These ‘activities’ – another word I use loosely – are better characterized by the original Old English bisig, meaning careful, anxious, diligent.
And it is carefully, anxiously, diligently, that I have been following the news. I have watched and listened, read and wrote, considered, responded and ‘reacted’. I have liked, shared, commented, and re-tweeted far more than my blood pressure can handle. I have busied myself with some thankless and demeaning exchanges on local political forums – “I have photocopied your vile post Mr Smith” – and engaged in a series of WhatsApp conversations without discovering what’s up or down.
But then two things happened that transformed my sense of ennui.
The first was the appearance on Channel 4 of live test cricket, and those who took the decision to outbid Sky must be very happy. I certainly am, because the test, which finished an hour or so ago with a victory for England, was a superb game from beginning to end.
Joe Root batted magnificently and captained well. Given India’s fightback on the last day of their final test against Australia, his decision not to enforce the follow-on was sensible and correct.
Of course, Root knew that he could rely on Anderson, and Anderson did what Anderson does. That first over, in which his reverse swing did for Gill and Rahane, was as good as any I have seen. And I saw Michael Holding.
But his sub-title is How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain. It’s more specific and personal than this, because the book is actually about how imperialism has shaped Sathnam Sanghera: he is open about his own experience growing up in Wolverhampton (Enoch Powell’s constituency), not knowing English until he attended school, but took a first in English at Cambridge and has forged a career in journalism and writer (not always the same thing).
He was working for the FT when I knew him, but is now with The Times and Sunday Times, so I seldom see his columns and features, restricting myself to his books (The Boy With The Top-Knot, Marriage Material and now Empireland) where I find myself in awe of his honesty and his prose.
Test cricket and a good book. Reasons to be cheerful, part 1.
Today from the everysmith vaults: Joan Osborne sang with the Dead, or at least the post-Jerry variants of the Dead, and I have long been an admirer. But have only just discovered that she also tackled Bob’s oeuvre. Today, I am playing a show from Charleston, WV in which she shows that she is one of the few who can bring something new to a Bob song. Her version of Spanish Harlem Incident is sublime. Reasons to be cheerful, part 2!