Category Archives: Books

How the blog got its name

It is Saturday and I am enjoying the sheer luxury of a whole day to myself. I am in the middle of a two week stint of being home alone at the moment, for the first time in about 4 years. Obviously, I am missing Mr Farli, probably increasingly so as the week goes on, but having this thinking space is lovely.

My perfect day of self-indulgence began somewhat earlier than I had intended. I was woken at 2.30am by the LOUDEST thunderstorm I have ever heard. In my rather befuddled state I staggered round unplugging modems and suchlike things, which woke me up enough to stay awake for the next hour. I wouldn’t mind, but I thought thunderstorms were supposed to clear the air. It is still just as oppressive today as it was before.

After a bit more of a snooze, I drove out to throw myself into battle in the Next summer sale. Oh how I hate clothes shopping, but when I do go shopping I end up buying most things from Next, so I feel that I really ought to make the effort with the sale. The only thing I really liked was a top I already owned and I was just too exhausted to make decisions so my wallet came home just as heavy as it went out. I am sure I will get brownie points for this at a later date.

So I had another snooze, having come home by this point. There weren’t any beds in Next, otherwise I might well have stopped to clock up a few Zs there and then.

I seem to have digressed somewhat. I’m sure I had something specific in mind to write. Ah yes, how the blog got its name.

On reflection, after having chosen Cabbages and Kings as the blog title, I thought I should perhaps explain that I am not intending to discuss the brassica family, or monarchy, on a regular basis. If I am stuck for what to write about, you never know – you might get lucky. I don’t know very much about either so it won’t be too much in depth. A friend of mine from about 10 years ago had the quote from the Walrus and the Carpenter as an answering machine message and it just stuck with me. So there you have it.

Bias is a bind

One thing that has been really bugging me recently is how to work out what to think about things.

Black and white
At school, teachers knew everything, although now that I have friends and relatives who are teachers, I am starting to doubt that a little bit :-). I remember the year Blue Peter really went for broke on Green Issues (1989? I will have to look it up when I am less than 200 miles away from my old Blue Peter annuals) and suddenly we all knew that CFCs were bad.

Shades of Grey
At University we discover that a lot of what we have been told before is actually wrong – the Pratchett/Stewart/Cohen lies-to-children concept from Science of Discworld. Journals are introduced as the source of all wisdom. All very well. Most questions can be dismissed with a ‘not my subject’ remark. Specialisation is all and once you are specialised enough you can keep saying it is complicated and that people are asking the wrong questions.

A big murky fog
But then real life comes along. Although I can get away with saying ‘I’m not sure’, I want to be able to say that I have opinions. Yes, this is what I think and why I think it. I may be wrong, but my reasoned conclusion is: blah.

I guess I’m thinking most about things that come up on the news: wars, politics, ethics, environmental stuff.

But where to look for input (a la Jonny 5)? There isn’t time to read everything. Who can you trust? As far as I can gather, pretty much no-one. Everyone is biased.

A quick question, just out of interest. Who do you trust to tell you the truth?

Lunchtime over – more on this another time, perhaps even with some specifics.

Reading matters

I like to read…

…a lot.

I’m guessing I’m going to be writing quite a bit about books so I thought I ought to warn you.

I’ve recently discovered essay anthologies as a concept. Previously, I’ve only really read novels, but threw myself into them, skipping at high speed through places like Middle Earth and Discworld. With essays, I have found I like to savour them, read them more slowly and enjoy the language. The lucky dip approach works well, flicking the pages until something catches the eye. This works with reference books too, particularly Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

I started to write about all the books I’m in the middle of reading at the moment, thinking that this might be an insight for you into the sort of person I am. The list got too long so I think you can safely conclude that I am better at starting things than finishing them. You will have to wait for more.

I think I shall go and push on with a worthy book, in the hope of getting quickly off to sleep.