I guess I should introduce myself. I am Felix’s sister, Rhian. Most of
you reading this probably know me anyway cos you’re my friends and I’ve
told you to read this. But it is Felix’s page and one must assume that
people read his page who don’t know me and might wonder why the writing
style has changed so suddenly.
Interspersed between culture and food, opera and economics, high living and
humour, you may occasionally come across me. I am the opposite of Felix so whatever
he is, I’m not and you can build your own impression of me from that.
Now, because of our dissimilarities, Felix is a wonderful brother to have.
I can consult him on everything I don’t know and be given an opinion without
having to think about it. It’s really quite useful. I am, however, slowly
realising that there are more opinions out there than just his and mine so we’re
opening up the Very Important Things to a wider audience. Like what books to
take to Antarctica and whether flying to San Francisco for an opera
is an entirely normal thing to do. Justifiable, no doubt; excessive, perhaps.
Today I’ve been Christmas shopping. Normally this is something I save
until Dec 23rd at the earliest but this year (and next, and the one after that,
if the boat gets in…) I will be on the southernmost continent unable to
shop. How nice! So I’ve been Christmas shopping and was dismayed to find
Cambridge packed with people on a similar mission. As a result, none of you
are getting very much and most of you are getting nothing at all. Instead, we
can meet on this web-page and have a cyber-conversation which is far cheaper
and more rewarding experience for everyone anyway.
The idea is that amidst the postings of high culture Manhattan you may find
a reminder that there are people far, far away where there is no organised culture,
no opera, no shopping and, alas, no continual connection to the internet. Felix
will send me the debate via the daily cyperpulses I will get aboard ship and
on base. I will be travelling aboard the Ernest
Shackleton, and hopefully going to Halley
Through these websites, and the general British Antarcic Survey website,
you can track where I am, read current diaries and find out if we ever make
it. Unlike last
Anyway, I leave in three weeks, so the time has come to choose some books.
Today, armed with my list from the bookclub,
I gave up on Christmas and installed myself in Waterstones instead.
I am very fickle. It’s got to feel good, look good and have a great opening
line. So I came home with:
The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster (amazon.com,
recommended by Felix.
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (amazon.com;
from Terry’s hit list
Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell (amazon.com;
and Three to See the King, by Magnus Mills (amazon.com;
from Michelle’s choices
And The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (amazon.com;
Everything is Illuminated (recommended by both Felix and Michelle)
was in my hands and very almost bought but it was hardback and had big writing;
not good for my weight limit. I can go back though. The Master and Margarita
can, likewise, still be bought if enough of you feel like reading along.
Terry, Why Call Them Back From Heaven was not in stock but I fingered
Philosophy and Social Hope for a long time before the deep down knowledge
that it terrified me too much to go it alone became pretty apparent. If any
of you out there feel like reading along and holding my hand, I’ll go
back and buy it. As a small compensation, however, I bought
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell (amazon.com,
recommended by Felix . It seemed accessible but I hope deep enough that Terry
will not give up on me forever.
(Andre, I’ve read Perfume… excellent choice though, thankyou.)
Now then, I also have on my bookshelf, waiting to be packed:
You Shall Know Our Velocity (Dave Eggers), Coming Through Slaughter
(Michael Ondaatje), The Songlines (Bruce Chatwin), The Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn (Twain), African Laughter (Doris Lessing),
To Kill a Mocking Bird (Harper Lee), The Bridge of Saint Luis Rey
(Thornton Wilder), The Poisonwood Bible (Barabara Kingsolver), The
God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy), One Hundred Years of Solitude
(GG Marquez), Poems by Robert Frost, The Prophet (Khalil
Gibran), Death in Venice (Thomas Mann) and, I’m sorry to say
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullmann. I am also yet to finish The
Lord of the Rings. I started delving into Meditations by Marcus
Aurelius last night (courtesy of Phil) and they’re coming too. There’s
also The Coldest March (Susan Solomon) as compulsory Antarctic reading
and Tamata and the Alliance (Bernard Moitessier) that Alex gave me
to instil yet more adventuresomeness into my spirit.
I can’t take all of these. Really, I can’t. So, please, fill out
a comment box and cast your votes. (On that note, if you can think of anything
else I’ll need, add away. I have also just bought a CD player that plays
mp3s and a v cheap but v cute ‘digital dream’ digital camera that
I got cos Steve has one and I reckon even I can operate. And I’ll take
a posh camera too but am torn between an SLR or rangefinder…)