Evenings are long in Tasmania. Time to get off Twitter and back to my books

Family Fortunes: Nights in front of the fire remind me of my parents, and Ireland

Distracted by Twitter: I’d do well to pay more attention to the bookshelf. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Distracted by Twitter: I’d do well to pay more attention to the bookshelf. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

In the evenings I trawl through Twitter, hoping for inspiration and links to interesting reads. But mostly it’s unending outrage about the 45th president of the United States and so much more stuff that’s of little relevance to my life, until it’s too late to do anything but call it a day. It’s surely time we had an amicable separation.

Novels I’ve bought or borrowed – there are the occasional exceptions that I couldn’t put down: Charles Bukowski’s Post Office, which I filched from a friend, and Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton – remain half-read on the bookshelf.

Our dog shudders and stretches on her rug in front of the fire. My wife will have taken herself off to bed to end her day watching something on Netflix. And our daughter has long since headed off to her room and is likely to be dreaming about Arsenal’s chances of qualifying for Europe.

My father used to sit in an old armchair he’d got at an auction. Its armrests dwarfed his tired frame. But it had been a bargain, so he wouldn’t fess up to his folly

In the evenings, towards the end of his days, and even after he’d lost his mind, my father used to sit in the lounge in an old brown leather armchair that he picked up at an auction. Its high armrests dwarfed his tired frame. But he’d got the chair at a bargain price, and he couldn’t or wouldn’t fess up to his folly. Night after night he’d work his way through the newspaper until it was time for bed.

My mother, seemingly always fleet of foot, would remain in the kitchen, perched on the edge of a chair, half-watching TV or flicking through the pages of a trashy magazine. She could never sit still. Even though her day’s work was done she’d always find something that needed her attention. More items to add to her shopping list. More turf on the fire. Another sweep of the lino. Another quick stir of the pot of porridge simmering on the stove.

The evenings here in Tasmania are long, and another winter is nigh. I’d do well to pay more attention to the bookshelf. I have a comfortable armchair. No more excuses.

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