Universal Harvester

Universal Harvester

I really enjoyed the book, but I don’t think I understood what was going on while I was reading it, and probably not after I finished it either. But maybe now, a few weeks after, is it starting to congeal into something resembling an “aah…so that’s what was going on!”. Maybe. Probably not.

John’s (because we’re on first-name terms, obviously) writing style feels familiar, and there are several sentences in the book that wouldn’t be out of place slotted into a Mountain Goats song somewhere. This familiarity, though, lulled me into thinking that it would be a linear, and probably obvious, story that made sense. I was expecting more horror. I was expecting to be messed with more, psychologically. I didn’t expect to time-travel (not that the book is about time-travel) between generations, and across the country quite like it did.

I was confused for a lot of it once it moved away from the first story arc of the spliced in footage on the rental cassettes. But the writing style kept me reading, and I’m glad I persisted with it, even if I didn’t understand what was going on.

I reckon it’s a two or three star book. Same writing style with a story I understood and it would be a 4.5-er. I’m not blaming the author for me not understanding it, I should add.

A most unexpected swim

A most unexpected swim

When someone says “English beach” you don’t really picture anything that great. Grey skies. Grey sand (at best). Grey water. A lot of people not really dressed for the beach at all. I’d been told that the Jurassic Coast was beautiful, and, along with my preconceived ideas I (internally) pffff’d and mostly dismissed the idea of swimming in the UK.

But then I remembered that I would need a July swim to complete my swim-every-month-in-2022 challenge. So, caution to the wind and those sorts of things, I decided to head to Durdle Door as early as possible to avoid the crowds. £5 to park for 4 hours – they sure know how to make it difficult for poor people to do things in the UK.

Anyway. I followed the path down, and down, and down, past the views of white chalk cliffs, down the rocky path, then down the worn wooden steps and onto the san….pebbles. They were oval, smooth pebbles. Apparently walking barefoot on pebbles is a good way of improving health (it’s called tap shek) – so consider my health improved!

There is a very striking arch in the water at Durdle Door Beach – the arch is the namesake for the beach. Durdle Door.

The water was clear and a beautiful blue. There was a slight swell, but nothing significant. No wind. The sun was out.

I dove in to the instantly deep water (the coarser the sand on the beach, the steeper the beach) and started swimming for the arch. The water was refreshing, especially after suffering through the 40℃ heatwave in London. A shower doesn’t have the same refreshing power as a swim in the ocean after a hot day.

I reached the arch, swimming through it on my back, looking up the whole time, watching the perspective change. It felt special. Magical. Like I’d gone through a portal to another land. Swimming back through the portal, I was worried I’d go back through to the place I’d come from, but I stayed in the magical place where I’d been through Durdle Door.

If you ever get to the Jurassic Coast, and the weather is Just So, I heartily recommend swimming through the portal to another land.

Durdle Door
Preconceived Ideas washed away.
Pre-Spotify Travel

Pre-Spotify Travel

When I was last in Europe music wasn’t everywhere – especially not “my” music. We didn’t have a stereo in the Volvo 940 we were driving around Europe. I didn’t have an iPod. Spotify didn’t exist, nor did the ubiquitous internet that’s required for a streaming service. I have an incredibly vivid memory of being in Spain, and finding a bar one afternoon that was playing Smashing Pumpkins. I’d not heard “my” music for many weeks and it struck incredibly deeply.

I wonder if there will be things that lodge themselves in my brain the same way as that afternoon did on this trip. And I wonder if my kids will have the same experience of unearthing something they’ve been missing by absolute chance.