Beetroot, vertigo, re-reading


Someone tweeted the headline of a Daily Mail article by David Pierce about the Jeremy Corbyn not-much-of-a-story (the left-wing Labour leader having accepted an invitation to Passover Seder from a left-wing Jewish group, which he attended in a personal capacity): ‘They raised a beetroot in the air and shouted f*** capitalism’. The Librarian observed, with some justice, that it sounded like an ordinary family lunch at her parents’ house when we visit. Although, at the risk of seeming pedantic—moi?—it sounds, more specifically, like the Librarian at an ordinary family lunch at her parents’ house.

Post-Easter, the hot cross buns are gone but a few bottles of wine have survived thus far, stoically resigned to their fate. While the Librarian paints the newly plastered walls of the Space formerly known as the Kitchen, I make coffee and busy myself elsewhere, precluded from such things, being a reluctant beneficiary of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This means that, for instance, tipping my head to look directly upwards can trigger an intense and disorientating giddiness. Painting ceilings or the upper reaches of walls is not, then, the ideal pastime.

Now I recognise the symptoms—and know it’s only temporary—it’s less alarming. The first time it happened, in the early hours of the morning—and it was the worst attack I’ve had—I thought I was having a stroke. Curiously, the two ambulance-men, who arrived very quickly (I doubt if they would be able to do so now), were the only people I’ve had direct contact with whom I thought genuinely deserved—though they were less likely to be interested in—the crazy sums that are routinely paid to business executives, stockbrokers, university vice-chancellors and the like. With most of the latter, too, it’s clear what they’re taking out of the world but often rather less evident what they’re putting in.

Meanwhile, having reached the end of my re-reading Penelope Fitzgerald phase and moved on to my re-reading Elizabeth Bishop one, I still frantically plug gaps or read books that I could have sworn I’d read years ago, currently Antoine Saint-Exupéry and Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the oh-my-God-have-you-really-not-read-this-yet pile continues, unaccountably, to grow. It would be delusional to pretend I’m winning.


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