Friday, 27 June 2008

Things to do

"Are you on holiday yet?" acquaintances ask.

Friends know better but even they assume that this is a quiet time of year for me. I wish it were. The "to do" list lengthens every day and any spare time must be spent on the house, if I can summon the energy.

Just getting on with jobs on the "to do" list would be good. Many of them would be enjoyable if I weren't so tired, and even housework might make enough of a difference for me to feel I'd achieved something after a few hours. But I'm continually held up by computer problems. I've been suffering from advice that doesn't always make sense. For instance, explaining problems with the screen of my borrowed laptop, I'm faced with the response that it must in some way be my fault.

"It's because you've dropped it," I'm told. I didn't drop it. Then, "You've downloaded Firefox. Why did you do that? Who said you could? You shouldn't download strange programmes. They always affect the computer. That's why the screen has gone black. Why didn't you stick with Explorer?"

I try to explain and, after a while, give up. Mostly the borrowed laptop works - every so often it stalls and takes yet more of my time. I begin to wonder if life was easier before computers.

Still, I know what I have to do this weekend. I have to spring-clean the house. Yes, I know it's past midsummer but spring was busy - and winter and autumn and all last year. And I'm giving a short talk at work which requires research - rather more than I anticipated. So I should reread the Bacchae of Euripides and, for the first time, the whole of Cervantes' Don Quixote. I've only read bits before. If I can do all that this weekend I'll be more or less on schedule.

I started Don Quixote on the train home - page 47 already. 800 or so pages to go. It's a lovely old Penguin edition with the price on the cover: 8/6.

I think I need a Sancho Panza to do the housework. I think I need more than a weekend.

In Marlowe's play of Doctor Faustus, Faustus quotes Ovid's Amores, begging that his last night will last longer: "O lente lente currite noctis equi!" (Run slowly, slowly, horses of the night). Time moves at its usual speed and the night comes to an end.

I expect the weekend will end before I've finished half the tasks I've intended.


Anonymous said...

:-)   :-)   :-)
You are welcome to visit me on holiday, whenever it works out. The accommodation is modest, but the vegetarian cooking is reasonable. I am in a rather pretty town, where Lenin and James Joyce both spent some time, and which you can reach from St Pancras with one change.
Can you put a version of what you are preparing online? Would be fun to read it too.
I have read through Don Quixote only once, and really should do it again, because every time I reread part of it I notice something new. Everyone seems to feel differently on what the book is "really about". For me, it is Cervantes playing with what you expect in a story, subverting it at every level imaginable (from the preface on) and simultaneously creating unforgettable characters. My great namesake and favourite character (variously an infidel dog, a learned and judicious historian, and a sage) manages to be at the heart of the book without actually appearing! Even the most minor characters can be fascinating: is Maritornes disgusting, or is she lovable? But maybe the best joke of all is how Cervantes deals with the fake adventures that someone else published (and which in real life must have made him furious), by working it into the story, and having Don Quixote change his plans just to prove the fake author wrong.

Kathz said...

Zurich? (The source of my knowledge is Tom Stoppard and there are, I think, other possibilities.) What a good place to be.

I haven't made much progress with any of my tasks just now - and I don't think my ideas are ready to write down just yet. I'll try to post something about it all next week but it may seem rather dry. The connection between the topics is W.H. Auden. I'll see how it goes. Thanks for encouraging me with your enthusiasm for Cervantes - it's helping me enjoy Don Quixote.