I wondered why I didn’t recognise him.
‘I’ve lost 38 kilos,’ said Joss to Partner as they met en route to town, Partner on the bike and Joss walking.
I did a quick calc and it works out at six stone. Wow! Joss hadn’t been to the doctor, he’d just decided he needed to lose weight. And has it made a big difference.
He’s walking into the main market town twice a day, which is probably about eight kms away, and he’s cut down on his eating. Although I did see him carrying a bag full of yoghurts the other evening.
Even Partner eats a vegan diet in Spain, eschewing butter on his bread and eating toast with garlic, salt and olive oil. Meals are cheap and easy. Veg are fresh and local.
Day 1 – paella with peas, French beans and artichoke hearts (tinned), I used fresh garlic from the garden
Day 2 – bean slop with haricot beans, carrot, leek, celery, fresh onion, garlic, herbs out of the garden
Day 3 – pinto beans cooked in pressure cooker with garlic, onion, salt, fresh cilantro, refried with oil, cumin and chillies, served with flour tortillas, guacamole and salads
Day 4 – garbanzos with acelga out of the garden, left-over pasta and potato brought from the flat
Day 5 – paella with peas, broad beans, and a few remaining French beans
Day 6 – butter beans with peas and broad beans, onion, garlic and pasta
Evening meal every day is salad of varying combinations.
From the garden: nasturtiums, rocket, lettuce, parsley, basil, cilantro, mint
Bought: tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, avocado, grated carrot/white turnip
Tinned: artichoke hearts, sweetcorn
Pickles: gherkins, olives (bought but I add the herbs/garlic/chillis)
Prepared at home: marinated peppers, bean salad (haricot beans, french beans, garlic, herbs)
Given: lemons from a neighbour
The veg garden growing away happily needed no help from me. Weeding in one of the herb containers, prune the jasmine and plumbago and that was it. Cleaning? Did I really have no excuse not to clean the house?
I picked up a book I’d started on the journey up. Count to Ten by Karen Rose. I’d read a previous one back in Gib, You Can’t Hide, which was an OK read:
Cop meets psychiatrist through work, dislike at first sight, plus sexual attraction. You can guess the rest. But the police-y bit of the story was quite good. Lots of red herrings, and although the revelation of the baddie wasn’t a huge surprise, it was neatly done.
So onto Count to Ten. Here we’re dealing with an arsonist. A murdering, raping, torturing, dismembering sort of arsonist. Rose follows the previous formula of two professionals meeting up and instantly disliking each other but they still manage to fall in lust. In this case we have a cop and a fire marshall who are teamed up because of an arson homicide case. Again the detective-y bit was OK, but this is exactly the sort of book that gives me nightmares. Literally. After I had finished it I managed a series of stupid nightmares that night. The following night, no nightmares. I decided to reread parts of it the next day … and … yes, more nightmares. So if like me, you don’t have the stomach for rape at knifepoint, throat slashing, guts being ripped out, tying women up virtually naked, coating victims with fire accelerant while they are alive so that they burn in agony, this may not be the book for you. Or skip the gory bits.
But You Can’t Hide is worth a read if you like cop (Chicago Police Department) stories with a slug of sex/romance. Luckily the sex isn’t quite as graphic as the murders in Count to Ten. Or maybe it was just less offensive.
As ever, I’m left wondering who enjoys reading these gory details, and why people write about it?
It’s like slowing down to look at a pile-up on a motorway. I’ve never understood that either.
Desperate for something different I clicked on the last book I’d downloaded. The Rowan Tree by Robert Fuller.
I couldn’t remember what it was about so just dived in. It starts off in the seventies when the new president of a college wants to make significant reforms in line with student requests, primarily student representation and more black students and black faculty members.
Promising, I thought. And then from 1970–72 we are catapulted ahead to 1990–92 and introduced to the next generation, and centre stage moves from America to the world. Well, Asia, Africa and Europe at any rate. The book moves through the end of the 20th century, into the 21st, and ends in the future in 2029.
There are a handful of main characters which makes life easy. Societal taboos are challenged: inter-racial relationships in the 70s, incest, and even making deals with Russians and Chinese!
But the crux of the book is about treating people differently. Allowing people dignity. In Spain, people say ‘Don’t lack respect’. Whether it’s for the grass (don’t walk on it), or for people. It amounts to the same thing. Sort of like Charles Dickens and The Water Babies. (The two Mrs Do as …)
What Fuller is proposing through his book, is a different societal order. It’s optimistic, looking at younger generations of mixed races who are fluent in lots of languages, not the standard French, Spanish, German, Italian of my generation and his, but Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Mandarin, Tagalog, Swahili, Urdu. And ultimately, hopes to base a (brave?) new world on ensuring everyone has personal dignity.
Although, where I wondered, was the dividing line between dignity and pride? A difficult one.
These main characters are also monied, educated people who switch seamlessly between politics, academia and the arts. I mean, that is really most of us, isn’t it?
Regardless of the idealism, the premise is interesting. The book is stronger on race than it is on women, but what’s new? The arts, primarily photography, and dance (ballet) are used to good effect to show that change is about more than political rhetoric. Arts too, contribute to change.
Fuller is a physicist and a leader of the dignity movement against rankism. Another ism no less. Got to love privileged western men pontificating about life. His ideas have merit though. Just tell it to the politicians, the bankers and the directors of global conglomerates.
It’s worth a read, good-to-average prose with few mistakes (apostrophes and quotation marks), but the story is well told as a (partly autobiographical) vehicle for Fuller’s ideas. Recommended.
Both are also worth a read.