The deadly months. July and August. The weather often disappoints, the birds have stopped singing, the roads round here are crammed with mobile homes and caravans being towed, the beaches are also crammed full and, yes, it is thoroughly selfish of me to complain about it. But winter is best here. Empty everywhere. In high summer it is best to get back from any shopping trip by ten o'clock and then stay in the garden, to read, or write, cold drink to hand, intermittently watching the swallows high overhead.Anyone who lives near the ocean, or the mountains, or any tourist destination knows this sentiment. Often these areas are dependent upon tourist money to keep afloat. Many people do the seasonal jobs, and switch them with the seasons. There is a bit of a love/hate relationship with all the people who come. I've not had this kind of job, but I know that some workers are driven crazy by the demands the occasional tourist puts upon them.
I found this interesting.
It is a sad thing when you discover that a book you loved beyond many, a book of which you knew whole paragraphs and conversational exchanges by heart, a book you thought you would be wedded to for life, has lost its appeal, its charm, its ability to amuse and entertain, delight and impress. How does this happen? Does it mean the book has become dated, or outdated, its humour old-fashioned, its charm rusty, its brilliance tarnished? Was it a book you simply grew out of? Or one that, as you read more and got more life experience, could not keep up with you? Was it simply not up to the job, did it not bear any more re-readings, yield any more wisdom, reveal any new aspect to the wit, so that you laughed again but in a slightly different way?Do you feel this way about any particular books or authors? For a reader this is kind of like a break-up, or a slipping away of a friendship. You can't always put your finger on it, but you know that something has changed. Susan Hill goes on to tell the reader
What I am saying is that my love affair with E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels seems to be over. There are odd things that still delight... But I droop after reading three chapters of any of them and I no longer smile at all. It was a blow when this first happened. I decided it was just me and left the books alone for a while. But it went on happening. I found myself becoming impatient with these silly people - and that was fatal.Over the years of email groups and blogging, I've known a lot of people who absolutely love these books. I wonder if they would understand what she means. Personally, I saw Mapp and Lucia first on PBS ages ago, and could not stand the women! I never even tried the books.
Susan is very concerned about the decrease in small nesting birds.
In his Natural History of Selborne, Gilbert White records not only dozens upon dozens of sparrows but of every other sort of 'common' bird - thrushes, blackbirds, finches, tits - as well as the migrants. ... Even in my own childhood, there were probably several hundred percent more song birds than now. The telephone wires were lined with swallows and martins, the air thick with swifts.
The loss of so many over the last hundred years or so is forgotten - everyone talks about the pandas and the tigers and the giraffes, and of course they are important. Meanwhile, not far from home, people trap thousands of small birds for food.And she later writes
Watched a hen harrier on the marshes. There are several pairs, always visible, swooping across, looking for prey. They were rare once, but now they are common. The campaign to make hawks protected birds has seen to this, so they breed safely and murder small birds unhampered.It is really difficult for me to read all this. Heartbreaking.
She writes of one of her (and my) favorite writers, P.G. Wodehouse. She has encouraged people to read him, and
some cannot get past the receding chins, the brainlessness, the vacuousness, the frippery, the juvenile mentality of the characters. The only one to whom none of the above descriptions apply is, of course, Jeeves. Lord Emsworth sometimes succeeds where Bertie Wooster fails, but I never press home my argument about Wodehouse, because if the magic doesn't work, it doesn't and never will. It is the uncomprehending reader's loss. Nobody half likes Wodehouse... You are an addict or you are left stone cold.I openly admit, I am that addict. I've often said that his writing is second only (maybe) to Shakespeare's. I agree when Susan notes that he is a "master of the language, whose plots and characters are of second and third importance to the writing."
Another wonderful month spent in Susan Hill's company.