Turning Off The Tap

Quick notice for UK readers.

If you think the UK law should be changed to allow gay couples to marry, please say so in the consultation at Out4marriage.com.

It’s essentially a questionnaire that takes about two minutes to click through. But the government will use the results, so it’s important.

What interests me in particular is that the current Home Secretary, the right wing Theresa May, is one of the pro-gay marriage campaigners. In the past she voted against equalising the ages of consent for gay people, and also voted against the repealing of the anti-gay Clause 28. But people change, and times change. There’s much about the current lot in power that worries me but this is at least one commendable state of affairs.


“What a disgraceful lapse! Nothing added to my disquisition, and life allowed to waste like a tap left running. Eleven days unrecorded.” – Virginia Woolf, from her diaries.

This appropriate quote managed to pop up in two very different books I’ve been reading: Alexandra Harris’s short biography of Ms Woolf, and Alison Bechdel’s comic book memoir Are You My Mother? 

Since my exam on May 22nd, which ended my first year as a born-again student, I’ve found myself wanting to get more books read. It’s the Deathbed Regrets test again: I imagine myself suddenly on my deathbed and think ‘if life ended now, what would I most regret not having done?’.

I never think, ‘I wish I’d read more newspapers and magazines.’

I never think, ‘I wish I’d spent more time on Twitter and Facebook.’

And I never think, ‘I wish I’d read more comments left underneath articles on the Internet.’

All of which I fear I’ve been doing too much of over the past year or so. What I do think is, ‘I wish I’d read more books’.  Particularly with the English Lit degree; it seems hypocritical to spend time reading ephemeral stuff online that I could have used on a book.  And I’m not convinced I even enjoy being on Twitter for very long or that I’m good at it. So I’ve been setting myself a goal of reading at least 150 pages of a book a day. For a dyspraxic reader like myself, that’s achievable. It might also help to increase my reading speed.

Another rule I’ve set myself is ‘one book at a time’ – no double-booking. I know many people read several books at once, but in my case it just leads to books not being finished.

I’m also trying to balance set texts for next year’s course with books for pleasure, mixing prose with comic books, fiction with non-fiction, favourite authors with unfamiliar ones, and classics with brand new releases. And it really works: the variety makes all the difference.

So since May 22nd, here’s what I’ve read, in order, with links to my reviews on the GoodReads website (a kind of non-Amazon global book group, which if nothing else helps to remind you what you’ve read).

Goodbye To Soho by Clayton Littlewood (memoir)
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (novel)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (novel)
Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris (biography)
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (comic book memoir)
The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes (novel)

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