Sunday, September 10, 2017

Downhill at 50?

I turned 50 nearly a year ago, and for some reason have been ill more in the last year than the previous 49 put together. Perhaps things do start to go downhill at 50? A frozen shoulder wiped me out at the end of last year and a flu bug has taken hold for the past....well I can't even remember how long! And now, I've strained/pulled/torn something at the top of my leg which has me hobbling around like someone much older than 50. I've struggled to hold concentration at times, and get tired more easily than usual.

But life goes on and as my 89 year old mother says every time I call her, "Complaining doesn't help!". In fact, I'll be seeing my Mum soon as I'm heading back to England in a couple of weeks. It's been a few years since I was there so it will be good to catch up with my family again. More about that as it happens as I like writing about my travels. But first we have to get there, and as we're flying Malaysian Airlines who have had some notable incidents recently, I'll be happy when we do get there! (Actually, flying back on Friday 13th October is even more harrowing!)

To be honest, things could be a lot worse. I feel for the people in extreme weather conditions dealing with hurricanes and earthquakes etc. We've had a colder than usual winter but nothing to complain too much about. I live in the most livable city in the world according to the Economist, and Australia hasn't the uncertainty over its future like other Western Democracies at the moment. I'm not sure what is happening in Europe and the UK with their break up, nor am I certain what is happening in North America with a seemingly ineffective executive branch of government in the USA. At least in Australia things are fairly stable. We have our issues such as human rights abuse against asylum seekers, a vociferous opposition to marriage equality, and a dangerous relationship with North Korea with which we are within striking distance of their missiles. But generally speaking, life is good for your average Australian.

So besides work, and being ill what have I been up to? Not a lot really. I have been playing a lot of chess which has been going quite well. And reading a lot of fiction. Since the Man Booker Prize announced it's Longlist I've read 4 of the novels and I must say, they were all great. (I'm currently reading number 5 which also started brilliantly). I read a lot of fiction of all genres, including fantasy, crime, YA, historical and even some romantic types. But I make an exception for the Booker Prize nominees because over the years they have become some of my favourite novels. I have been blown away by winners such as The Remains of the Day and Narrow Road to the Deep North and even those that didn't win such as Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Ruth Ozeki's A Tale For The Time Being which I felt should have been the winner in 2013.

This year of the 4 novels I read so far, there is already one stand out. Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad is unbelievably good, and taking into account that the other 3 novels have been excellent, this is really saying something. The Booker Shortlist is announced on Wednesday and the biggest shock for me is if Whitehead's novel isn't on it. Of course, there are still 7 novels I haven't even started yet, which may be better, but they will have to be astonishingly good to better The Underground Railroad.

I try to devote a little bit of time every day to leaving the world of what I'm doing and just sit at a cafe drinking a coffee and reading, usually about 20 minutes before the day really begins. The Underground Railroad has been the best book I've read this year so far though it was very uncomfortable reading at times. Crying in public is not considered the done thing for men in Australia!

So there you have it. Can life really be that bad if I get to spend a little bit of time each day drinking coffee, reading good books in the most livable city in the World with the woman I love? There might be some little issues, but like my Mum says, "Complaining doesn't help". :)

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