Monthly Archive for January, 2008

Blue Monday

I woke up on Monday 21st January to find that it was officially the most depressing day of the year – Blue Monday. The day the credit card bills start coming in, new year’s resolutions are all well and truly broken, unshed pounds from Christmas still lie thick around the waist and not even a snowdrop to enliven the outside gloom. I recommend Dr. Book. Hers is the only medicine that works at this time of the year.

I’m having a break from fiction for a couple of weeks and am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve just finished Roger Deakin’s Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, a book so beautifully written that I didn’t want to finish it. Deakin, who sadly died a couple of years ago, comes from a long line of English nature writers beginning with the Rev. Gilbert White of Selbourne who, through a series of letters to his friend throughout the late 1780s detailed the natural world as seen from his parsonage. I have a 1821 copy on my shelf and turn to it again and again. Deakin was a proper English radical with a hatred of the homogenisation of the countryside – his book is a love letter to the woods from his native Suffolk to the Australian outback and the walnut forests of Kyrgyzstan. I would also recommend Waterlog, which is an account of how, recovering from a broken heart, he decided to swim his way across Britain. It is a perfect antidote to January.

The other thing that turned up under the Christmas tree is Letters of Ted Hughes, published by Faber. Hughes has long been a favourite of mine ever since our teacher in primary school made us memorise The Thought-fox – I made up my own version, with some really terrible rhymes, and was forced to endure a load of sniggering as my teacher made me read it out, red-faced, to the entire class. I’m only half way through the book but am struck by what a loyal correspondent he was. Does anyone write letters anymore? And what will happen when future biographers search through blogs and emails – will they have the energy of the letter?