Susie Rushton: Holiday reading is hard work

Share
Related Topics

My best holiday memories aren't of sunsets or dolphin sightings but of wallowing in the shallow end of a swimming pool, giant inflatable ring wrapped around my middle, my face shaded by a fat paperback. I can't brag about the quantity of my beach reading like some: I'm slow, easily distracted, and usually only notch up two novels over a fortnight's break even while my hungrier holiday companions tear through one Penguin Classic after another.

The holiday library is also limited by practical considerations. I've only got room for a couple of volumes in my bag, and have small patience with the e-reader (it's not safe for the inflatable ring position). So this time around I've been doing deep research before I commit to any author. Unhelpfully, I already know what the perfect holiday novel would look like.

The plot would be by Donna Tartt; psychological insight would be sketched by Jonathan Franzen; Jane Austen would engineer the social situations; Graham Greene would design a creepy, suggestive location and the dialogue would be scripted by David Mitchell. Sadly, that book doesn't seem to be available on Amazon.

On the other hand, David Nicholls's One Day – the literary equivalent of Coldplay - is pretty much what I hope my holiday novel won't be, but it might be, if I choose unwisely. I read it last year because a friend told me that it passed the unputdownable test, and that's true enough. But still, it's not the stuff perfect holiday books are made of.

I don't want every other person who passes by my table at a café to coo: "That's my favourite book too!". I don't want there to be a clever structural conceit that becomes deeply trying after the first hundred pages, I don't want to be in the company of a cardboard cut-out "earnest woman" character who hardly ever thinks about, let alone has, sex (a mistake often made by contemporary male novelists), and I'd rather any novel of mine didn't finish with a self-consciously "difficult" and unremittingly miserable ending.

Not that I'm a snob about trashy novels – which is what One Day is, despite the protests at its transformation into a glossy Hollywood production. I can't afford to be. If I don't find the perfect book by the end of the month, I'll be floating in the pool re-reading Riders.

A few more ideas for Putin the miracle man

When Vladimir Putin slipped into a wetsuit and mask to dive in Taman Bay, an area where archeologists are uncovering historic remains, "to everyone's utter surprise", as Russia Today put it, within moments the PM managed to find two ancient pieces of pottery in the sand. Amazing. Putin, who is the Russian answer to Steven Seagal in his downtime, could put his brains, bravery and sheer luck to better use next summer. Why not launch him out to space so he might discover living organisms on Mars? Send him to Norway to face down migrating polar bears? Or put him in a lab so he can chance upon a cure for cancer?

Size isn't everything, but it can save a lot of money

Much sole searching among women of large feet lately as Debenhams publish a survey that claims the proportion of customers taking a size eight or larger are on the increase. They also claim that 82 per cent of clodhopping women (as the owner of a pair of size eights I'm allowed to say that) are ashamed to admit their true size, although one might reasonably wonder who, exactly, is asking.

A podiatrist I heard interviewed on the radio qualified the "findings", explaining that obesity and greater heights were putting pressure on the average woman's feet, making them spread and, so, become larger. (That's some comfort, isn't it? Your feet are massive because – the rest of you is so fat and huge.)

Actually, we thunderfoots don't care much about the reasons why. We don't even think our feet are ugly. We just wish that shoe shops didn't make us feel like freaks, and that we could take part in what is clearly one of the most enjoyable things about fashion.

On Saturday, in search of a pair of high heels, I systematically searched half a dozen stores for a pair that I might like, and would also fit. When you've got big feet, shoe shopping isn't the carefree, indulgent, put-it-on-plastic experience as advertised by Carrie Bradshaw; it's humiliating and frustrating and you usually come home empty-handed.

Of the 10 styles I asked about, only one was stocked in a size eight. When this happens, I'm careful now to ask if the store actually make my size, or whether they've just sold out – but in all cases it was the latter.

Sizes eight and above are stocked in tiny numbers, and sell out instantly. So really, fellow giant-steppers, we're blessed: big feet make us more decisive, give us better balance, and, given how many shoes we've been prevented from buying over the years, save us thousands of pounds.

s.rushton@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones