According to Martin Amis one of the prerequisites for being a novelist is to think that the world doesnt have to be this way. To think: why roads? why cars? why discomfort and noise? why striplighting? The novelist, says Amis, thinks that nothing is inevitable, everything is contingent.
Now, I am no novelist and nor do I have much time for Martin Amis these days, but as a tourist on his way to Bilbao for a much needed holiday, I ask myself: does it have to be like this? So uncomfortable, so harried and inhospitable. We left the flat at 10, dragging 19.5kg of luggage
Some people said that the amount of continued disruption meant that the terrorists had “won”, but surely the real victory was for all those health and safety and risk assessment wonks who managed to induce BAA into believing that even carrying a book could be hazardous. Fortunately, a relaxation in the regulations (ignored by many who carried only their essentials in a clear plastic bag) meant that this inhuman measure was lifted. I shudder at the idea travelling by plane without a book.
And thus, I spent my time wearing ear plugs, shivering and reading all 400 pages of David Peaces Nineteen Eighty Three, the final part of his fantastic Red Riding Quartet. Nineteen Eighty, which I had read a few days before, had dunked me into a profound depression. His universe is so caustic, bitter and noirish. Geeks have a phrase “Garbage in, Garbage out” to describe how bad code makes bad software. I wonder whether reading such dark material makes ones reality darker and more pessimistic by colouring your perspective. Certainly Ive noticed that all the people who come into the library stinking of alcohol always seem to read crime books. Or maybe not. This morning I awoke refreshed and optimistic, ready to explore the city.