Pebbles on the Beach.



“There are always plenty of other fish in the sea.” Do people still really say that in the sincere hope of cheering up a close friend or family member who’s been jilted?

Alternatively: “Don’t worry there are lots of pebbles on the beach.”

Well I made a good, though perhaps not so scientific, investigation when I was on holiday. As a result, I can verify that there were very few fish in the sea (it was after all the Mediterranean). As for the pebbles on the beach, yes there were plenty of those and in a variety of different colours and shapes. You know what though, essentially they were all identical; smooth, hard, and uninteresting; “chips off the same block”.


Originally posted on 9 August 2007


Harry Potter and the Last Goodbye



Like thousands of other holidaymakers this year I took the latest edition of Harry Potter on holiday with me, knowing it was going to be the last holiday we would ever spend together. My relationship with Harry goes back to 1997 and whilst Apprentice Man claims to have long since outgrown stories of witchcraft and wizardry, his mother has not.

On the one hand, therefore, whilst I was excited by the prospect of the final instalment and a last opportunity to satiate myself with Muggles, Dementors and House Elves, I opened the book with a certain trepidation. Half a dozen pages in, I was engrossed, but then two dilemmas arose; firstly amidst all the rumours of characters being killed off would Harry actually survive to the end of the story and secondly did I want to read it quickly or would I prefer a lingering goodbye? Pedantically I noted that at 607 pages and an average reading speed of say 60 seconds per page the whole book was going to take me some 10 hours to complete. I therefore had a choice; I could limit the indulgence to say 45 minutes a day or jump in and get through it as quickly as possible.

The difficulty was that if Harry succumbed to Voldemort in the first half, then our time together and my enjoyment of the whole experience was going to be cut short very quickly, especially if I decided to do nothing else but sit on my sun-lounger and read from morning to night. Indeed an early exit for the hero could spoil the overall ambience of my long awaited summer holiday. I, therefore, succumbed to temptation and did what nobody should ever do with a good book, but I inevitably do; I read the last 5 pages.

If real life were the same and with the benefit of crystal ball gazing, how much different our lives might be. However and even then it wouldn’t solve all issues because I still had to determine whether or not to spend only the beginning of my vacation with Harry Potter or the whole of it. Crystal ball gazing might reveal the outcome but not necessarily the method of getting there.

Frankly I can’t see the point in long goodbyes; they only delay the inevitable. Ten years is a long time for any hero to keep you dangling with his tales of bravado and I decided that if it was all coming to an end then it might as well do so promptly. It took a day and a half to complete matters and that was it, for all time. Of course, there was a tinge of regret that there won’t be any more novels, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I occasionally looked over my shoulder for a passing Horcrux or Death-Eater. Overall though, I got on with my holiday, indulged in some other pursuits for a few days and finally came back to my bed by the pool to read more books!


Originally posted on 7th August 2007