Thursday, December 25, 2003

Tonight, Christmas Present (Ghost of). This morning, Christmas Presents (lots of).

In a not-altogether-unsuccessful attempt to get in to the Christmas Spirit (I sort of missed the run-up, being in my hole and writing so it felt like Christmas rather came out of nowhere) I decided it might be fun to read a chapter a night of "A Christmas Carol", starting two nights ago. The first night, it was to Maddy and her friend, who put up with it stoically. Last night, with the appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past, I had a lot more listeners, including Holly, who is knitting me a scarf. Quite looking forward to tonight's appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Reading aloud changes the way you relate to a book -- it occurred to me that I'd never realised that Scrooge's childhood would have been in the late eighteenth century, for example. I've never read Dickens aloud before, and am fascinated both by the way he occasionally goes on too long, belabours a point, repeats it sir and then goes over it once again, ensuring that his readers understand, comprehend, and are entirely satisfied with the points that he makes, points that each reader needs to understand, etc... but also in the way he'll use economies to make subtler points. There are many places he uses words like a miniaturist, conjuring scenes and emotions in small spaces, saying a lot with a little.

Was woken up too early and sat, blinking, on a couch, as the family opened presents -- some fun, some cool, some goofy: Mike and Holly got me an electronic picture receiver, for example, which will apparently download 30 images for me a night. My wife gave me a new Swiss Army Watch, and she and Maddy got me the two volumes of the art of Maurice Sendak. My assistant got me smoked salmon.

And I have to go -- Maddy and I are going to listen to the anniversary Just a Minute on Radio 4 now. Hurrah for the Internet.