1. I recently finished reading the fifth book in Stephen King’s epic (and it well deserves that description; decades in the writing, and huge in scale) Dark Tower series. I enjoyed it, and some of the ideas in it are staggeringly imaginative, but … well, the thing is, King’s style has changed so much in the last decade or so that the last couple of DT books almost feel as if they could have been written by someone else. I’d hate to think that might be the case, and in fact I suspect it’s because I haven’t read many of SK’s books in the last seven years or so. The chances are high that his writing genuinely has become more elegant and impressive, and that I just haven’t seen the various stages of that evolution. Certainly hope that’s the case, as the DT series deserves to be seen as a classic of imaginative fiction, though as it’s fantasy, I’ll wager it’ll be ignored or overlooked on a critical and academic level.
  2. On the tube last night, there was an attractive woman; her facial appearance was a kind of mix of Joanne Whalley and Katie Holmes, though with a darker skin hue which suggested a foreign origin, and she was casually but stylishly dressed. But then she ruined all this by producing, and then starting to read, a celebrity gossip magazine. Tch.
  3. It suddenly occurred to me the other day that I lived in the South of England for 10 years, then the North for 12 years (off and on), and now I’m back in the South again. And I have to say that until I moved to the North, I was utterly unaware of the North-South divide in the way that it’s often perceived – after I moved to Sheffield, people were often keen to point out my southern origins to me, and a girlfriend’s father even made some remark to the effect of my family moving North to be richer, or to exploit some economic benefit, or similar nonsense. And it was often portrayed as if the South of England spends all its time thinking of ways to plot the demise of the North, and to find more ways to move everything to London. Not only is this simply not true, but the – equally unappealing – fact of the matter is that many people in the South of England don’t even think about the North; they’re utterly oblivious to it in terms of their everyday thinking. Whereas a startling number of people I met in Sheffield were actively anti-South almost as if it was a matter of personal pride. All very odd.
  4. I like Toblerone, but it’s one of those chocolate brands that I never think of in ‘everyday’ terms – it’s either offered at half price when I buy a magazine, or I’m buying it at an airport to get rid of local currency. It’s an international brand, and it’s been around for as long as I can remember, but it somehow always seems to be on the fringes of the chocolate market, for reasons I can’t adequately explain.