David Bouchier

There is a curious myth that summer is the season when we should catch up on our reading. Every newspaper and magazine publishes lengthy summer reading lists, as if we are going to spend our few short months of light and warmth closeted indoors with a heap of books. Nothing could be further from the truth. Winter is the time for reading, the season of cold and darkness, arthritis and self-doubt. That is when book lists should come out, because only good books can save us from the winter blues. But what are good books?

My wife has been reading a book about habit. I hope this has nothing to do with me, because I prefer to think of myself as a man without habits. Every day is a new adventure, once I have had my coffee and cereal and apple juice and looked at the paper and listened to Morning Edition. But I was shaken out of my complacency earlier this year when we arrived in France and went to our usual village market.

A back yard pool is a sad sight in November. Even if a few mild days still lie ahead, the pool is yesterday’s news. The Halloween witches have already vanished from most front yards, and the lawn furniture is being packed away, but what do you do with a pool? You can’t hide it in the garage like a barbecue, or put it out for garbage collection like a broken lawn chair.

Early yesterday morning a whole hour of daylight was stolen from our pleasant evenings and placed when we least need it, in the unfriendly mornings, all because of the cruel and pointless institution of Daylight Saving time. When I was a kid, and before I realized the futility of it, I was a rebel against time. We had to be at school early, and early is not my favorite time of day. Why shouldn’t school start at a civilized hour, like after lunch? But nobody ever listened to common sense, then or now. The time lords had decreed that the school day must start early.

Yesterday, October 25, was the six hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. Nobody would remember that battle if it hadn’t been for Shakespeare’s Henry V, and the 1944 movie with young Laurence Olivier with those images of great flights of arrows soaring into the French ranks.

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