Monday, January 15, 2007


For the past few days I've been laid low with a streaming cold, a sore cough and an irritable sneeze. I rarely get the kind of colds that necessitate time off work, but this time I've had little energy to do much but stay in bed or mooch around the house. I've been drinking plenty of hot honey and lemon, downing vitamin C tablets and craving comfort food packed with cheese and cream. The latter are the last thing one should eat when mucus filled, so luckily my good doctor and nutritionist M has been trying to nurse me back to health with chicken broths packed with red chillis, lemongrass, galangal, pak choi and other cleansing Asian goodness.

With little energy to do much this weekend, Douglas Kennedy has been my lifeline. His novels are guaranteed to have me gripped from beginning to end. I've read all of them - from The Big Picture and The Job to The Pursuit of Happiness and A Special Relationship. State of the Union is a 500-page whopper about a conventional, small town's doctor's wife whose life, and the life of those around her, is turned upside down and inside out by one moment of passion that comes back to haunt her some 30 years later. An utterly compelling read by an author whose thrillers are a cut more intelligent and complex than most.

I finished it an hour ago and have now begun Vikram Seth's Two Lives about the enduring love affair between his Indian great uncle Shanti and his German great aunt Henny, who first met when Shanti left India for Berlin in the 1930s for medical school and found himself lodging with a German Jewish family. So far it's begun engagingly, but I'm only a few pages in and the heady aroma of M's beef stroganoff is now beckoning me into the kitchen.

Taking Friday off work made me feel very guilty because there's so much to do. In previous jobs it was easier to go into work despite being laid low with a cold as it was easier to coast through the day if I needed to; but my current job is much more demanding and there's no let up in my working day: it's full-on from the time I get in to the time I leave, and the only time I manage to get an adequate lunch break is when I force myself to physically leave the office and go to the gym for an hour. Let's see how I feel tomorrow...

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