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Thursday, 17 March 2022

Laid Up

We enjoyed decorating son’s bedroom together. It was like thirty years ago when we first moved in. We painted the walls and the woodwork, replaced his football border with a nice flowery one, got the pine-framed bed out of the loft and bought a new mattress. We dismantled and lost his gigantic desk under the bed and now have a guest room. He said we had turned it into an old people’s bedroom.

Most of his stuff has gone to his flat. You would not think so from how much was left. The word ‘pillock’ was mentioned several times. There were A-level, university and postgraduate course notes and books, the empty boxes for every gadget he has bought in fifteen years, a six-feet tall cabinet of DVDs, and books, books and more books shelved double depth. Kids have too much money these days. 

The number of books is astonishing, and he has read every one without a single crease to the spines. No one else was allowed to touch them.  

He did then help sort paper for recycling, documents for shredding and books to go to Ziffit which I heard about through Sue in Suffolk’s blog. They pay next to nothing – you do well to average a pound a book – but it’s better than the charity shop, assuming you can find one to take them at the moment.  

How quickly things can change. One day you are decorating bedrooms, lifting furniture, washing cars and going for country walks, and the next you are crawling on your hands and knees to the bathroom. I don’t know how, but I hurt my back, both upper and lower. Comfortable positions for one were agony for the other. To make matters worse, I then overdid the Ibuprofen and messed up my stomach and could hardly eat anything for a week. Ambrosia will be delighted with their sales this month.

Nights have been spent in the new ‘guest’ room, impatient at the slow pace of recovery. I’ve read the spines of son’s remaining books, and renewed acquaintance with Rusty the Pony who I bought on impulse when Mrs. D. was expecting. Rusty’s friend, bought at the same time, a texture-feely caterpillar we named Snake, was sucked to destruction, but Rusty and some of this other friends survived.  

Who are all these writers: Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Robin Hobb and George R. R. Martin? I could also mention Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, David Hair, Tad Williams, Joe Abercrombie, Adrian Tchaikovsky. Only about half of those he has kept are in the picture. Apart from the history books at the bottom, it is nearly all epic fantasy and science fiction. Then there is Stephen King who throws in extra horror. How can anyone write so much waffle – sixty-four doorstep thick novels? I’ve never read any of these authors despite their enormous popularity. George R. R. Martin, for example, wrote Song of Ice and Fire which became Game of Thrones. Much too violent for me.

I suppose it is only like in my day when I enjoyed reading through the science fiction shelves of the public library. Then it was Brian Aldiss, Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. They had a bit more mid-twentieth century reserve and decorum.

At random, I picked up Dreamcatcher and began to read, appropriate as King explains at the end he was in pain recovering from an accident when he wrote it. I know how he felt. Not that I read to the end. I managed about fifty pages before deciding I had little curiosity about four guys with telepathic powers, and not much liking for their characters. From the synopsis on Wikipedia I avoided quite a few nightmares. Most likely, it’s me that’s boring. I never had much time for Tolkien, either.

62 comments:

  1. Hope your back recovers very soon - sounds horrible. Alternate heat and ice and Naproxen is what I rely on - touching wood before saying that my back has been OK for a couple of years now.

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    1. I think the reaction to Ibuprofen was the worst. I've never had it before - I tend to avoid taking anything - and just as back became not so painful I started to have terrible stomach pains. Seems on the mend now though thanks.

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  2. Your son sounds a clever lad. It must feel strange reflecting at all his stuff now he's flown the nest.

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    1. We knew there was quite a lot, but hadn't realised how much he'd tucked away in places like the bottom of the wardrobe. That was pretty clever in itself.

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  3. I could never get my head round Tolkein either.

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    1. YP, there is a spelling mistake on your blog as well, it's Kellogg's not Kelogg's. Happy to have been of service. :)

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    2. Ha! I guess it shows we all have things we care so little about we can't be bothered to learn how to spell them.

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    3. So I guess my comment doesn't get any reply Tasker.

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    4. I meant you, me and YP. We both spelled it 'ei' before I corrected mine.
      Anyway, regarding Tolkien, it was for me a case of thinking "what's the point?" I started to read Lord of the Rings in my early twenties and got quite a way through before putting it down for a couple of days, never regaining sufficient interest to pick it up again.

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  4. He's definitely not coming back then? somehow that makes me laugh, children do return even years after leaving! Hope your back gets better, try not to do so much work next time.

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    1. Thank you. He's had the flat a year so so I don't think he intends to return, barring things going very wrong.

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  5. Pillock is one of my favourite writers too. Does your son have a first name or did you and your wife just call him "Son" which is I understand a popular boy's name in South Korea? The detritus left in his room is evidence that he is a chip off the old Dunham block - someone of independent mind who relishes knowledge and has eclectic tastes.

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    1. There's nothing wromg with being called Son. They used to be known as Christian names.

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  6. I hope your back soon improves. It took me months to recover from a herniated disc and I hobbled around with a walking stick for ages.

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    1. Thank you for the wishes. However you've set off my hypochondria now.

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  7. I hope you recover quickly. A pity you hadn't got some Hilaire Belloc on those bookshelves.

    Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
    Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
    It is the business of the wealthy man
    To give employment to the artisan.

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    1. Come on Pudding. Correct Belloc's punctuation.

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    2. Thanks. Is that to say we should have employed a decorator?

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  8. Get well soon! O.K. has been off work for a whole week (which is most unusual for him) because he had pulled his back, and he had not been doing anything out of the ordinary - just getting in and out of the car was enough, something he's been doing a million times without any problem.
    Was the photo taken at 2:36 am or pm?
    Apart from King, I have not heard any of the author's names from your son's collection. My own Fantasy phase was when I was between 13 and 18 years old, and then it were the more fairy/magic/different world kinds of stories I liked, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley. King is too "in your face" for me; the only one of his works I ever read was "Carrie", decades ago.
    As for Tolkien (correctly spelled, like YP has kindly pointed out), we have never clicked, either.

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    1. How carefully he chose his position to correct the spelling Tasker which I am sure you noted.

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    2. Happy to have been of service. Corrected straight after the error was made.

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    3. Start your own thread in future between yourself and the post author.

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    4. Rachel, he thought he had. It's easy for the hard of thinking to differentiate between 'Comment' and 'Reply'.

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    5. Why so touchy? I was only trying to help.

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    6. It was indeed helpful. Thank you. We learn from our mistakes. As mentioned, I didn't even give him the time to learn the correct spelling of his name.
      "In your face" is a pretty good description of the few pages of King I managed to read. He doesn't seem to do subtle.
      There seem to be rather a lot of us with aches and pains of various kinds at the moment.

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  9. Oh dear, I hope your back feels better soon! Maybe you need some prescription muscle relaxants from a doctor?

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    1. It's a lot better thanks Debra. I actually managed to walk about 500 yards today - the furthest for 2 weeks. You really do begin to wonder what things have come to.

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  10. It's bad enough being laid low with back pain, and beyond cruel to have to look at that selection of books. I hope you soon recover from both.

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    1. Fortunately I didn't feel like reading at all much. Not even the Stalin and Trotsky books on the bottom shelf.

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  11. Let's hope you soon recover, it's not funny having a bad back. Ibuprofen does that to me and Naproxen is even worse so don't try that if you are tempted. Rest is the only solution and I tell you that from watching Tom over the years. The problem comes when it gets better and you forget you ever had a bad back and do it again, LOL
    Briony
    x

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    1. Thanks Briony. I know. It's not the first time I've hurt my lower back and have various strategies of supporting it during reaching and bending, but it's the first time I've had upper back pain. Hope it's not a sign of things to come.

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  12. My sympathies over that bad back Tasker/ Rest it by all means but do keep it moving too otherwise it will seize up.

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    1. Thanks. I'm aiming to do a bit more each day without overdoing things. The Ibuprofen caught me out - it might have been easier without.

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  13. I do hope you feel better soon. Back pain can be quite difficult. I have had such trouble and once eventually had to get a series of injections in my back which did finally help. Like Briony said, once it gets better you still have to be careful or it will surprise you again.

    Your son's choice of books is very similar to my son. Robert Jordan (James Rigney) is a favorite of his for the Wheel of Time Books. Amazon Prime is now doing a series on those books. If your son has not seen it he may be interested. I admit to going through a Stephen King reading phase, as well as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. I had to laugh when you said your son could not stand a crease to the spines of his books. My son is the same way.

    I am sorry about your back. Sue's advice of alternate heat and ice might be helpful with time. Take care.

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    1. Thanks. I don't much like the sound of spinal injections! I'm aiming to get back to the daily exercises I've been doing for a number of years to build strength back up.
      My SF phase was as a teenager. I wouldn't read a lot now, although did read John Wyndham not so long ago. As mentioned about Tolkien, I'm not a fan of epic fantasy.

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  14. Do you think it is possible to like the idea of Tolkien without having read the oeuvre?
    I have read his *Beowulf: The Monster and the Critics* three times, and I enjoyed the essays in this volume on fairy tales and learning Welsh.

    Every time I start The Hobbit, as a prelude to The Rings, I find myself diverted by an unread Trollope, Zola or Balzac.

    A bookseller rang me tonight telling me she finally had delivery of a biography of August Bebel (the German socialist politician who died before Hitler came to power) which I ordered a year ago.

    There is a young American book blogger I follow on YouTube, Kalanadi (Rachel) who reads mainly Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
    She had me reading Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness; a co-authored novel, This Is How You Lose the Time War; and Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem about which there is much YouTube chatter.
    There is a lot of Sci-Fi coming out of China.

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    1. Tolkien wasn't a one-stringed instrument. I'm referring just to his fantasy stuff of course.
      I suspect you've read more book than I ever will several times over. Actually, I'm not reading much at all at the moment, not sure why.

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    2. Always read, Tasker.
      Otherwise the brain turns to mush.

      How about *Putin's People* (2021) by Catherine Belton?
      Subtitle:
      *How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West*.
      In paperback.

      Ms. Belton was a Reuters correspondent and worked for The Financial Times, known all across the world for its accurate and least slanted reporting.

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  15. My sympathies on your back. Children: we raise them to be on their own, but it is always a bit of a jolt to find yourself alone, isn't it? So glad to discover that there are others who can't make it through Tolkien. I have tried. Many times.

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    1. Thank you. We've been discussing for quite a while how to use the extra space they leave. We just didn't expect them to leave without there being any extra space.

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  16. You have my sympathy about your back. Many of us know what it is like. I've never liked science fiction fantasy and whatever genre Harry Potter falls into. Thee are so many more interesting things to read and they don't have to benefit the mind much, just be an enjoyable or interesting read, hopefully both.

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    1. Thanks. It's silly to persist with books we discover are not as enjoyable as expected. My attitude now is to drop them and move on.

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  17. I hope you are soon out of pain. It's just awful!

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    1. Joanne, for some time I've been reading with dread about the kinds of things you and other bloggers cope with ant don't know how you do it. This has been quite a warning to me.

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  18. I am so sorry to hear about your back, it helps some if you put a pillow under your knees, it works for me but not for everyone.
    I remember Brandon Sanderson, he wrote the Mistborn series which I borrowed and read from one of my kids, I grew out of Stephen King long ago. now I like to read things that make me laugh or are at least more believable than a car which wants to kill people. (Christine by Stephen King)

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    1. Thanks. It seems to be slowly getting better. Pillow under knees for lower back feels terrible for upper back.
      Yes, I think there is a limit to how much horror and fantasy we can read before moving on.

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  19. Well you have all my sympathy. I hope that the back improves more speedily.

    I keep a few diclofenac in my pocket for such emergencies on the advice of my doc 30 or so years ago - the point being to stop the muscles going into spasm. On the couple occasions I've used them (not in the last 15 years anyway) they have been very effective. However that is not issued as medical advice by me simply because they, too, are not always kind to the stomach. Fortunately mine is usually cast iron.

    I agreed with all your book comments except that, for some unknown reason, I absolutely love Tolkien when I first read his works over half a century ago.

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    1. I think my issues are related to joints rather than muscles, as if my back locks up in certain places. It then gradually regains flexible.

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  20. Try Ibuprofen gel - works for some not for others. My doctor recommened it and it certainly helps me to walk on my ankle.

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    1. Thanks. Someone else mentioned that to me and it sounds worth a try if I need it again. I certainly won't be taking it by mouth again.

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  21. I was just checking-in to see if Mrs Hird of Cowes got another mention!

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    1. She kept me going through all this infirmity.

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  22. Argh, back problems, never good and not something that goes away over night. Do you see a chiropractor by chance? I do regularly, like once a month. Keeps me mobile. Far better than a handful of pills. I'm not into sci-fi or fantasy. I like history, and now then a handful of fluff...what I call beach romance. Sometimes you just need to escape from reality. Spotted you on a mutual friends blog and thought I'd pop in for a visit. It's always fun to meet new bloggers. Hope you feel better soon.

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    1. Many thanks for taking a look. I'm gradually getting a more flexible back back (sic) but it really is taking a long time this time. I still can't walk very far and feel all bent over like in that road sign for old people crossing. I'm gradually feeling more able to do my regular exercises too but only in a half-hearted way so far.

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  23. I never had any joy with Tolkien either. I went through a phase when a teenager of reading dennis wheatley. Now he was terrifying.

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    1. These books are probably mainly a young person things. I read a lot of SF and remember having the Pan Book of Horror Stories - maybe more than one volume. I can still remember some of the horror stories now - the Horsehair Trunk especially I wouldn't read a lot of them now.

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  24. I know many of these authors from working in a school library! We have plenty of Sanderson, Rothfus, Tchaikovsky, George R. R. Martin and of course Stephen King. Of that bunch I've only ever read King, though. I liked his oldest books but I pretty much gave up on him after the late 1980s.

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    1. I guess you'd be delighted if pleased every kid read as many books. It started here with Harry Potter, which some deride, but then I read a lot of Enid Blyton! So I'm not complaining. Just not my choice.

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