So whatever made me go and search for reviews of the book I’m currently reading, The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, is beyond me. Maybe I just wanted to find out more about the author himself.
I’m right at the end of this brilliant book and I have been guessing like crazy what it is that is actually happening to the protagonist, Mr Ryder. Of course, now I have spotted in one of the articles about Ishiguro that Ryder has dementia and I have had to re-adjust all my ideas and possible scenarios. By the way, if you are halfway through this book and I have just spoilt it for you, sorry! There is still a chance that it isn’t true…
I’ll keep reading and will stay away from Google for the next few hours. I don’t think I’ll be able to go on with my day until I finish it now so I’m going to take the kids to our fitness club where they can swim and I can read. Keep checking this space for a review.
Considering how much we depend on the written word – anything from Twitter to text messaging is now word-based – those children who read less would not only be at a disadvantage, they are likely to seriously lag behind as new technology continues to develop.
As a book lover, I would choose a good book over a TV programme every time but I can see the attraction TV holds for many people, with its already half chewed information nicely packaged and ready to be swallowed as we relax after a hard day at work. So we need to make time for books. We need to remember how different a reading experience can be when we have a real book to hold, smell, leaf through. When we develop a real attachment to a beautiful object called a book, with its illustrations, its front cover, its tea stain on one of the pages that reminds us of the day we read it while enjoying a cup of tea, we enhance the experience of reading. When we make time to sit and read quietly, we start to associate reading with positive emotions. And our children will follow.
Of course, those of us who worry about this are probably exactly the parents whose children already read and have their own books. And those who don’t are likely to be the kind of people who wouldn’t even notice that there is a problem because how would they come across it? And what we will soon have is a social divide that has on one side those who read, and can afford to read, and on the other side those who don’t. Those from the poorer background, with less opportunities to get a good education.
According to Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, it shouldn’t be up to schools to get children reading. But in the real world, if the parents don’t read, the only chance their children have of developing a love of books is precisely through schools. However difficult the task, schools would have to continue or even increase their efforts because those parents would not care.
Carry a cover with you at all times
A book, a magazine, even a leaflet will do. If the subject of your mission looks at you, just pretend to read. Of course you’ll have to be quick to lower your head but if you do get caught in the process, you can always compose an air of intellectual thought. Stare into your cup and move your lips a little, as if muttering wisdoms about the world.
Play the role of a writer
This is one of the best devices for people watching. You can get away with staring directly at almost anyone as long as you assume the vacant air of a writer deep in thought about their book and then jot down a few things in your notebook. The laptop doesn’t work as well in this case and would probably make you look like a nerdy freak.
Pretend to be blind
For the really determined and shameless the ultimate props would be a white stick and a large pair of sun glasses. Or you could try wearing sunglasses and facing another way while observing your subject with just your eyes. Keep switching sides though unless you want a headache afterwards.
Reflective surfaces and peripheral vision are good if you are a bit of a chicken and are prepared to sacrifice the image quality for that extra bit of safety. And the risk takers would do well staring openly and unashamedly. If you do get caught, smile and start a conversation. That always works. Almost.
First published on Itchyliverpool.co.uk
How to people watch without getting caught