Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The World According To Bertie

For comfort food I turn to spaghetti bolognese, for comfort reading I turn to Alexander McCall Smith. As I started on the book I wrote those opening words in my blog posting and saved them for when the book was finished. A few days later the following paragraph written by Helen appeared in Helen and Ian's Book Blog : "People widely accept the concept of 'comfort food'. I wonder if anyone else has special books to which they turn and reread for comfort or inspiration?" Well I don't return to McCall Smith's books to re-read them (not yet anyway) and they don't inspire me But they are the spag bol of reading for me. They are undemanding, entertaining and, above all, comfortable. And for anyone with a knowledge and love of Edinburgh (as I do) the 44 Scotland Street and The Sunday Philosophy Club series are just that little bit more special.

Having said that there is something about The World According to Bertie (the fourth in the 44 Scotland Steet series) which seems to me to be rather self-indulgent on the Author's part. McCall Smith is an exceptional man - that cannot be denied. He was, amongst other things, Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and served on national and international bioethics bodies until he gave it up in 1999 to concentrate on writing fiction after the global recognition of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. However in this book his desire to show off his exceptional knowledge occasionally grates and appears to have been done for no other reason than to show that he has that knowledge.

That won't stop me reading the next one and the one after that. I love spag bol too much.

People who do that [decide that Edinburgh is too small for them and move to London] often then discover that London is too big for them, much to the amusement of those who stayed behind in Edinburgh in the belief that it was just the right size for them.

Money, education - these give you freedom, but they can take you away from your roots, your place.

We are here [in life] and by and large we seem to have a need to continue. In that case, the real question to be addressed is: how are we going to make the experience of being here as fulfilling, as good as possible?

...the English are half mad when they think nobody's looking.

Unhappiness in childhood was worse than the unhappiness one encountered in later life; it was so complete, so seemingly without end.

What if? Big Lou's answer came quickly: One did not engage in such idle speculation in Arbroath. 'No point thinking about that,' she said 'It didn't happen'.

...for most of us nothing very much happens; that is our life.

But was it better, he wondered, to be trapped [in a marriage] with a Porsche or not trapped without a Porsche?

Do you remember his book-distressing service for the nouveau riche? [CJ that would be a really good idea for you.]

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