We’ve approached the 400€ heating hell problem with blankets and candles and it’s working because it’s not freezing in the house here in December in Portugal but you do need something to take the edge off. The atmosphere is a great side-effect and we can thank IKEA for having decent candles at a reasonable price. Christmas is supposed to be cosy so I settled in to watch the snooker final and to my amazement, Ronnie actually won, beating Aussie Neil Robertson 10-8. He’s been so successful that he’s decided that competing and winning isn’t the thing, it’s just enjoying your life, so being so talented at the game sometimes isn’t enough if you don’t have the mad desire to win anymore, don’t need the money and already have the fame, the reputation as well as being perhaps the greatest ever. Sporty Sunday had an amazing match between Spurs and Liverpool 2-2 and Man City beat Newcastle 0-4. Covid has had so many of this weekend’s games postponed and it looks like we could be on the way to another lockdown with games played with no crowd or not at all as the squads are thinning out with infected players. Loads of people sick, oh no, not another Christmas like this.
I had a sesh with Abby and Nick in Philadelphia and spent the rest of my time finishing off this week’s French lessons although the first five days I did Swedish instead. Then it was email catch-up time. You have to be careful with replying to emails because when everyone responds you’re back where you started. I have a notebook by my side, foolscap pages, and today I thought, I’m actually going to write something in it. I’m always writing onto screens but I have developed a longing for ink. Somewhere in the storage, I thought I had a Montblanc fountain pen but I couldn’t find it, I haven’t seen it in years but I used to use it all the time. Can you imagine writing with a fountain pen these days, it’s worth doing just for the pure aesthetic value. I’m sure you would write different things with such a beautiful object.
I saw today that Chile has elected a leftist president who is just 35 years old. He beat off the far-right candidate with 55% of the vote. It wasn’t just that Olivia and I had spent some time in Chile that attracted me to the story but more about how thin the margins are and the difference it makes between leftist and far-right. People say they’re all the same but I don’t think so, not in this case.
I’m always thinking about margins, the difference between first and second, fractions of seconds in motor racing and a fluke goal in football wins the cup, the win on a tie-breaker in tennis. The difference between winner/champion and second/loser is so publicly vast. Who knows who lost against Björn Borg those five times at Wimbledon or who did Federer beat or Djokovic or Nadal in all those finals (apart from each other), we just remember them. But imagine what it took to reach that final to play them for the unknown loser, to even be there, to lose and scuttle off into the shadows of history.
Music today was that rather special album from Talk Talk, Spirit of Eden (1988), produced by Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene. The dynamics alone are spectacular, the guitar solos, the tunes, the vocals, the rhythms (Lee Harris, drums, Paul Webb, bass), the sprawling intensity of it all. If you don’t know this album, drop everything and find 40 minutes of silence to fill it up with. Singer Mark Hollis retired from the music business after one more Talk Talk album (Laughing Stock, 1991) and a self-titled solo album (1998), he was occasionally heard of here and there but never again made a solo record or did anything else with Talk Talk. Sadly missed, he died in 2019 at the age of 64.