Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Jottings from the Tropics: 1 February 2012

Took the car in for its service yesterday. Have just stopped hyperventilating. Road rage? You better believe it. I am now tempted to buy an armoured personnel carrier (and some armoured personnel, natch) to traverse this bloody dodgy bloody goat track we’re forced to use while the bridge is being rebuilt. (Thirteen months and counting.) Sure, purchasing new four tyres every year would be cheaper than forking out once for an APC, but you can’t fit a 120 mm detachable mortar to a hatchback. (Don’t think I haven’t tried.) Also the APC comes with a teasmade. Oh, they say it’s for heating army rations, but I know a teasmade when I see one. There’s even a little shelf for the biscuit tin. Plus caterpillar tracks.

- o O o -

And while I was waiting at the service centre, I managed to finish China Miéville’s’ Kraken and get more than halfway through Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, which is ‘set against the backdrop of the Opium Wars’. The latter is not an easy read because many of the characters speak in pidgin and patois and creole of all kinds and Ghosh does not always help out the reader. Still, the alternative entertainment was watching Tony Abbott address the National Press Club. So, yanno...

Still reading Foucault’s Pendulum (which I didn’t take with me). It is slow going, but I am determined to finish it before the end of the Wet. I’ve been browsing through the reviews to see how it was received at the time of release.

Anthony Burgess wrote in the New York Times:
''Foucault's Pendulum'' will almost certainly become a best seller as well [as Name of the Rose], and great are the rewards for those who actually manage to read it. For while it is not a novel in the strict sense of the word, it is a truly formidable gathering of information delivered playfully by a master manipulating his own invention — in effect, a long, erudite joke.
(Which reminds me, I’ve got the The Long Day Wanes here somewhere. For the next Wet, maybe?)

On the other hand, Jonathan Coe’s fulsome review of the book praises Eco’s Chandleresque grasp of the thriller genre. Coe’s article concludes:
I doubt if we will see a more exhilarating novel published this year, and you don't have to take a reviewer's word for it: can 600,000 Italians be wrong?
Still giddy from the car-induced hypocapnia, I can’t tell if that’s a genuine attempt at argumentum ad populum or merely an over-extended joke. I think I know how Professor Eco would interpret it.

- o O o -

And back at the asylum in the rainforest...Little Poss caught his hind claws on the flyscreen last night. I decided to let him work out an escape for himself. If a wild animal approaches you on its own terms, that’s fine. Approaching a wild animal that is dangling from a flyscreen, trying to pretend that there’s nothing at all unusual about the situation will only end in tears. And not those of the dangling animal.

His life does seem to be more exciting than mine. Mind you, I’m not covered in ectoparasitic louseflies or filled to the gunwales with tapeworms. Not all of the time. Nor am I likely to be hunted down by a carpet snake as I take a nap. Mostly. And I’ve never been caught by my hind foot on the kitchen flyscreen.

Well, hardly ever.


Dave Coulter said...

Yes, an armored vehicle would be useful around here but for entirely different reasons. The roads are OK but some of the drivers ????

BTW It's Groundhog Day here tomorrow (on 2/2 anyway). Is there a similar Southern hemispheric holiday where charismatic rodents predict when summer ends for you-all?

Snail said...

Once you get used to hat drivers, the only real problem up here are the DUIs. We have a disproportionate number of those.

I can't think of an equivalent to Groundhog Day. No real hibernators. (Wait, I think we might have one, but I can't remember what it is.) I'm picturing what might happen if someone treated a wombat (which isn't a rodent, of course) as if it were Punxsutawney Phil. Lost hands possibly. Lost fingers certainly!

A cyclone predictor --- now, that would be useful!


Teasmade? Had to look that one up.

Snail said...

We used to have one when I was a kid. Monstrous things, they are. The noise of boiling water is louder than the alarm and they spit steam everywhere.

I suspect they are the inspiration for the whole Steampunk genre.

Robyn Delaney said...

The only truly hibernating mammals in Australia are mountain pygmy possums (Burramys parvus) and some populations of echidnas (Tasmania, high country etc)

Snail said...

Thanks, Robyn. It was the Burramys I was thinking of. I didn't know that about echidnas, but it seems like a sensible thing to do in those places. I'm surprised the human pop'n doesn't do it too.

I wonder if we could persuade an echidna to be our groundhog?