My Three Books—
As a child, I loved Pigling Bland by Beatrix Potter. The cover of the pig looking up at the sign of ‘Over The Hills’ seemed so full of jollity and hope, something which has always fired me up. I had a recording of Wendy Craig reading it on vinyl and years later I met Wendy when we switched on the Christmas Lights together in Basingstoke and she couldn’t have been more gracious about my piggy talk. My favourite quote from the book is “I wish I could have a little garden and grow potatoes” – my current favourite hobby during lockdown.
The book I am reading at the moment is The Art of Solitude by Stephen Batchelor. Seemed the perfect book for the ultimate moment. I’d heard Stephen in conversation on a podcast and was drawn in by his lifelong devotion to teasing out life’s inspiring collage through time spent alone. The book so far, is fabulous – a magical mosaic of intriguing tales from Montaigne to Vermeer and even Buddha. Recently released, it’s an exceptionally easy read, proving great company and food for thought in isolation.
The book I can’t wait to read is The Tree by John Fowles. I remember years ago reading The Magus on a Greek island and my copy is still infused with the Aegean into which it took a splash one sunny day more than a quarter of a century ago. The opening line of The Tree has me itching to get started, “The first trees I knew well were the apples and pears in the garden of my childhood home”. From what I’ve glimmered (“the modern vision of hell is purposeless”) it seems to be rooted in John’s reflection on doing rather than being. I’ll let you know how I get on!