I'm not very good with those round tuit things. I never seem to get any. I have lots of good intentions, but I never seem to follow them up. It's taken 25 years for me to get round to learning Greek, which has been number one on my todo list for all that time.
I'm not entirely sure about the other things on that list, since it'll take at least another round tuit before I actually make one. However, you can get some idea of what it might contain by looking at unread books on my shelves:
- Italian in Three Months (Hugo Publishing). I bought this in 1992, which is quite a lot of three months ago. Greek's going to take me a lifetime, so I suspect that the Language of Love will remain forever a mystery to me.
- On The Good Life, Cicero (Penguin Classics). When I got this in 1989 I had actually read Hugo's Latin in Three Months, and was starting to look at Cicero.
- Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott. I've read the first couple of pages of this about 3 or 4 times in the last 20 years. So I know all about the difference between Anglo-Saxon and Norman names for animals.
- Garbage Land - On the Secret Trail of Trash, Elizabeth Royle. Bought at Baltimore airport, presumably because my bags didn't weigh enough. I never manage to read much on planes. One day it will become part of that trash trail, probably still unopened.
- The Maya, Michael D Coe. The Maya are interesting. They left behind writings which have been solved like crossword puzzles by scholars, and they had an amazing culture, including horrible sarcificial ceremonies and stuff. Which is probably about as much as I'll ever know about them.
- Arctic Dreams - Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, Barry Lopez. I think I'd been listening to Glenn Gould's old Canadian radio documentaries about the solitude of Northern Canada when I came across this in a second hand bookshop. I did start it, and it's very poetic and fascinating. I should have left it in that shop for someone who might have appreciated it.
- Step By Step Esperanto, Montagu C Butler. 1989 (I bought a lot of books that year, it seems). What was I thinking? A quick flip through this book will convince you what a sad waste of time Esperanto was. Mr Butler explains that English speakers find it difficult to learn other languages because our vowel sounds are so rubbish, and that Esperanto is the answer to all modern ills. He has little verses slagging off English. What they've got to do with learning a soulless language that no-one uses, I don't know:
We speak of a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
You may find a lone mouse, or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Whey shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
When I speak of a foot and you show me two feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother we NEVER say methren!
- Τα Πρωτοβρόχια μου [My First Rainfalls], Sofoklis H Andreadis (Published in Manchester). This is one of those books that an author has paid to have printed (nowadays you'd just start a blog), and I got it in Manchester when I was a student there. I bought it because it was in Greek, but it is a book of this guy's poetry. I can't get into poetry. This is another one I should feel guilty about - someone has been through with a biro and corrected various printing errors. A labour of love languishing on my shelf.