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August 9, 2002
Possible prognosis: myxomatosis
It's now been nine days since I got sick, and I'm still sick. It's moved around a little, so now I just have deep bone tiredness and a tendency to fall asleep every few minutes.
I can't be certain, but I think I'm still sick because I decided not to reread The Lord of the Rings, my ancient cure for every known ailment. I find that rereading a long, favourite book is a way of acknowledging one's condition, and finding something replenishing and enjoyable to do while under the weather. It's also a good way of giving one's body a time frame for recovery. It's a way of saying "by the time Frodo gets to Mordor, I want to be just about ready to face the world again."
But when I got sick this time I decided that I didn't want to be sick long enough to reread all of The Lord of the Rings. As a result, nine days have gone past - enough time, surely, to have read the whole thing again - and yet I'm still sick.
As a compromise, I'm now rereading Watership Down. I hope this works. I'm really taking chances with my health here. (One day, I'm going to write Sean's Guide to Health. I'm not expecting to sell many copies.)
I'm enjoying the hell out of Watership Down. It's also an old favourite, and it's fairly long. And, as has happened so often here at SoFo, it reminds me of something ...
Muscles and the bunny book
Nearly a decade ago, just before I went travelling, I rang up Muscles and asked if she wouldn't mind looking after a few books for me while I was away. This was complicated by the fact that Muscles knows me well.
"A few books?" she asked. "How many is a few books?"
"Well," I had to admit, "a few hundred books. But there are some bookshelves that go with them, if that helps at all."
"Hmmm," she said, which I took as an ecstatic, delighted yes.
Muscles did a fine job of looking after the books for something like nine years. Every so often I'd get a phone call asking what she should read next. I would frequently recommend one particular book, but doing so always produced a response of sniggering laughter. Eventually she tired of sniggering laughter, so she upgraded to snorted mockery.
"You should read Watership Down," I would say. (Cue: sniggering.)
"Watership Down?" she would always say, with tangible disbelief in her voice, "the bunny book?"
I eventually learned that there was no dissuading a sniggering Muscles. Over time, I even learnt not to recommend Watership Down by its real title. I would just say, quietly and firmly, "read the bunny book. The bunny book is great."
One day I got a phone call. There was a change in her voice.
"I'm reading Watership Down," she said. There were tears very, very close to the surface.
"Oh good," I said, "are you enjoying it?"
There was a shocked pause, and then she answered: "of course I'm enjoying it. It's a fantastic book. I can't believe I spent so much time not reading this." (Cue: some sniggering of my own, nine years in the making.)
And Muscles told me something else, which gladdened my heart. She loved the book so much that she was going to convince her mum to read it, too. She'd even formulated a strategy to win her mum over.
"Hang on," I said, "why do you need to formulate a plan?"
"Well," she said, "Mum still calls it 'the bunny book.'"Posted by Sean Hegarty at 08:58 PM in the Boring old news category | Comments (0)
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