Old People

Journal: 071

Same as last time. I’m in Melbourne, finished unloading and Homer hasn’t yet put together a load home for me, so I’ve time on my hands. Same too Covid-wise, restrictions in Victoria mean I can’t visit mum, though it turns out WA, my home state, aren’t being so hardline as last year about iso for us “essential workers”, I had dinner at Milly’s – and spare a thought for her, this week she’s on a 7 day ‘refugee’ diet/fundraiser (I’ll see if I can provide a link).

I should really have posted Such is Life (06) in this space but I didn’t get it fully written up before I left home and may or may not get it done today/tomorrow. SIL is one of those projects we discuss from time to time under the heading of for whom are we writing. I’m happy to be making my case in the way that I am; sometimes when there’s only a few comments you think “well that post failed” but I’m not greedy enough to expect even my most loyal readers to comment 12 times about one book (which they may not have read); I’m taking my cue from Brona’s Moby Dick and Lisa’s Finnegan’s Wake which both I think worked very well – I hope they don’t mind the comparison!

The Old People of the heading, and I suppose you can take as read that’s “old people like me”, is from two books I listened to on the way over, Thomas Keneally’s The Pact (2020) and Joanna Trollope’s An Unsuitable Match (2017). Not that I feel old, even now. Old men wear baggy brown trousers and tweed coats; old men are bent, have trouble walking, have whispy white hair. I see them in the street, reassure myself I’m not them.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late … That’s me!

Poor old Thomas Keneally (1935- ) too refuses to face reality and continues churning out stories with no hint of his early promise as a writer of quality. The Pact in this case is ostensibly an agreement between long-married Australians Paddy and Jenny to end their lives at the time of their own choosing on the Thames Embankment where they first met. Ostensibly because their financial support for their younger son during his long struggle with gambling addiction has driven Jenny to despair. It is she who is determined to die and Paddy must convince her over and over that he is genuine about going with her.

The Pact reads like a checklist of subjects Keneally is interested in – I won’t accuse him of writing for book groups – lapsed Catholicism, getting old and prosperous in Sydney, adult children, continence, the obligatory year in London after uni (which Boris and Scotty from Marketing may have just revived).

There is a very funny scene about something Keneally is clearly worried about, and which I am not, not yet. Paddy out and about in London needs to piss, can’t find anywhere before it’s running down his leg, desperately seeks a new pair of trousers to buy from a sales person who is pretending not to have noticed.

Trollope’s novel is also about an old (ok, in their 60s) couple in love. In her case Rose, a divorcee runs into Tyler, a widower who was keen on her when they were at school half a century earlier. Both have late twentiesh children and Trollope makes points by putting the children into relationships in ways which mirror what Rose and Tyler are doing.

On both sides the children are largely resentful of and feel threatened by their parents’ proposed marriage. I’ve been Tyler a couple of times, and in both cases – my third marriage and a relationship afterwards – my children were largely unconcerned (or were concerned for me rather than for themselves) and the woman’s children were pleased for her and got on well with me. In both cases discussions occurred naturally about the disposition of assets, about what the children would inherit. Rose and Tyler don’t have that discussion and it gradually becomes obvious that Rose is unrealistic in dismissing the fears of her children. Tyler in fact is a pushy bastard and each time he says to Rose, ‘I love you, I only suggest what is best for you’, the reader squirms.

I don’t remember the last Trollope I read except I didn’t like it much. I see on searching she has written one called Sense & Sensibility, which she mentions briefly in this, commenting that one grows from sensibility to sense which accords with my opinion that the original S&S is YA.

Unlike The Pact, An Unsuitable Match is worth reading, not literature but definitely a good beach read.

.

Thomas Keneally, The Pact (2020) Audible, narrated by Keith Scott, Taylor Owynns, Afterword by Thomas Keneally. 7 hours
Joanna Trollope, An Unsuitable Match (2018). Bolinda, read by Samantha Bond. 9 hrs

Top photo, An excursion into the Victorian Alps

Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night, 1937

Milly: See Ration Challenge Australia 2021

.

Recent audiobooks

Jacqeline Kent (F, Aust), Vida (2020) – Biog.
Kerry Greenwood (F, Aust), Dead Man’s Chest (2010) – Hist.Fic./Crime
Garth Nix (M, Eng), The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (2020) – YA/Fantasy (1980s alternative timeline)
Marc Levy (M, Fra), All Those Things We Never Said (2008) DNF Ridiculous premise
Kerry Fisher (F, Eng), The Mother I could have Been (2020)
Lee Child (F, Eng), Persuader (2003) – Crime
Herman Koch (M, NL), The Ditch (2016) – disappointing
Lawrence Block (M, USA), Out on the Cutting Edge (1989) – Crime
Sophie Kinsella (F, Eng), Sleeping Arrangements (2001)
Patricia Cornwell (F, NL), Quantum (2019) – SF-ish thriller
Joanna Trollope (F, Eng), An Unsuitable Match (2017)
Thomas Keneally (M, Aust/NSW), The Pact (2020)

51 thoughts on “Old People

  1. Hey Bill, I rarely comment on your blogs. But the lack of a comment doesn’t mean a lack of enjoyment!

    Like

    • Well thank you for commenting this time, and for the content of your comment. Not seeing you around for a while, I wondered if you had been unwell. Hope not! Next time I have more than a few days between trips I’ll email you and see if you’d like to catch up.

      FYI the ratio of my commenters to followers is about 1:20, less for the bigger blogs I imagine.

      Like

      • Yes, I’ve been crook. Meandered into hospital three weeks ago, feeling really off, short of breath, appetite shot, losing weight. Wondered if the specialist would find anything wrong. Only took one day. Diagnosis: blood clots in the right lung. Fortunately this is my bung lung, so the blood clots aren’t causing too much havoc. Came home from hospital the day my first grandchild was born. Felt lousy for two days, but the threat of a return to hospital must have done the trick, because I picked up. Been busy since, turning the big 70, with suitable (drawn out) celebrations. But I still manage time to check up on my favourite blogs 😁

        Like

      • Happy birthday! I wondered with Mr Gums turning 70 (a few days before me) if you would be too. And congratulations on grandchild #1! You’re a late starter, my oldest grandchild will turn 18 soon.

        Like

    • Agreed, it certainly doesn’t. Because some of the time I read posts by email and not at the website. I couldn’t possibly read all the blogs I subscribe to if I always visited all of them and commented as well.

      Like

      • I nearly always go through the email to the blog so that at least they get a hit. Then if it’s a subject I know something about I’ll say something, and if it’s not I’ll try and say something, which often means going away and coming back. I often check new follows to see if they have a lit.blog. Thankfully they mostly don’t as I already follow more than I can keep up with.

        Like

      • Where things go wrong for me is when I read the email and decide I want to comment, and open the webpage, then delete the email (to keep my inbox clear) and move onto the next email. By the time I’ve finished my email, there might be 6 or 8 webpages open waiting for me to add that comment. That’s fine as long as I don’t get distracted by Life and just not get to it before bedtime when I shut down, and more crucially, as long as my computer doesn’t freeze. (It’s only 12 months old, but there’s something wrong with the fan, and every now and again it has a hissy fit.)

        Like

      • Lisa, I’m a one at a time guy, so I delete the email after I’ve commented (that’s the theory anyway!). But a pristine inbox containing just the most recent incoming mail is just a dream. I often wonder what prodigies of storage are devoted by Hotmail and Gmail to storing dead letters.

        Like

      • Ha ha… they aren’t storing my gmail. My gmail account is what I use for all those purchases where you have to provide an email address so that they can send you advertising, loyalty programs etc. I’ve set up my email program so that they all go into a folder, where, from time to time, I run my eye down the list just in case something else has strayed in there, Select All, and then Delete Permanently.
        I believe you can’t do mass deletions like this with iPads, so you are probably right about the storage.

        Like

      • You can do mass deletions on iPad Lisa. You can Select All and delete, or make multiple selections and delete. I do it a lot. Like you I use gmail primarily for commercial stuff, and when I travel and don’t want to use bigpond webmail.

        Like Bill I don’t delete emails until I’m done with them. All my blog emails (which come to my bigpond address) are automatically filtered to a blog email folder and I deal with them there. They usually stay there until I do a sort on date received and bulk delete, say, May emails (as I just did today). I sort emails all the time, on “from”, on “subject”, on “date received” to manage my reading.

        Blog emails never appear in my inbox. Even so, like Bill’s I think, my inbox is constantly more full than I’d like.

        Like

      • Well, maybe they’ve improved the more recent iPads. I know I couldn’t do it on the iPad I bought to use at school (which is years ago now) and I searched everywhere and asked everyone to find out how to do it.

        Like

      • Possibly Lisa … I’ve had an iPad since 2011 but I can’t really remember back that far. I can’t remember not being able to bulk select emails to delete or move, but I can’t be sure either. Lost in the mists of time! However, you can now!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually enjoy Trollope, as light entertainment which is mostly forgotten when I turn the last page. From the little I do remember, her male characters tend be extraordinarily articulate about their emotions. Unlike most of the men I know (which perhaps says more about my milieu that it does about Trollope!)

    Like

    • Perhaps Trollope has been lucky in her men. In this novel Tyler says I love you a lot but it is not clear how self aware he is. He spent all the years of his previous marriage as #3 in the relationship between his wife and her father, supported financially by them and making no decisions of his own. Both Tyler and Rose’s ex-husband are shown as supportive of their children but both emotionally distant and unaware of the distance. I would say Tyler is superficially articulate but manipulative. I haven’t listened to the end yet, but I don’t think he’s going to be redeemed.
      I can’t comment on your men but I think the women in my life would like me to be articulate about, or at least aware of, their emotions.

      Like

  3. The Pact certainly has a bleak premise – even if it was of a higher quality I think I might give it a miss!

    I don’t always comment because I have long periods of being disengaged from blogging when work is very busy, though recently I have been trying to reduce the number of blogs I follow, so that I can be a more actively engaged reader of the ones I do enjoy. I’m hoping this will make blogging a bit more of a manageable hobby!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Keneally says in his Afterward that despite the premise of the novel he is not thinking of euthanasia for himself. I’m sure that for myself a time will come when euthanasia is preferable to the alternative. Though not soon, I hope!

      The more I get to know my fellow bloggers the less I like “letting them down”. But common sense tells me we are all busy, and quite often flat out, with work and family. We all comment when we can, and when we can contribute, and that is all that is expected.

      Now, I think I have two posts of yours to catch up with, and just a few hours left in this rare day off. I’d better get cracking!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Some days the best I can manage is a like to let you know I’ve popped by. Sometimes I plan to come back when I’ve had time to mull over the post. And sometimes I even manage to do that!!

        Glad you survived the muddy windy trip the Alps.

        And thanks for the moby dick shout out. For much of it I thought I was just writing for me, to get through a weighty classic. It’s always nice to know that people were watching, along for the ride. For the record, I read your sil posts with interest.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mulling over a post is what takes me the most time, though I suppose as a driver I have plenty of mulling time. The problem then is to find somewhere to pull over and write my comment while inspiration is still with me.
        I’m glad I survived too. Driving in at night at 30 or 40 kph took forever.
        Obviously I think SIL is an interesting subject, and one that ties in with my other work. In the end, you take the risk that you can carry your readers with you, and go for it. We all do with our various projects and it generally turns out ok. Still, I’m always glad to have it confirmed.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with Lou, I’m very focused on certain blogs. Whenever I feel like engagement is down, I’ll have some post that connects readers across the globe, and they start talking to each other! I’ve tried reaching out to new blogs a number of times, but once I introduce myself and follow/comment loyally for about a month only to see the other person hasn’t visited my blog at all, the relationship is over. One-way blogs are for famous people like Samantha Irby.

      I do struggle with the books that cross several posts because I feel utterly lost. One blogger who did it well was Laila when she read The Count of Monte Cristo. The post was rather talkative, and I felt like I had asked my friend, “What are you reading lately?” and she told me about it, rather than writing a proper review. Here is an example of one of her posts: https://bigreadinglife.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/the-second-200ish-pages-of-the-count-of-monte-cristo/

      Like

      • Melanie, I didn’t mean to skip over this, honest! I’ve met some interesting people via your blog, not least Lou. I do follow some blogs where as long as they engage with my comments I don’t expect them to follow me. It’ll be a few days yet before I have time off to read Laila who of course I see regularly on your pages.

        Like

      • I met Sue on your blog, so we’re even. What I’m saying is that if I keep following a blogger who never ever ever visits my site, I’m not going to keep back. That does not apply to folks who miss a comment by a few days, Bill! When it’s not summer, Lou often writes about one post per month and blog hops then. So, she may miss a bunch of my posts but I don’t care because we engage with each other and are friends.

        Like

      • That’s interesting how we meet people. I think Sue was the first person to follow my blog who didn’t actually know me. Now I’m waiting for Laila to give me a tick. I have a lot of Dumas – my father had a collection of them – and have read the most popular ones. I’m glad someone is still reading them.

        Do you see Reading Valdemar as a similar sort of long term project? I’m sure you’ve remarked that you worry that you can carry your readers with you. I think your reading and mine come from completely different directions, but finding where we cross over, where our minds meet, is fun.

        Like

      • I do see Reading Valdemar as a similar sort of long-term project, though given the way Lackey writes (mostly) in trilogies, readers can jump in more easily that they could with a project like The Count of Monte Cristo. It was a risk I was willing to take at the time. When I read the Anne of Green Gables books, my readership of those posts dropped off quickly because people either didn’t want to read the first book and thus wouldn’t give a hoot about the 6th, or they want to read the books and don’t want spoilers.

        Like

      • I preferred AofGG to RV, probably because it was a period I was more familiar with but also for the way you saw trends across the series and tied them in with the author’s bio.
        Not that you don’t do the same with RV – the influence of the co-writer for instance. And I’m sure you enjoy that you are doing this one with Jackie.
        Probably it’s just that I’m old and not a Fantasy fan.

        Like

      • That’s okay! There’s a lot of science fiction that I struggle with. The more science it is, the less I’m able to enjoy it because I have a hard time following along. There is a hard science fiction series that both Lou and Nick loved (Lou recommended it, I tried to read it, Nick picked up the series and loved it) called the Bobiverse that may strike your fancy. It’s self-published on Amazon.

        Like

      • I’m not sure Amazon and I are talking at the moment. They sucked me into Amazon Prime and it took 6 months and an hour long phone call to get me out.
        Wiki says We Are Legion is available via Audible (yes I know, more Amazon). I’ll check it out.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. i’ve tried Trollope – once – and vowed never again!
    Keneally scored well for Schindler’s List and the book of how he came to write that, but Daughters of Mars was meh…

    I saw your comment “Boris and Scotty from Marketing” and thought, what the hell is he talking about. Somehow I thought you meant that these two people from the publisher;s marketing department had weighed in and advised Keneally on what issues to include. Took a while for the penny to drop! I clearly need some more caffeine…..

    As for commenting, I can’t keep up with all the blogs I follow either.

    Like

    • To start at the end, yet I don’t think that’s a reason for unsubscribing. And clearly we all have hundreds of followers and presumably readers who feel no compulsion at all to comment.

      I wonder what the north Americans will make of ‘Boris and Scotty from Marketing’? Guys, they’re Trump wannabes and our Prime Ministers. Godhelpus.

      People my age grew up with Keneally as a thoughtful and innovative writer – Three Cheers for the Paraclete, A Dutiful Daughter (my favourite), and even in his middle years works like Towards Asmara and as you say S’s List. But he just kept churning stuff out and became increasingly irrelevant.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think my commenting is lack lustre at best – I read more than I comment and i think it’s largely because my reading is done in snatches (often on my phone which is useless for typing long comments).

    Anyway, I’m probably the only person in these parts to have never read any Kenneally. And I haven’t read any Trollope either, although I do have a review copy of her rewrite on S&S gathering dust somewhere… I will get to it one day. When those rewrites were happening, the only one I was keen to read was Curtis Sittenfeld’s P&P (which I thought was great fun).

    I’ve noted that you didn’t think much of Koch’s latest – I had all but given up on him but whoever writes his blurbs does well, because they do spark my interest.

    Safe travels back to WA – they might be going easier on essential workers but not so for (fully vaccinated) Victorian tourists who were ready to spend big bucks – yes, had to cancel my two week Ningaloo trip 😦

    Like

    • The Ditch is about a man giving free rein to his (probably unfounded) jealousy. Very uncomfortable reading. I didn’t mean to spark a comment stream about commenting. But I guess we all feel a little guilty when we don’t comment on, or horror, don’t read every post. I have to comment on my phone when I’m working and it’s a major pain because the phone refuses to remember who I am so I have to log in for each and every comment.
      I’m really sorry about your Ningaloo trip, I think we are going to have to be less hardline and recognise that Covid-19 is with us forever now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was looking forward to some winter sunshine, and the chance to do some dives, but also know it’s a total first world problem! We’ll probably try to go next year.
        I feel bad about not reading everyone’s posts, not commenting, and not always replying to comments on my own blog… but I remind myself of my original purpose (keeping a personal record of what I’ve read), and it puts it in perspective.

        Like

      • My idea about blogging is that I’ve unexpectedly ended up in a community of people I like and with whom I share common interests, and I will do my best to keep that going without expecting 100% participation of myself or anyone else.

        Like

  6. I’m not sure if I’ve read that Trollope – I went massively off her with the last one I tried to read, in which she used a refugee character as a sort of trope and had other dodgy racist-leaning stuff. Yet I loved her aga-sagas in my 20s … I did re-read one when I did re-reading months to check I still liked them and did then, but …

    Like

    • Trollope is quite prominent in my library(s) and I think I tried a couple which didn’t turn me on and I decided to pass over her. Now I’ve found one that was ok, I’ll have to try another.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What ho, my hearty! I thought the Nix would be postmodern hist.fic/alternative 1980s with an ironic dash of magic, but the hist.fic was just a joke about Clementine Attlee and we quickly settled down to bog standard YA fantasy adventure. I was disappointed.

      Like

  7. I like comments but happy I don’t get thousands as I like to reply to them all and couldn’t if I was hugely popular, haha. I haven’t read any of the books you list here so guess I’m a no comment on this. Stay well🐧😃🎈

    Like

  8. If you enter just “No comment” is it a no comment, or is it a comment? Just like “This page intentionally left blank”, which irritates me intensely. The page is clearly not blank!

    Perhaps I’ll start commenting “Read.”.

    Like

  9. I agree about the importance of mulling time in combination with the importance of “capture that mulled thought before it ambles away” opportunities too.

    Trollope isn’t a writer I’ve read, but I do have the idea that I would probably like her well enough. And, as you know, I love a good love story, especially when it’s something a little out of the ordinary. I’m currently immersed in a story by an Atlantic Canadian woman (it’s out of print even there, I believe, so why torture you with the details) which involves a woman in her sixties half-heartedly flirting with a man in his sixties who may (but I’m not far enough along to know yet) be, in his own way, flirting back. It’s sweet and quiet and nothing else is happening except for it being Nova Scotia and I love it.

    Like

    • I generally don’t read old people love stories, but there are exceptions. Did you watch/do you remember Butterflies are Free? No not BaF, the other one with Judi Dench.

      Glad I’m not the only Muller, I like Comment streams, sort of like tutorials in the old days, before unis became diploma factories.

      Like

  10. It’s funny coming in late to feel that people have been talking about you! Fortunately you and Melanie said nice things? I agree with you both to a degree about following blogs. I do tend to drop off from bloggers who never come back to my blog, but if they engage with me on their blog that might keep me longer!

    I also agree with you re mulling over blogs. It takes time to think about responding. Here, I had a couple of things to say but have got waylaid by reading the comments.

    The thing is you posted this the day we headed off the Melbourne – we got back late Thursday. It was so busy that I did very little blogging or blog reading. Also 16 June would have been my parents 70th wedding anniversary (which is why I’m not quite 70 yet! Haha). Mum died 4 days before their 69th anniversary.

    Anyhow, your post. I’m glad you didn’t say “I won’t accuse him of writing for book groups” because that accusation makes me grumpy. Also I’ve never read Trollope, but I think her Sense and sensibility is her take on the Austen novel as part of something called The Austen project. I might have misremembered but I think those who read the novels (written by people like Val McDiarmid on NA, Curtis Sittenfeld on P&P, to name a couple) felt that Trollope’s one one of the better ones.

    I know you understand that I will comment eventually on your posts. I’ll try to get the to the others in the next day or so, but I must finish the post I’m writing. (I’m prevaricating about finishing it off.)

    Like

    • The problem with you and BIP is I have to re-read my post to see what you are talking about, and in this case, the comment stream as well. Lucky I love you both. I think you’re right about Trollope’s S&S, anyway I presume the character was talking about JA’s.
      So, what’s the story with SiL? Have I worn you out, or are you holding off on the chance you’ll read it yourself? I’m not up to spoilers yet, though I will eventually. Don’t worry, I’ll put something at the top to warn you.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s