Unhappily Distracted

When you are one week away from dissertation deadline, and are so worried about being wastefully distracted from your finely-honed dissertation production routine that you have taken the dramatic step of packing up laptop, books, photocopied articles and a couple days’ worth clothing and hefting it all to Alec’s hopefully distraction-free flat, you don’t expect to find yourself having read two entire non-dissertation material books in two days at the end of it all.

Given that the last author you mentioned reading on this site was Salman Rushdie, it is even less expected that these two books will both have been written by Tony Hawks. Let me explain.

On Monday I wanted something to read over breakfast, and surveyed Alec’s bookcase. I should say, for the sake of fairness, that it does contain many fine volumes brimming with literary merit, but I don’t like that over breakfast when I am trying to write a dissertation, which is why I decided The Vision Of Dante (1894 edition, respect!), and Baudelaire, The Complete Verse would have to wait. Here were some of my other options:

  • Classic Irish Whisky, Jim Murray. Too basic. After all, I am an authority on Classic Irish Whisky Breath and have no need for such entry-level efforts.
  • The Catechism Of The Catholic Church. Perhaps some other time.
  • The Story Of Lucy Gault, William Trevor. I would have read this, but after Two Lives recently felt like struggling my way through a literary quicksand of depression and tragedy, I need a little time before my next foray into William Trevor world.
  • Playing The Moldovans At Tennis, Tony Hawks

Well, there you go then. It was riveting. I confessed my daytime exploits to Alec who found this highly amusing given my usual literary pretension.

On Tuesday I wanted something to read over breakfast, and surveyed the bookcase again. Here were further options:

  • Les Miserables (Volume Two). No volume one. Go figure.
  • On The Genealogy Of Morals, Nietzsche. A gift from me, I must confess. He read it politely. I owe me no such politeness.
  • The Ultimate Pipe Book, Richard Carleton Hacker. See entry for Classic Irish Whisky.
  • Round Ireland With A Fridge, Tony Hawks.

So Alec calls at lunch and asks solicitously how I’m doing with the dissertation. “Well,” I venture with quavering, self-hating voice, “Tony’s just left Ennistymon, they wanted to take the fridge scuba-diving but thought better of it in the end.”