Thrillers are reserved for holiday reading. This means that what I read on our annual sybaritic holiday where decision-making is minimal, and little that demands intellectual effort is allowed to intrude, is unlikely to be in the classic mode or right up to date and fashionable in the sense of being what everyone else is reading just at the moment. I read more slowly than I used to, so that each of the two thrillers (one of which I have finished and the other just begun) lasts two or three days. The Ghost by Robert Harris had me gripped through a prolonged wait at the airport and through the flight. Its cleverness is amazing. The central character whose autobiograpy is being ghosted is a former British prime minister, who led the country into war with Iraq and turns out to be ... but I won´t spoil it for anyone who hasn´t yet read it. Lawyers must have had fun with the manuscript because you would expect a libel action somewhere, but the switch between obvious models (Tony Blair) and his wife and fiction is so cleverly managed that I suppose it must have avoided the net.
The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, the first of the Millenium trilogy by Stig Larsonn has now been made into a film, and only the squarest or slowest of thriller readers will not yet have come to it. I read the second part of the series last year, and am only now coming to the first. The third I suppose must wait till the next holday, but this is so gripping that I may be tempted. Sordid goings-on Swedish finance, journalistic tightrope walking and the intriguing heroine, like no other in literature, are dragging me into an unfamiliar but completely credible world.
The Ninth Conference of the International Cartilage Repair Congress is in session in Sitges. Everywhere people are walking round with labels round their necks. Watching people in bars and restaurants, we can speculate about their roles in cartilage repair. What precisely is a cartilage? If Wikipedia is to be believed it is "stiff and inflexible connective tissue found in the bodies of men and women between bones". It doesn´t contain blood vessels and its texture is softer than bone but harder than muscle.
We call her The Goddess. Every morning she arrives on the beach, strips off and arranges two towels side by side. On one she places a sort of cushion like a Chinese pillow, and begins to annoint herself with cream. Her body has assumed the colour of chestnut almost that of a conker freshly emerged from its green casing. In response to the frequent reapplication of cream, it shines like the body of a much loved and polished motor car. Most of the day she lies on the towels turning to ensure an even colour. She breaks from her prone position only to apply more cream and occasionally, having added the top half of her bikini to the lower half, to play a vigorous game of bat and ball with one of the two regular players (see previous post) to whom she appears to be attached.