The Account of a Lifetime

January 28, 2010

Back & Bookiwooks

Filed under: A day in the life of...,Books & Media — xisor @ 10:23 am

In short, I intended to leave Christchurch early Monday morning on the 7am train bound for Picton. In actuality: I awoke at 8am swearing, then examined my computer to find the alarm hadn’t went off. It begun beeping. I swore colourfully.

I cancelled the boat and next train which I was now also unavoidably missing. I pleaded with the lady, but there was nthoing too be done. “There’s nothing to be done” she probably said and went home early realising there was no more work to do, ever.

In a stupendous fury of absolutely moderate proportions, I proceded directly to the only thing I would choose of many opportunities which I was confident would save me. Starbucks. Venting my tepid, devastatingly accepting fury, I ordered the most complex drink I could think of at the time. A grande extra-shot skinny peppermint mocha, no whipped cream. I could have done better with but a second’s thought; I could have had some whipped cream. I didn’t. In my misery, there was no whipped cream to console me.

Throughout the rest of the day I imbibed a lot of tea, as one should when faced by life-changing events as I was not. I furiously lay down in a park and angrily lay about reading, rather relaxed, for most of the afternoon. I finished Lolita with excruciating contentment. I was curiously unsunburnt. The armour of contempt must have shielded my pasty skin. I left for the airport in the evening expecting to stay over and hassle people online overnight. I arrived. I was awake. I read some of the On Origin of Species. Darwin was delightfully obsessed with pigeons.

I fitfully formed a den or, perhaps, a nest consisting of my rucksack, my other rucksack, my hat and my coat. It was comfortable in a way which only a badly packed, chunky rucksack and an airport international arrival’s floor can be. There was no internet. There was…nothing. Only bums like myself malingering around the airport overnight in effort to avoid accepting their fate.

I woke early in the morning, I fidgeted frightfully. I consulted many screens and hung about by many pillars. I perused the departures board for a long time. I was refused check-in. It was not my time though, it was only 6.30am. As I drew towards the expected boarding time I began to wonder. Where was my flight? Is it here? Where could it be?

I check, I recheck. I confess I panicked and killed a man in undue haste. I assailed my own mind with hideous doubts. I gave a silent cry when I spotted the most unseemly oversight. PM not AM.

I did much the same as the day before, lingering around in Christchurch. I lay on a park bench for two-and-a-half hours.  I listened to podcasts. I listened to music. Neither the Clockwork Cabaret nor Dave Gorman on Absolute could prevent what would happen next.

I was royally shat on by an almighty, faceless bird.

But, in lighter news, literally mere tens of minutes later, I was complimented upon my fine waistcoat by a young pirate. Strange how such things turn around.

I arrived in Thames in good order some hours later.


Throughout my time on South Island I spotted many trees. For a while I couldn’t see a tree without thinking of a remarkable tree climber I know, but this didn’t bother me. It’s not as if this tree climber is unpleasant to think about. Many trees, many photos. But of all the trees we saw in our travels (us being myself and Jonny, read the other blogs), I think one in Christchurch Gardens took the biscuit. So, here is a tiny glimpse of said biscuit-thief of a tree as modified by the very tree-climber in question. Also a wormhole…

Charis was placed here

Branching out

Isn’t she lovely? And look at the girl on the branch too! Some might say this is a union of two iconic images. I am such a person.


Seems a bit off, really, that I only read 47 books this year. But then, I fear, there was a large portion of the first four months taken up largely by reading extracts from books. Stupid dissertation.

In any case, I think I might see about some ratings too. Let’s be ‘relative’ about this.

10/10 is ‘life changingly good’.
9/10 is top-knotch ideas and what
8/10 is a very good book I’d be happy to recommend to folks who don’t normally read that sort of thing
7/10 marks a good quality book
6/10 is a decent read, one I certainly don’t grudge reading
5/10 is an alright read. Many flaws, but still certainly worth my while
4/10 is a book with merit, but more flaws than excellence. Not at all awful though.

I shan’t need 1-3 as haven’t read any utterly dire things recently.

01. Betrayal by Aaron Allston 5/10
02. Wine of Dreams by Brian Craig 8/10
03. I am Legend by Richard Matheson 7/10
04. Nagash the Sorceror by Mike Lee 7/10
05. Malekith by Gav Thorpe 8/10
06. Bloodlines by Kathy Traviss 5/10
07. Dark Apostle by Anthony Reynolds 6/10
08. Tales of Heresy edited by Kyme & Priestley 6/10 (though some stories earn easy 8s)
09. Honourkeeper by Nick Kyme 6/10
10. Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock 8/10
11. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells 8/10
12. Briget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding 7/10
13. Tempest by Troy Denning 5/10
14. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells 8/10
15. Extraordinary Engines edited by Nick Gevers 7/10
16. Descent of Angels by Mitchel Scanlon 6/10
17. Legion by Dan Abnett 7/10
18. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet 8/10
19. Heroes of the Space Marines edited by Kyme & Lyndsey 7/10 (again, some merit 8s and 9s)
20. The Forever War by Joe Haldemann 8/10
21. Mechanicum by Graham McNeil 7/10
22. Fallen Angels by Mike Lee 8/10
23. Salamander by Nick Kyme 8/10 (This is marked out as the stellar book of the year for me)
24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling 6/10
25. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith 8/10
26. Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke 7/10
27. Ravenor Returned by Dan Abnett 6/10
28. In Search of Time: Journey Along a Curious Dimension by Dan Falk 8/10
29. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham 8/10
30. Space Hulk by Gav Thorpe 6/10 (good, but not terribly remarkable)
31. Savage City by Rob Earl 6/10 (a shame as the two before had easily been 8s)
32. Rebel Winter by Steve Parker 6/10 (again, a good book, but not outstanding)
33. Gunheads by Steve Parker 7.5/10
34. Empire by Graham McNeil 5/10
35. Cadian Blood by Aaron-Dembski-Bowden 7/10
36. Dead Sky, Black Sun by Graham McNeil 5/10
37. The Killing Ground by Graham McNeil 6/10
38. Courage & Honour by Graham McNeil 6/10
39. Rogue Trader by Fantasy Flight Games 7/10
40. Disciples of the Dark Gods by Fantasy Flight Games 7/10
41. Creatures Anathema by Fantasy Flight Games 6/10
42. The Inquisitor’s Handbook by Fantasy Flight Games 6/10
43. The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 7/10
44. Professor Calculus by Michael Farr 6/10 (an amusing wee read)
45. Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn 5/10 (Interesting, but not terrific)
46. Ravenor Rogue by Dan Abnett 6/10 (not his best works, but very enjoyable)
47. Emperor’s Mercy by Henry Zou 6/10 (an intriguing if variable start)

Failures of 2009

But what had I bought, started or failed to complete this year?Actually, I suspect I might actually have finished outbound flight. Hrmm.

01. Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn (BEGUN)
02. Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett (BEGUN)
03. Gateway by Frederik Pohl (PILE)
04. The Mysterious Affair at Style by Agatha Christie (BEGUN)
05. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (BEGUN)
06. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (PILE)
07. Shadows over Baker Street edited by Reaves & Pelan (PILE)
08. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (PILE)
09. Collected Poems by Philip Larkin (BEGUN)
10. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (BEGUN)
11. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha by Cervantes (BEGUN)
12. The Traitor’s Hand by Sandy Mitchell (BEGUN)
13. Cities in Flight by James Blush (PILE)
14. Cat Amongst the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (BEGUN)
15. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (BEGUN)
16. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (BEGUN)

Which is a fair amount, really. But enough of that. I think I’ll keep a better list this year. For now:

Books of 2010

01. Flatland
02. Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
03. Innocence Proves Nothing by Sandy Mitchell
04. Gateway by Frederik Pohl (READING)

And that, I s’pect, would be the end of that. For now. I have two cups of tea here, I’ve been swimming today, I intend to run tomorrow and, showing my might, I helped move a spa this evening. Puckled? You betcha!


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