30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Eight
So I saw the above list on Facebook and decided it was worth giving a go. Every day for the month of April, I’ll be putting together a short blog on the chosen topic. But of course since I have a life and responsibilities, I might have written it a few days in advance and scheduled it to appear on my blog for the right day! So, with that in mind, here’s today’s blog.
“8. A book you love and one you didn’t”
I’m going to cheat a little bit here, because the book I love – although physically one book and therefore still fitting the challenge – is actually made up of five.
In 2003 I went to see Celtic play in the UEFA Cup final in Seville. I’ve spoken of that experience before, but the way we did it was to book a week’s holiday in Benidorm. That amounted to one day to Seville, one day back, and five days of a holiday to lounge around the pool and watch Celtic not win the league on Teletext.
Again, that’s a blog for another day.
The five days by the pool were five days I spent reading my book – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I was so engrossed in it that I read one a day for five days.
That holiday is possibly one of the few times that everything about me was summed up in a short space of time. From football to a comedy book set in a sci-fi environment, that’s just me in a nutshell. The fact I was doing it sitting in the sun by a pool and occasionally listening to music through my headphones just topped it off.
Curiously, it all goes full circle. I sat there reading because I went to see Celtic in a European final. When Douglas Adams, the man who wrote the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, passed away far too soon on March 11th 2001, his fans had an idea. Exactly two weeks later, they honoured him be declaring it “Towel Day”, a reference to the most useful item any galactic hitchhiker could have. Towel day has become an annual event, not on the date of his death but that same date two weeks later – May 25th. By some bizarre coincidence, that date is also arguably the most famous in Celtic’s history as it was May 25th 1967 that Celtic won the European Cup – their first European final.
There are many incarnations of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book, the radio plays, the TV series, the movie, the computer game… I’ve covered them all across the years. The TV series was the first that I saw, and as cheesy as it may look now as it’s about as old as me and made by the BBC, I still love it. But the book is still my favourite incarnation and it’s one I read every so often. I rarely read any book more than once, so that says a lot.
At the other end of the scale, a book I didn’t love is probably one I read at school. English classes tended to subject you to all sorts of nonsense. Shakespeare is usually one that springs to mind for most people, but to be honest I actually think he was a decent storyteller. His English was appalling though, even for the period! My standard grade teacher took us through the Merchant of Venice and I really enjoyed that so to this day it’s probably still my favourite of his.
However, that same teacher subjected me to Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. I’m sure it’s a literary classic, but to be honest it’s seriously depressing. There’s all sorts in there. A mother killing herself and her twins, a father wanting to sleep with his daughter, being stuck on a farm because you’ve no other choice even though you want to leave… actually, that last one sounds like Star Wars. I don’t think I can do it justice here, but it’s disturbing to the point of creepiness. Why would you want to teach all that in a school?!
I was never a huge fan of that English teacher. She had her good moments, like wanting to use Star Trek to illustrate a morality story, but then she had a habit of giving me a lower grade than I knew I deserved. That ultimately affected my schooling negatively to the point I was forced into doing the longer path to Higher English even though my eventual results showed I was capable of doing the shorter one. This caused so many problems that eventually I packed in Higher English altogether and did other exams instead. Fortunately that didn’t have a negative effect on my life, but it could easily have done so given how much emphasis is placed on having Higher English.
So is that why I don’t like Sunset Song? Maybe it plays a part, but if that’s the case then why do I have such a fondness for The Merchant of Venice?
Maybe Sunset Song is just garbage.