I READ A BOOK!
Smoking is the only addiction for which my ridiculous lifestyle (ie that of an Australian middle class employed parent circa 2004) affords the time (yes, I know it squares the ledger eventually, but you know what I mean). I know I'd excel at a host of others and, in the unlikely event I outlive the economic need to deny myself, the list of things in which I'd repetitively and excessively indulge would be, well, unsurprising.
One of the things I've marked down for my stay at the Betty Ford Clinic is working my way through this modest collection
. I love historical fiction. As with pizzas, old Dr Who episodes, cigarettes, sex and coffee I am perfectly content when what's on offer is bad and wordlessly, gratefully ecstatic when it is good. If memory serves, I may already have mentioned The Aubreiad
in passing (in which wondrous sweep the ancien regime and nascent modernity ride the waves of The Age Of Reason
and its offshoot, The Age Of Revolution
, together with edifying congeniality). I might also make mention of Harry Flashman
, who takes us under his manly arm to share with us a career as brilliant and honourable as that of the empire for which he nearly fought on occasion. Who meticulously fills in for us that troublesome gap between Tom Brown's Schooldays
and Sherlock Holmes
. And who takes the trouble to describe with an artist's eye the opulent bed-chambers of the many important ladies in whose wanton persons circumstance so often obliged him to instal himself.
I am just this minute returned from a campaign that has taken me from Northern Greece to Egypt, and thence to India and back as far as Babylon. I did not apprehend my ever-changing-though-ever-less-strange surroundings and acquaintances as might an historian
, a politico
or a gossip
(though I love 'em all), but as heroic visionary, loving eunuch and, come the inevitable, dispassionate chronicler of decay and disintegration. I've just finished reading Mary Renault's *Alexander Trilogy*
(*Fire From Heaven*, *The Persian Boy* and *Funeral Games*) and must confess to having been wordlessly, gratefully ecstatic throughout. Aye, and gratefully ecstatic still.
That'll be my last book reviewlette until next summer - for obvious and poignant reasons - so it's a good thing Danny Yee