Thursday 9 January 2014

Reasonable Bloke Or Grumpy Git?

Readers of this Blog will know that last summer in the midst of the extreme heat I developed a scary heart problem and then experienced severe pain from a slipped disk (or more accurately a "spinal disc herniation"). These are both now more or less resolved without treatment - aside from some awkward exercises which I'm still doing intermittently.

Spooky then to read A M Homes' novel This Book Will Change Your Life, recommended to me by Hafal's health and safety consultant Amanda Trimble (not in her official capacity!) who had read my post about Homes' more recent book May We Be Forgiven.

Spooky because the novel's hero also suffers a cardiac episode followed by severe pain in the height of summer which appear to resolve themselves without treatment. It is never fully explained but his problems seem to have been extreme physical manifestations of a mental breakdown caused by social isolation and a dreary life of unsatisfactory routines. In my case I did consider psychological causes and indeed these can be behind heart arrhythmias and some back pain problems, although my symptoms were so specific as to tip the matter more in the direction of physical causes.

Unlike me the novel's hero lives in Los Angeles and, also unlike me, his response to his health episode is to embark on a relentless, warm and friendly engagement with everybody he runs into, ranging from a doughnut salesman to a Hollywood megastar. I'm afraid by contrast I just returned to my normal persona of reasonable bloke or grumpy git according to mood and provocation.

In spite of its title this isn't a self-improvement book (apparently the publishers had some trouble because people didn't want to be seen reading it) but there again maybe it is obliquely - it's brilliant and uplifting, in some ways quite like May We Be Forgiven because it is about redemption and a sort of reignition of joyous life.

Maybe I should have read it before my rehabilitation commenced at the end of last summer?