It was flattering to be greeted at the hospital, where I was operated on yesterday, as Professor Hyam. Perhaps my life took a wrong turn, or I have forgotten some earlier distinction. It is also good to come home on the same day.
My friend Anna asks me to track down a nineteenth century Russian writer, now little known, called Sergei Aksakov. His best known book is a memoir called Family Circle, published in 1856. I hadn't heard of him. I enjoy doing this kind of research.
"Take it easy", they say. So I go to Venice, with the help of one of Donna Leon's, detective stories, all of which are set in Venice. I pick on Death at La Fenice, in which a famous conductor is murdered in his dressing room in the opera house. It is Leon's first book - I think I have read most of the others. It is not her best, but it's still good to explore the cold, damp alleys and courtyards of the city at a time of year when tourists are absent.