When I discovered that I was going go be sent directly to the hospital the other day without the chance to get home first I asked Cheeseboy to pack a bag for me and bring it to the hospital. Grab a book from the side table I asked, hoping he’d grab the Clive James book of essays I’d just had delivered. He remembered everything else, but forgot that.
Fortunately, I’d downloaded a book to my iPad before journeying to the hospital in August, prior to my surgery. I never read it then, but it was waiting for me this time – and it’s a perfect book for an extended hospital stay (I’m still here).
One of the people who introduced me to reading was my spinster aunt. My grandfather, who had a great library, played a part, as did my mother to some extent – and also my own precocious curiosity.
Every birthday and Christmas I could expect at least one book, exquisitely wrapped, to be presented to me. She has her own bookshelves also filled with quality classics and contemporary fiction, as well as history. She was a learned reader and fierce intellect. I read many books from her shelves.
I remember one of the books I plucked from them was James Clavell’s rollicking Taipan. This must have been the late seventies/early eighties. I loved that book. It was a great read and a wonderful insight into the history and culture of the times – British colonial expansion into China in the 1850s, and the establishment of Hong Kong.
I was big into books then, as I have been ever since. At some point I was a member of the Book of the Month club – quite a thing, then – and ordered in hardbacks of other Clavell books. He was a big writer for a while. I loved King Rat, and then I got Shogun.
That’s the book I’m reading again now. I loved it then – for the grand adventure and the fantastic writing about traditional Japanese culture, which I was much impressed with. I don’t think I’ve read it since the mid-eighties, though I watched a surprisingly good mini-series staring Richard Chamberlain back in the day.
What I’m saying is that reading it again now brings back many memories – and that I’m finding it as enthralling an experience as I did the first time around. I’m ripping through it, which is just what I need.
I’m only about a third through, but it’s a long book. I find I have to ration myself reading, as you do sometimes with the best books. God knows why I must now, I’ve got nothing better to do – habit, probably. A book like this at a time like now is a godsend. Time in hospital is bleak and sometimes painful and often tedious. Anything that gets you through it is welcome.
Tomorrow I’ll be home, to the hot bath I crave and my own bed. The things you cherish when you don’t have them. And back to Rigby.