Approaching spring

As we near the middle of February, it’s clear that spring is on its way. If you ignore the sometimes bitter cold and take a look around, you might see a few snowdrops (as I did this morning when I took a short cut through the Pavilion Gardens) or some daffodils trying their hardest to push through. After what was apparently the coldest December on record, it’s nice to see some evidence of Mother Nature turning her wheel and bringing us all closer to the warmth once more. Which probably all sounds very hippy and tree-hugger-ish (I never said I wasn’t a tree-hugger or, indeed, a hippy at heart), but it all brings out the pagan in me and that’s no bad thing. Mornings are getting lighter (every day, I look out the window and judge – we appear to be getting an extra half hour or so of light compared to about six weeks ago, but don’t quote me on that) and days are becoming noticeably longer. With the longer days come lighter spirits and happier people.

Part of my own light mood is due to the fact the whole family, the other half and a friend of mine (Hi, Ariana! *waves*) are going to see my beloved Capercaillie at Chichester Festival Theatre on Sunday evening. I haven’t seen them for a while, so it’ll be great to see the guys again and have a good bop. If, by the by, the theatre staff are killjoys and refuse to let people dance down at the front (it’s happened before), there are always the aisles. Want to stop me dancing there? I’ll bop in my seat. I’m not going to sit on my *insert expletive here* hands when the band are playing a reel or a jig. Listening to folk music, especially live, makes my whole soul dance and sing, so if I don’t move with it, I start going a bit nuts. And that’s not a pretty sight to behold.

I’m currently bogged down with work, so the gig will be a relief, but it has meant that I haven’t been able to train since last Wednesday. I’ve been taking note of what my instructor said that day, though, by practising my patterns, San Zhan, San Zhan Lie Ma and Shi Zi, every day. All it takes is two minutes of my time and the determination to do it, so no one who practises martial arts has any tangible excuses. Certainly, I don’t.

Something else I’ve been looking forward to is the next appearance of Jasper Fforde at Foyles in Charing Cross Road on the 21st. That does mean another missed evening of kung fu, but it’s not every day you get to come face to face with one of your favourite writers, and Jasper Fforde is particularly funny. It’s also a chance to get his latest Thursday Next book, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, a full day before it’s officially published. *happy dance* This will be the sixth in the series, technically divided into two separate series, so it’s the second of the second series. Are you confused, yet? They do run on, though. When you have the Chronoguard messing with time, anything could happen at any time, plus Thursday jumps from book to book to the Real World and back, so anything could happen anywhere and on any page. This is one of the reasons I love Jasper Fforde’s books so much. Not only because he’s funny – I’ve been known to collapse in giggles, unable to do or say anything until it’s subsided and I’ve regained control – but because he’s technically brilliant, with plot twists that take the reader on a journey to – well, anywhere they might find themselves, really, and his alternative world harbours more book obsessives than you would ever find in reality (which is rather a shame, really – or do I mean shameful?).

Which brings me neatly to my next point. I’ve been following the #savelibraries Twitter hashtag campaign because if my parents had needed to buy every single book I read as a child, either they would have gone broke (not an option) or I would simply have had to read fewer books. As a result of the sheer number of books I did read, my reading age when I was at school was consistently above average and I still love books to the extent that I have several hundred (nearing a thousand – over a thousand?) in my personal collection, many of which I’ve never read. My rationale for having quite so many is if, one day, for some reason (the closure of libraries; the eventual limited availability of books???) I can’t get hold of so many, I’ll never be short of something to read. If, at some point, I finish reading one book and want to start on another (I always want to start a new one when I’ve finished the last), and it’s, oh, I don’t know… say it’s pissing with rain – the last thing I want is to have no choice but to go out and browse for a new one. I want the choice there, on my book shelves. Or, at the very least, to be able to go to my parents’ place at some point (where most of my collection resides) and pick up a few more.

But just because I do this, it doesn’t mean – by any stretch – that I don’t need libraries. We all need libraries. The very idea that so many will be closing is a reflection not on the public at large but on the coalition government, who quite obviously have no *insert expletive here* idea how important books are, whether in our formative years or somewhat later on. Whether for education purposes or for the pure pleasure of a good read, books are important. Without them, I honestly believe society would collapse. (To illustrate my point, have you ever seen a chav reading 1984 or A Passage to India? Thought not. I rest my case.)

So, if you have trouble locating me after the 21st and don’t know where to start looking, may I suggest you begin by looking between the pages of a certain Jasper Fforde book?

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