The Satyricon

It is good to see the country united at last.  We seem, at least and at last, to be agreed that the whole Brexit debate appears to have resulted in a complete bugger’s muddle.  I tell myself I shouldn’t slow down and look at all the chaos, but I can’t help myself. It is a quite enthralling, unfolding, real-life drama, with a train rushing towards a cliff edge and the passengers and crew arguing about what to do.

In contrast, here at home we have been facing our own quiet dilemma.  Our 11 years old dog, Jack, was found to have cancer during a recent, separate operation.  We haven’t been able to decide on the best course of action: Leave it be, let him enjoy his life (which he seems to do), or agree to another operation (which he would hate)?  Would the cure be worse than the illness? No one can tell us.

It has been such a difficult debate that, in desperation recently, I turned to a book to help provide an answer.  Should we do it? I asked. I then read an opened-at-random page to see which of two words would be first to appear - yes or no? The final word on the first page said: “No.”  

I am thinking of suggesting it to Mrs May as an alternative to a People’s Vote. 

For book club this month, we are all reading The Satyricon, by Petronius (translated by P.G. Walsh). All very grand. It is not my (or our) usual fare - but, then, that is why the book club exists: to introduce us to writing and writers we might not otherwise read.  

This can present some difficulties in that we are often exposed to writing we do not enjoy as much as that offered by our favourite authors. I can find myself reading something (usually a novel) for book club while staring longingly at another book I have waiting, invitingly, on the shelf. 

On the other hand, I have certainly been introduced to, and enjoyed the company of many writers I might not otherwise have chosen to read, from Isabel Allende to Haruki Murakami.

I have yet to decide about The Satyricon. It is reputed to be the first novel ever written. At the moment it seems to me to be something of a cross between Fanny Hill and I Claudius - but much more shocking in it’s depiction of sex, rape, greed and lewdness in an extremely sleazy, ancient Rome: the great and the good fiddling while their city burned. Which reminds me of something.