Archive for May 29, 2011

>CHOICES: A DIGRESSION

Posted: May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

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When the International Dagger Shortlist was announced on Friday 20 May I stopped reading Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen, which didn’t make the list, and switched to the impeccably researched long historical novel The Saint-Florentin Murders by Jean-Franc0is Parot, translator Howard Curtis, which did make the shortlist.


I found it difficult at first to get into this book possibly because I am still not used to reading on a Kindle, but now I am enjoying it immensely, although I have some reservations. I should finish reading this book in a few days, and then I will be able to pick my winner from the seven books on the International Dagger shortlist.

I am a bit of a history nut, and my Kindle understands this, because very frequently when switch off up comes a portrait of Alexandre Dumas; reminding me of the first adult books I read- The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After [my favourite] and The Count of Monte Cristo. Tough competition for M. Jean-Francois Parot.

After 7 years of dentistry [5 as a student, 2 as a shakily qualified dentist] I decided I could not face another 30 plus years of molars and incisors, and longed to go back to university to study History.
In those days the London A-level History examination consisted of a paper each on English and European History, and a third paper on a special subject chosen by the school or candidate. One of the special subjects was France in the Age of Richelieu and Mazarin, the years roughly 1624-1661, but although I knew a lot about this period, I decided that the convoluted politics of France were too tricky and that The Great Powers in the Far East, 1840-1941, was an easier option.
The Ancien Regime background to The Saint-Florentin Murders set in 1774, and the more recent events at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan make it clear that French political life continues to be Byzantine, and full of “characters”.

The British taxpayer after providing me with a generous grant for 5 years, was rightly unwilling to fund a further 3 years study at university, and therefore based on financial necessity I chose dentistry over history. I suppose life is full of choices but would I have read as much crime fiction, or met so many interesting people if I was a history scholar.

If I might digress to ask a question. I was taught in school [admittedly in the era of chalk dust and the cane] that “my wife and I” was the correct usage. But recently I heard the urbane, intelligent and articulate President Obama refer to “me and Michelle”, and earlier the slightly less urbane, intelligent and articulate PM David Cameron refer to “me and Samantha”.
What is the correct usage? Do politicians have such a huge ego that they automatically think of themselves first?
Oops that is two questions.