‘How will we recognize him?’
– laughter – ‘You’ll recognize him.’
And we did indeed recognize Yoga Ben, our house guest for the weekend, who was an unmissable presence in Big Slope from the instant of his arrival, bohemian even for the west end. We were relieved to discover that he ate pizza, and was humorous and ironical and generally good company. He enlisted on me on a 6.30 AM run through Kelvingrove Park, which was a joy. It was a beautiful weekend in Glasgow, and it felt quite special to be out before everyone else was up, in the cold Saturday morning sun.
And it even got hot later on, so I spent the weekend catching up on vitamin D. On Saturday afternoon, Steph and I took a walk in the park while Ben was at Yogacon17 and we had lunch at Jelly Hill. Famous comedian Kevin Bridges walked past, I think with a takeaway. What a buzz! On Sunday we took a 25km walk to Dumgoyne and back, and were surprised to find the trail quiet, although the Beech Tree pub was packed. Ninety minute wait for food! the intimidating manager cried. Fortunately, the food at the Beech Tree is beyond ghastly so we had come with a packed lunch. We did have a perfectly enjoyable pint, but even this was slightly soured by memories of ‘Cullen Skink’ past. Further ruminating however, I find I can’t praise the animals they keep enough. Is £7 for tinned soup served cold reasonable if it includes views of miniature ponies, lazy rabbits, and goats (just goats, no adjective)? Probably not.
Turning to literay matters, I am sad to announce that this week I suffered another in a string of rejections. This time it was the Commonwealth Writers Prize who deemed me unworthy. Bastards, I thought, as I always think, whenever anyone publishes or awards anyone who isn’t me. I have also recently been rejected by Gutter, Writers & Artists, the Scottish Book Trust, and the Caledonia Novel Prize. Not that I’m bitter. I read that JK Rowling was rejected 42 times before she finally had an offer accepted on a castle; so I understand that rejection is part of being a writer. Or anything in fact – thinking about it, I must have been rejected for at least fifty jobs in my life. I remember thinking every single rejector was a bastard at the time, but now I’d struggle to remember one.
Which brings me on to a rejection of my own: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I sort of came into this in a bad way. There was a two-for-one deal on and I wanted the Children Act by Ian McEwan anyway, so I thought I may as well pick this up at the same time. I struggled on for the first 120 pages; my interest was occasionally piqued by news of a whore or a murder, but eventually I just thought: I could die any day. ANY DAY IT COULD HAPPEN. And not even a sex-murder rampage by gang of teenage goth fembots from space would stop this book from being turgid, humourless and unironical. Dear reader, I was bored. So I returned it. Perhaps unwisely, I replaced it with The Secret History by Donna Tartt, whose Goldfinch I hate hate hate hate hated.
Other than this, the past week has seen me swept up with University Challenge fever. As charming as Seagull is, all right-thinking people knew he was no match for Monkman. Which is easy for me to claim, with the benefit of hindsight. I have also started planning my summer walking holiday; dates have been confirmed in July (I think more or less) and I think the route has been narrowed down to any one of several. Progress nonetheless! I think I favour either the Rob Roy Way or maybe just renting a cabin that has access to several munros and doing day trips. Sunshine is always helpful in inspiring holiday planning.
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