Sunday, 15 March 2009

Hey Kafka, Come Take A Look At This

I went to hospital the other day to have blood taken for a project I might be taking part in. I sat in a waiting room dotted with slumped, exhausted looking people, all isolated from one another by their misery; it was like being in a frogspawn of worry.
The nurse described the system they would use for checking tissue type.
If the outcome was positive, this was bad news. If the outcome was neutral it was similar to a bad marriage, but with no divorce on the cards & if it was negative, that was good.

Afterwards I met a probation officer friend for lunch. He was in a state of exasperated despair having just come from a meeting of senior civil servants at the Home Office. They had bemoaned prison overcrowding, but boasted about the PPP Public Protection programme for those serving sentences involving violence. Before being considered for release, attendance of this shiny new programme is mandatory.
My friend was there to confirm that the prison he had visited was indeed overcrowded. Hundreds languishing with no release date in sight because their programme was not available.

Tomorrow is the inaugural gala dinner of our new book club.
The members: Jess, Ornella, Joe , Ned & me. Jess initiated it after she got frustrated with her previous book club because they never discussed the book at hand, getting distracted instead by pre-crunch boastathons about who was next off to Gshtd & Mauritius.

Now, here's the thing: somehow War&Peace was chosen [1224 pages] as our first book.
Jess is in the lead on p250 and has found all the characters of Wisteria Lane in there. Next is me on p185 & then Ornella, who has come to a juddering halt on p15. Joe & Ned have refused to read it at all - in fact Joe dared to say he was leaving us.
I was able to put him straight on that, telling him that this was a Roach Motel book club; you can check in, but you can't check out, unless it's in concrete slumberwear.

We are meeting to celebrate the fact that Jess left a book club that doesn't discuss the work, to form a club that won't do the reading. If only we had chosen Kafka. Then again, who needs to read him when you can create a version of his world and deliver it in 3D to your book club founder. 

Joe & I are so excited by what has happened, we have decided to start up a Film Club.  The point of which will be long list of arcane regulations, unworkable sub-clauses & instant traditions that can be endlessly referred to & overruled,  on condition of the addition of further rules.
Whether we ever reach a cinema is doubtful.

Mid-week update:
It was decided at the gala dinner that War & Peace was not suitable for a monthly book club and after this, we will chose shorter works. After much discussion, about whether we were going to move towards the lyrical, satirical, dystopian or pastoral, we put it to a vote. 
The result was Tintin in Tibet, in a landslide.

To celebrate, we sent texts to a random selection of unwary friends saying, ‘Great news! You’ve been voted into the Roach Motel book club.’
A few querulous ‘Do you mean me?’ texts came back, which got the reply:
‘ Yes.  Now, do as you’re told & prepare a short dissertation on 
‘Snowy. An allegory of the id?' for next month.
If I’d known the limitless possibilities offered by a book club, I would have joined one years ago.

PS. Non-sequential Political Comment:
David Cameron's interview apologising for any Conservative mistakes leading up to this Depression, was so overtly political, you could almost hear the gentle clack of wood on wood as his chess piece put Brown in check.