Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Read All About It

Since last September, I made a dramatic change in my commuting habits. I stopped taking the bus after an horrendous 1 ½ hour ride on a 25-minute journey and switched to the much quicker Tube. Now I’m not a massive fan of the Tube; it’s always too hot, it’s stingingly expensive and more often than not, it’s FAR too full. But I have been hiding myself away in my own world when commuting, ears encased in some noise-cancelling headphones, and eyes focusing on a book. I used to read Metro, but when it dawned on me that the substance of Metro is mostly a) utter rubbish, and b) exceptionally Conservative, I decided to cultiver mon jardin, in the words of Voltaire. Since then I have read most of Paul Auster, some Ballard, and some odd things I found in the British Library (Scheerbaart) and second-hand bookshops (Cocteau’s ‘Maalesh’). But it was my Mum who got me onto Ian McEwan. I’d previously dismissed him (no idea why), and also I’m not a fan of period novels (Atonement), but on pressing a copy of ‘Saturday’ into my hand, I was hooked. The setting is all around where I went to uni, and the writing is clinically precise, but still warm and engaging. I quickly followed this up with a couple more of his; the beautiful ‘On Chesil Beach’ and the pretty disturbing ‘Cement Garden’. Now I’m back on to one of my favourites, Colette ‘The Pure and the Impure’. There’s nothing like some nineteenth century Parisian high society, debauchery and opium dens to liven up the commute. Get down to a good indie bookshop (Foyles, London Review Bookshop, Daunt, the Owl in Kentish Town, Prospero’s in Crouch End – anywhere but Tesco’s or Waterstones basically) and grab a book – guaranteed to improve any journey. Other Staples this week:
Reading Ian McEwan on the tube
Seeing The Whitest Boy Alive twice (Coalition in Brighton; Koko in Camden)
Getting out of London for a beautiful wedding
The Camden Arms
The ‘Great Gatsby’ look – Liberty print with chinos
DJing at the Fly on New Oxford Street
Being able to leave the house without a coat

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