.. I'm avoiding saying it.
However, interesting things are being said by Joff about the idea of "Chav"*; by AJ Hall about responsibility in writing (see also here) in response to an essay on the same found here; and by Henry on Crooked Timber about the future of European politics.
Yes, this is a poor excuse for a links post, really intended purely for my own convenience, though you should all go and read these wise words of wisdom. Blame it on the boogie. And if necessary, apply the last paragraph of this post by PNH on the new, merged Making Light as general advice for dealing with all problems that may arise.
I bought two books in Foyles on my way home. To my immense irritation, I realised on the tube that I had bought, read (and loved) one of them (Robin Hobb's Golden Fool) several months ago (for some reason I thought I'd read a library copy, ok?). To my even more intense irritation I haven't yet reached the end of the first chapter of the second, Margaret Doody's Aristotle and Poetic Justice, a historical crime novel with the interesting conceit of Aristotle as the great detective, and I've already thrown it on the floor in a fit of boredom twice.
The problem with the book can be simply summed up: infodump. The author has done her research, and by god is she going to let us know it: so far we've had exposition on the process of passing laws in Athens at the time, a discussion of social structures and relationships, a digression on the basis of the Athenian economy with the surprising and staggering information that being a slave in the silver mines at Laurion wasn't very pleasant, some information about lawsuits, a quick rundown on the Peloponnesian War, a discussion of marriage law, and more. In ten pages. As for Aristotle, he hasn't appeared.
What we haven't had is anything that looks like the semblance of the smidgeon of a hint of (a) a plot, or (b) character exposition. Except that the first person narrator seems to be the kind of intensely dull person who would at a moment's notice launch into a story a la Ancient Mariner and then divert into explaining the British parliamentary system and the process for passing bills, including an exposition on the committee stage. Since he's a first person narrator, one presumes that the people to whom he is hypothetically addressing himself might actually know as much about this stuff as they wished, no?
Failing to research the setting for a novel properly is, in my view, a Bad Thing. That doesn't mean that you have to spill every detail you've researched instantly. Lindsey Davis is a prime example of how to do it: sending Falco to the mines rather than telling us they existed and weren't very nice for instance, at least up until A Body in the Bathhouse, where she'd obviously been lectured to, and enthused by, someone who knew about recent excavation work there in detail.
Perhaps, with that terrible burden, the benefit of a classical education (and a degree in ancient and modern history -modern history starting with Constantine and, for me, not including any courses from after 1485-) I'm being unfair. It's certainly true that I find it particularly irritating because I still remember enough of all-nighters spent writing essays on the Athenian constitution. But I don't know that I'd find the equivalent information in, say, a novel set in the British Raj, any less irritating and I know sweet FA about that. Sod this, where's the Kipling I was reading gone?
Well, actually it doesn't, right now. Nevertheless, it was recently and it doubtless will be again soon.
I've spent the afternoon pleasantly drafting some very rude pleadings. Probably too rude actually, I shall leave them overnight and probably tone them down in the morning. It's quite possible they still show the signs of the original half-draft which was made, in breach of my stated intentions, yesterday evening while mildly under the influence of some New Cheap Booze I discovered (sort of Greek port, 4.99 a bottle can't be wrong). Contrary to the impression I sometimes fear I give, I do try and be professional (and if anyone's ever wondered, if I seem to be saying things I Ought Not here the chances are I've sufficiently edited and fictionalised the true state of affairs), and one of my rules is that unless a matter is Screaming Urgent I leave things overnight and redraft them in the cold light of morning. Someone I know, of some years seniority to me, made the mistake once of sending out pleadings drafted after a long and liquid lunch... his application to amend, made, of course, at his personal expense (one suspects he didn't want BMIF involved) was not an easy one to present I believe.
I also wrote a chapter of New Thing yesterday: that too will probably need revision.
Was supposed, on her invitation, to be going for a drink with The Girl Upstairs (who has indeed dumped boyfriend), but it didn't happen. Ho hum. Watch this space. Or not, as the case may be.
Conversations with my bank manager are much more entertaining now it isn't simply a sea of red. Having first had an argument with them over whether it was my problem or theirs that a restaurant I went to a month or so ago had charged me twice for the bill (theirs) we then embarked on a discussion of why, precisely, I had been charged for an overdraft.
"Well, you must have gone over your free overdraft limit."
"Please to point out where, precisely, I went into the red at all."
"So I'd like you to check that each and every bank charge I've ever incurred from you was properly made."
I emerge triumphant and leave, pausing only to kick a small puppy.
Budapest was, as I've already indicated, a fun weekend, though heavier on the drinking than the cultural side. We stayed on a boat, (or botel, if neologisms don't make your fillings ache) which was perhaps a little on the small side, but reasonably convenient and cheap. I can't say I recommend the "Porn and Mafia" tour, or at least, those going on it should be prepared for a mysterious lack of any mafia and the porn being limited to the guide allegedly being an ex-porn star, also for Strange American Girls whose intentions are vague (muttermutter); but otherwise a clear success.
I also managed to have a proper Idea about something I could write for the first time in ages while I was there, though I can't quite see any connection between the idea and the weekend.
There are three things I could do tonight: go to a Chancery Bar Association lecture rivetingly entitled "Ramsay 25 years on: the future of tax avoidance" (the Annual Lecture and the high point of the ChBA's year); go to a concert at Westminster Cathedral of renaissance stuff for Lent (which is actually quite tempting); or sweet FA. The last seems the most likely.
I tracked down, through no less than three degrees, the Opportunity that seemed to be available last week... unfortunately I was informed by the penultimate link that she has a boyfriend. Ho hum. I am now confused on whether this shows my decision to turn it down, on the grounds she was too drunk to know what she was doing, to be the height of wisdom or the depths of folly.
Godawful miserable day, grim weather, tired, spent too much money on dull things, nothing in brain today, blah.
Just re-read Donna Tartt's Secret History for the first time since shortly after it came out. Sadly disappointing now, I found myself loathing each and every one of the characters, except Camilla...
And my semi-serious plan of joining the Historical Crime Craze by being the first to write a Byzantine Lindsey Davis type thing (I know, not particularly original but it had potential I thought) has been done by some 26 year old while I procrastinated.
I am going to go and get drunk now. I may be some time.