So we had a family holiday. Here are me and my boys and their girls on top of Victoria Citadel, Gozo a couple of weeks ago.
I know some of you wait with bated breath for my holiday reading list and it will be along in a moment but I just wanted to say that we had such a good time with the six of us that my first week's reading was a bit light. This was a good thing. Hadn't had the whole family away for over ten years so there was some trepidation on my part about how we'd all get on. Answer, brilliantly. Great fun, very relaxing and no awkward moments apart from a cockroach called Senor Alan at the nicest restaurant on the Maltese islands which decided to climb both my boys during the course of a meal and was eventually, spectacularly and unceremoniously, squashed by hero Jon and the body kicked away out of sight with a deft improvised right foot. Footie skills I reckon. I don't recall how we knew it was called Alan.
For those who don't know my lot then left to right we have Ben, Jon's girlfriend Carys, Ben's girlfriend Rachel, me and Jon.
If you saw the Tweet post about the end of my favourite shorts then those are they on their final outing.
The scores in brackets are simply a measure of how much, out of 10, I enjoyed the book. They are not a comparison of quality writing. I read:
Christopher Brookmyre: Pandaemonium (6/10)
The usual level of black comedy, crime and gore once again showing his skill at understanding the mind of the teenager. Very light, very funny, appalling language.
Bateman: I Predict a Riot (8/10)
You wouldn't believe the trouble a Belfast dating agency could kick off with a few interesting introductions. Bateman's character creations are riotous and his skill is in putting very unlikely people together on the same page. He must use the hat system (ask me if you need to).
Nick Hornby: Juliet, Naked (7/10)
Back, I suggest, to what he does best. A romantic comedy about a music obsessive, with a twist. Very good.
David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (9/10)
Astonishing. Although I need to tell you that Mrs M hated it and couldn't complete. Several over-lapping stories over a huge stretch of time demonstrating how our world is joined up. The breadth of the knowledge, research and imagination blew me away. But you will need to be happy to live patiently with open ends until he returns and resolves them, one by one. Best book I have read this last twelve months.
Howard Jacobson: The Act of Love (7/10)
The slightly erotic musings of a man who wonders if he loves his partner enough to let her, and watch her, commit adultery. Asks good questions about relationships by pushing extremes. Not for everyone.
Edward St Aubyn: Mother's Milk (6/10)
A family revisited on holiday every year for four years as they take stock of their lives, their relationships and their hopes. A young boy offers a depth of comment that asks the reader to wonder how much children understand of what is going on. Well written prose but more a narrative than a story.
Douglas Coupland: J Pod (7/10)
Probably the best Coupland I have read. A bunch of nerdy game designers and their dysfunctional families have a big adventure. One or two nerdy exercises to keep the geeks happy as they read. Can you spot an upper case O replacing a number 0 hidden in twenty pages of digits? Do you want to?