his family. It’s about his daughter Claire who now directs the Williams team, about the son left in the shadows. And it’s, most importantly, about a tragic road accident that happened to Frank Williams himself–result in his quadripelegic state for the rest of his life, with only remaining use of some of his shoulders, head, and neck–just enough to push himself along in his own wheelchair, despite the lack of feeling in his arms, and the uselessness of his own hands.
Surprisingly I found this documentary very engaging. F1 is nothing if not a make-or-break sport, and it was incredibly dangerous in the good old days–cars would go up in flames almost instantly. (My only other F1 film I’ve ever watched is called Crash, and about Niki Lauda who somehow miraculously survived his own tragic accident while racing, still to this day sporting the horrific scars of the incident.) I even cried at the end listening to Ginny’s recitation of how it felt to see Frank after his accident. Even more so when Frank said he would probably never read the book. Can you imagine how you would feel, knowing you yourself were to blame for your accident, not only having to experience your own suffering but knowing that if you read your wife’s words you would have to experience hers as well all because of something you did? Heartbreaking.
Her book is called A Different Kind of Life, by Virginia Williams, if that inspires any interest. And the movie, again, was called Williams.
Saturday, 27th of January
Ahhhh, another blessed day off. While H managed to cram a few errands into his morning, I contented myself with sitting around on my bum. In fact I was so content it was hard to work up enough energy to do much of anything–but I did, eventually, meander down to the train station to head into Edinburgh. It takes certain things to drag me out of my hobbit-hole, but seeing my mates and doing some bouldering did the trick!
Here’s wee Natalie doing her thing, bless her. She had a cold and still mustered up the energy to join us, no complaints. Seems a bit unfair really–I turn into a steaming pile of donkey doo when I get anything resembling a cold, and here she is, looking like someone slipped a bouldering model into the mix!
After climbing, the hunt for grub was on. What we failed to really mind was that it was Saturday night in Edinburgh, and perhaps, just maybe, we should have made a reservation. However, after maybe three places asking us, “Have you made a reservation?” then practically rolling their eyes at us at our answering, “Noooo??” we finally found a place to bunker down and stuffed face with delicious curry. (Shoutout to Shezan for putting up with us!)
I find that something about this gang of friends brings out my loudest American. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was just that I think they’re all so great… maybe both! Either way, a jolly good evening.