When I’m in London during the summer, I don’t have the car. This is liberating to an extent, but does mean that I can’t listen to Tristram Shandy. I bought the unabridged 15-CD set at the best possible place Shandy Hall, Laurence Sterne’s home at Coxwold, in Yorkshire.
On visiting, I became uncomfortably aware that I’d never managed to get through any Sterne. Anton Lesser reads Tristram to perfection. By the time I’d driven back to Ramsgate the next day, I had heard 10 CDs, but what about the remainder? My ears are the wrong shape for an iPod; the little earphones fall out. I can’t expect the family to share Sterne in the car. Besides, is he suitable for children?
Eventually, they may take to him more quickly than me always going off at a tangent, with no obvious beginning, middle and end, Tristram should appeal to the internet generation.
It was a long journey home, because the A1 was jammed. I was amazed to see people turning round and going up a slip road the wrong way in order to escape the hold-up. A lorry driver at the top tried to block them all right, us but cars simply went round onto the verge. How very Italian we’ve become.
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