Saturday, 12 February 2011

If you don't mind

I admit, this is pure self-indulgence.

I was off-island today, but I did nip down with my mother to meet Lynn for a picnic at the pontoons. Afterwards, I dropped Lynn back to the island in the dinghy. As I motored away I had an idea for today's blog post and turned back to fetch my copy of Alistair Cooke's Letter From America, 1946-2004 (a heavy volume which is still nowhere near being a complete collection) from the little office at the back of the cabin.

I have half a dozen books which are always nearby in case my writing hand should require a nudge, but Cooke is the one I reach for most often. I have read all the Letters many times, for relaxation, but when it's inspiration I'm after I open the book at random, and read a paragraph or two. It always works - and I thought it would be interesting to do it in front, as they say, of a live studio audience.

I'm sure you think I'm going to cheat, but I swear I'm not. I'm as excited as you are, ha ha, to know what turns up, and I'm going to transcribe the first paragraph I see. Here we go..

"I mean that president Carter is the phenomenon of a very hard-working President who yet makes time every morning - every dawning, I ought to say - to listen to a half-hour or so of Mozart or Beethoven. It is hard to think of a better prescription for rinsing out the mind before the growing cacophonies of the day. It is fascinating, though perhaps not very instructive, to wonder why politicians, who regularly acquire some strange bedmates, should so rarely relax with the muse of music, with classical music, that is. Franklin Roosevelt and John F.Kennedy would have paid any price to avoid a symphony concert. Disciples of the late Harry Truman will be bound to protest that he actually played the piano, chopped his way through bits of Chopin, and at all times was ready to give a soulful performance of 'The Missouri Waltz'..."

Excellent. I hope it was good for you too.
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