Got an e-mail from an old friend, apologising for the fact that she’s only just finished The Noughties, because she doesn’t commute and as a result barely reads anything these days. I sort of know what she means; I’ve got piles upon piles of unread books over two continents, that show no sign of succumbing to erosion. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s only when I’m on trains and boats and planes that I’m forced into a state of prolonged concentration.
This seems to be a fairly widespread phenomenon. I must admit that a quantity of drink was taken on Tuesday night: Red Stripe for Billy, Guinness, then vodka for your correspondent. But not nearly as much as had been encountered by a gentleman I saw on the way home, barely able to stand, blood trickling from a mysterious wound on his flushed, sweaty forehead. But once he’d boarded the train at Old Street and managed, after several attempts, to achieve a satisfactory bottom/seat interface, he got stuck into a battered paperback of Thomas Mann short stories.