Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Suddenly it's summer by Jan Needle

Doncha just love computers. I've just spent two hours writing a blog  because I'm off on a boat tomorrow morning and it has no electricity, let alone the web. And I've just come back from Wales (it's a hard life, now come on, you must admit it), so the window of opportunity, ho ho, was very small.

Small enough for me to finish the blog, put in some pictures and some urls, schedule it and retire for a cup of tea. Except that it disappeared. The blog, I tells ya, is no more.

So what did it say? It was about serendipity (seren, Welsh for star. dipity...well, who knows?). In the week Amazon announced they were selling more ebooks than REAL books (joke, honest) I came across a real book called A Beginner's Guide to Acting English among the pile of swappies left by earlier users of the holiday house I was dossing in with rich rellies. I'd been planning to buy a book for my Kindle, but - horror of horrors - no wifi, or whatever it's called. And there was this REAL book.

By Shappi Khorsandi, a REALLY funny woman wot I'd often seen on television and the steam radio. And it's wonderful. Not just funny, but eye-opening, too. It starts when she's a four-year-old in Iran, daughter of a funny, famous, left-wing satirist whom she knows as Baba. Baba is pro-revolution, wants to see the Shah kicked out, and writes about it in his magazine.

So famous over there, that he goes to London. Not for very long - but long enough for the revolution to start, and the Shah to be deposed. Good thing too, Shappi is told. At her age, why argue? If Baba says good, then good it must be.

Somebody once warned us humans not to wish for things too hard, in case they come true. Within a ridiculously short time the anti-Shah satirist in on the Ayatollah's death list, and the streets of London become very dangerous. The Special Branch whisk the family - Maman, Baba, Shappi and her funny, satirical small brother - to a safe house in Windsor, where they fervently expect to see the Queen. Even have tea with her, for Baba is such a popular man, thinks Shappi.

Not so popular with the Special Branch when he invites all his London friends to the secret house to have a picnic, though. Baba really is a funny man. He just can't take life too seriously. Shappi's brother finds it equally hard, although she worries enough for all of them. And their family, left in Iran, suffers appallingly.

It is a funny book, as you'd expect. It's also a fantastic picture of the reality of being a refugee. And if you think it'll make you proud to be British, Ms Khorsandi is quite prepared to tell you how the Shah, and Khomeini and all the rest of it acually came about. Something to do with America, and Britain, and oil. Fill in the gaps yourself.

Antje and the German sense of humour
But the point for me was this - I was alone without an ebook. And I found a real book. And serendipity did the rest. So when people say us electric vandals are going to kill the most important thing since sliced bread, or whatever, dinna fash yersel. The magic lives.

I wrote a lot more last time, and about other things. Like Cally's virtual Edinburgh fest, which I've also bunged up on my web page and on twitter and on facebook. I wish I was going to 'be' there, not least because I am, apparently, being given lots of weight, and had the chance to go head to head (virtually) with Andrew Motion on the subject of Long John Silver.

But I'll be driving steel spikes into banks, not wood spikes into hearts (or was that Dracula?) and eating sausages cooked on wood fires, bereft of the important things and surviving only on friends, and music, and booze.

But I'll drag a picture from my Treasure Island book on to this page to show I haven't lost the commercial instinct, and I'll catch up on all the blogs I've missed, and the Edinburgh Fest when my boat comes in. Literally.

Have fun everyone. I will. And now I'm going to save this separately in case the blog fairy eats the bugger up!


Dan Holloway said...

I'm not 100% sure of the relevance of the pic, but it's a super one. We've been to Another Place twice and find it both rather magical and thoroughly suited to a little mischief

Jan Needle said...

the relevance is this, dan. having lost my blog and torn my hair out (not a long job, sadly)i put in antje's picture because it was the only one i could find in a nano second on my desktop. and i like it, too. antje and christin came to visit from berlin a few weeks ago (before the rains started) and we took them to formby to see the iron men. as you can see, they loved them...