Friday, 16 September 2016

Thistle Hotel London Heathrow

The journey has well and truly begun. The trip is a long one (35 hours from home to Thistle hotel), planes, airports, trains and a bus in the end. It was hot here yesterday. But a storm broke the weather during the night and today is stormy.

Flying from Melbourne to Dubai I had great seat mates. We chatted and laughed and made jokes. I sat beside a young woman (30?) with blue hair on the ends, and she is meeting up with friends and travelling through London, Paris and ending on a trip to Egypt.

The older couple sitting beside here was a man and his wife. She slept a lot. He is a retired postmaster and enjoyed chatting to us. Everything made him laugh. He had twinkly eyes and was a joy for a neighbour.

I did in the end see the whole 6th series of Downton Abby though the Christmas Special that winds it all up was mistakenly replaced with the Series 6, Episode 8 so whoever programs the entertainment for Emirates needs a talking to. I will catch up with it when I get home.

We arrived safely in Dubai which is a airport of the future. I really enjoy this airport having been in it twice before. Large lifts carry one up and down, people movers everywhere, elegant shops of which I can't afford but fun to window shop.  A couple of hours of stretching our legs and we were back on the plane to Heathrow.

I listened to more of The North Water by Ian McGuire.  ABC Book Club enjoyed it. They all agreed it is a raunchy, gruesome book.  I reached a certain animal incident in it and put it down. I actually deleted the book from my Kindle and Audible after that.  

It is a good story. No doubt about that. The writing is probably also good.  The language is foul. I mean really foul. The whalers of course used the language they probably knew at the time.  It was probably a good representation.

The cruelty to children made my stomach churn. The descriptive cruelty to animals made me cringe. More than cringe. My visual mind could not compromise with my stomach. It was dark on the plane, the story was darker. I was tired while I listened to it and far from home.

I thought, "No, I am moving on to happier stories."  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind harsh stories. I don't mind fictional crime stories or stories about war. I feel crime stories are just entertaining and interesting to watch the detectives solve them. War stories are quite moving usually and of course very sad.

To me the North Water is just over the top with gratuitous violence. If I heard the F word (which I can cope with) or the C word once,  I heard it a thousand times. I hate the C word.  Maybe the author felt he could not get his point across without the swearing every sentence. The animal cruelty, the beatings and pedophilia acts towards the street boys. The suffering.   I could have understood the story without that. I didn't find it gleeful as a couple of people on the ABC Book Club did. It is not gleeful.

I must admit I have a hard time accepting the desensitisation that people have developed towards pedophilia, beatings, killings and animal cruelty. I am glad I am not completely desensitised. I think if I read books like this one constantly and  followed news reports closely, I wouldn't be bothered by anything that happens in the world.  It is bad enough watching the abuse of the refugees in the detentions camp on Manus Island by our government.

Sitting in that dark air seat with snoring people around me, dinner wrappers on the floor, the hum of engines flying over the sea late at night, 40,000 feet high, and missing my husband and pets, I decided then and there, "No more."  I am not going to read books that distress me.  I am not going to join in when people gleefully talk about just how bad that person's or animal's situation is. I want to read the books that tell of inspiring people, interesting travels, gentle stories of the 20th Century. The authors of my Penguin books during the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's.

If I was reading this book in a sunny meadow by a bubbling brook would I have interpreted it differently? Maybe. Does our own setting contribute to our interpretations towards the stories we read? An interesting question.

There is enough suffering in the world. I read for knowledge and entertainment. I don't think The North Water is entertaining. Knowledgeable? Probably.  This book was long listed for the Booker Prize so obviously there are those who stand around, sipping wine, admiring its qualities. It did not make the short list.  The book stands out but to me it stands out for the wrong reasons. I have read a lot of books in my life and curiosity got me after seeing reactions to this. Is it something trendy? Maybe, but I get cross when people encourage me to read books because they are trendy.  I am not sure.

I would not discourage or encourage people to read books as this. They just aren't ' My Cup of Tea'. I had to say that because I am in England.  This is my review and perceptions of this book. Feel free to disagree with me. I don't mind. It is only a fictional book.

I arrived at Heathrow Airport early Thursday morning. Taking the Heathrow Express to terminal 5, then the Hopper Bus at bus gate 6, I arrived at my hotel. Dragging myself off the bus with my backpack, suitcase and purse I was very happy to smell the fresh air of this little neighbourhood. I walking the half block behind the bus to see the large hotel. It is old but clean and quiet. The beds are comfortable. It felt wonderful to shower and climb into a clean bed. I washed out all my clothes. It was the closest I could come to not throwing them all into the bin. Grubby.

Texting my husband to let him know I had arrived safely the Penguin and I fell asleep and slept the next 12 hours, rising once for long drinks of water. The Tiger beer I drank once I arrived ensured I would sleep well.  I asked the bartender what beer he would suggest as a cold beer tastes good when I am tired and dehydrated. Besides the water,  he handed me a Tiger beer which is a Thai beer. I am not a big beer drinker but I toasted my arrival and drank it in one swig. Like they do in the movies that take place in bars.

Today is Friday. My friend Judy arrives tomorrow morning. We are hoping to go into London on the train for a bit if she is not too tired. Sunday morning we pick up the car and head towards Cornwall on the motorway. Weather is stormy today but cloudy and cooler.  I heard thunder in the night. Tasmania does not get much thunder. It was comforting sounding.  London has been in the grips of a heat wave. I have brought Tasmanian weather with me. The next ten days are predicted to be cloudy and not above 20 C. (70F approx). Lovely.

This blog will be my diary of my trip. If people want to follow that is okay. If not that is okay too. After all not all of us like those old fashioned slide shows of someone's trip whilst gathered around the projector and screen. Your choice. My record.

Oh, and by the way.......

Guess who didn't want to get out of bed
this morning.


  1. I'm with you - I can't read gratuitous violence, crime stories anymore. I've even stopped watching The Walking Dead with the fam as I'm sooo over humans being nasty & cruel to each other.

    I've been wondering about The North Water as I've heard the writing is tremendous, but your review has convinced me that I can miss it after all.

    I'll stick with books like Our Souls at Night, which I just finished & adored.

    And I can't wait to see what you & the travelling penguin get up to next - Bon voyage ✈️

    1. Thanks Brona. It is nice to know others feel the same way about some of these books. My card reader for my camera fell apart today so I will try to get into London tomorrow to either get another one or a cord so I can download my photos. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. I'm very much looking forward to tagging along on your trip. I think I would have stayed in bed with penguin for another 12 hours! I was thinking about The North Water, but one of the panel on the ABC Book Club mentioned the animal thing and that changed my mind. This type of book is just the reason I almost never read contemporary 'literary' fiction. It aims to shock or it's whiny or it's too much like real life. I, too, read to learn and for pleasure. Not my cup of tea either. Have fun on your trip! Cornwall is a place we've missed on our trips so far.

    1. I am really looking forward to Cornwall. I don't feel bad about discarding this book at all. I need to get a new card reader for my camera as mine fell apart today. No way to download photos from my camera. Hope to get one tomorrow. I am hopeless with animal cruelty. It just drives me wild so any book that has it gets burned (well almost).

  3. i applaud your rejection of "north water". i decided long ago to not read that kind of stuff... don't how many books i've trash-canned because of that decision. i'm not sorry. ms. mudpuddle and i are greatly looking forward to the pictures and your descriptions... how lovely it is that you go to all the work to take us along! much appreciated here in rural Oregon...

  4. Thank you Mudpuddle (Mud for short?)😊 My card reader for camera fell apart so need to either get cordmor new card reader in the city today or I will only have phone for pics. Hoping to solve this dilemma soon.

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