I have decided that the problem is not the internet connection but my laptop which is so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w that checking email or doing anything else online is excruciating. It’s amazing how life changes when you’re not spending your time Googling or Facebooking or Twittering or emailing. For a start there are hours more in the day, and I am feeling very detached from ‘real life’. I have been trying to write 2k words a day, but it’s more important to go out for a walk and enjoy the hills and the water, and rediscover the fact that there are few surer ways to restore a sense of proportion than standing on a sunny beach throwing sticks into the sea for a dog.
I’m staying in the holiday house that’s been in the family for over 30 years, and like all good holiday homes, it has a store of old books, the kind you would scorn to read at any other time, but are somehow just what you want when you’re away. Over the years, a motley assortment has been left here over the years. We seem to have a lot of truly dreadful thrillers from the Seventies, some dated blockbusters, tattered historical, war stories, and the odd literary novel which has clearly been brought for effect and then discarded in favour of easier reading. Oh, and a set of Jessica Harts, of course!
I like to work my way through the almost complete collection of Agatha Christies when I’m here. It was Murder on the Orient Express last night. There’s something incredibly comforting about them. I don’t care that I’ve read them many times and know who the murderer is. I don’t mind the fact that the plots are dated and contrived and turn on silly coincidences. An Agatha Christie is a master class in PTQ: you pick one up, intending only to flick through a page or two for old time’s sake, and suddenly you’re turning the next page and then the next, and before you know where you are, you’re absorbed in the story and refusing to do anything else until you’ve finished it.
I wouldn’t take an Agatha Christie away on holiday with me, and I wouldn’t read one at home, but here in Scotland, they’re just what I want. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to The Mysterious Affair at Styles ...