Wednesday, 27 July 2011

An irritating man

In fact, he's more than irritating: he's infuriating! But we'll get onto that shortly. Meanwhile, let me ask you a question. Have you ever wondered about the origin and evolution of things; simple, everyday things? I'm not talking about the Big Bang Theory, the large hadron collider or Charles Darwin's On the Evolution of Species. I'm referring to matters far more mundane. Take bread, for example. I have often - OK, I have sometimes wondered what drove somebody to take the seeds of a certain wild grass, grind them to a powder, add water and bake to produce bread. Even in that over-simplified example there are no fewer than four discrete steps: selecting the grass, grinding the seeds, adding water and baking. That's without kneading, adding yeast etc etc. So why did anybody do it? And did whoever it was have any idea what the outcome might be or were they just, well, experimenting for the sake of experimenting? Then there are carrots. What impelled somebody to dig up the root of that plant and find it edible? How many other roots did they try before this one?

What never occurred to me was that I might be able to make money from random musings such as these. If I could expand upon them - and introduce a few other odd, unconnected thought jottings - I could produce a saleable book like one I read in France last week: Bill Bryson's At Home, the 500+ pages of which are described as 'a short history of private life'.

I implied earlier that I find Mr B an infuriating man. That, perhaps, is unfair of me. I have never had the pleasure (or otherwise) of making the acquaintance of the gentleman so I am judging him without hearing all the evidence in the case against him.

I first met Mr Bryson - or, rather, his work - a good many years ago when I was warned not to read Notes From a Small Island on the train to or from work. Other passengers would think me demented on account of my frequent giggles, I was advised. Since then, Mr B has made a career out of writing nothing much about quite a lot. Which is where the infuriation comes in. If he can do it, why can't I?

Mind you, he does seem to do a lot of research. His latest tome lists what is described as a "select" bibliography, presumably implying that the author has read all these titles and a few more besides. I don't know how many of the listed titles are lengthy books or how many are simply pamphlets, but there are nearly 500 titles listed in this select bibliography! (No, I didn't go to the trouble of counting them all. I simply counted one page and extrapolated from there.) I wouldn't want to force feed myself to that extent so maybe I will just content myself with a few unpaid ramblings like this one.

3 comments:

Uncle Skip, said...

"...maybe I will just content myself with a few unpaid ramblings..."

The advantage to that is the reader can't expect much in return for payment [HSWHTPFIHC]

Brighton Pensioner said...

And not much is certainly what you get!

(Cheeky s**!) ;>

Suldog said...

If (for some unfathomable reason) you wish to know all that needs to be known concerning growing up in America during the 1950's and 1960's, read his The Adventures Of The Thunderbolt Kid. It is truthful, hilarious, and the book that convinced me that I should stop trying to write such a tome myself, as Bryson's history of his childhood could not possibly be topped by mine.