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Thursday, 3 May 2012

I'm watching the clock this morning. The pressure’s on.

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself at having written 3000 words (of the new book) over the past three days, but am well aware that (a) they are not exactly dazzling words, rather raw material that will have to be re-worked later, and (b) that the distractions are queuing up.

Yesterday it was the necessary early finish as I dashed off to get the train to York (more on that in a moment). This morning, being Thursday, it's the excellent Melvyn Bragg and In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 (0900h - 0945h). I love Bragg's work, his adherence to the notion that the BBC still has a mission to educate, as well as to inform and entertain. Sometimes I find the subject matter way beyond my reach (he's done sub-atomic particles, and obscure mathematical theories in recent months). This week's topic, however, is more up my alley. I was introduced to Voltaire's  Candide as a 15-year-old schoolboy. We'd all taken our French O Level exam in January rather than June and had a few months in which to extend ourselves. Candide was on the menu, and I remember that we rather enjoyed its irreverence and earthiness. I recently re-read a sizeable chunk of it, in French (and, yes, felt good about that); I was shocked at just how punchy it was in its satirical jibes against the church, the nobility and royalty. Thinking back to the mid-1960s, I suspect we all took that for granted: we were at the height of the ‘satire boom’ when an ageing and out-of-touch Establishment was being rocked by the tidal shifts in popular sentiment. 

Okay - ten minutes before Melvyn starts. Time to think football. While I was at York, with my son and a bumper crowd of 6,057, watching a enthralling and passionate 1-1 draw with Mansfield, my other team, Chelsea, were being well and truly stuffed, at home, by a rampant Newcastle United, for whom Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse scored two absolute blinders. Well done them. As for York, they played well enough, but generally struggled to find that killer ball; and when they did their finishers let them down. Our goal was actually an own-goal, off the foot of their man-mountain of a defender who goes by the splendid name of Exodus Geohaghon.

To the radio. There may be a PS to this later.