Thursday, 29 November 2012

In bed with Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson
I spent last night in bed with Bill Bryson's At Home. My friend Kate Toullis loaned me this excellent compendious (483pp) book, and it is a real page-turner. Bryson never dwells too long on any one topic, but on every page he makes discoveries. The conceit is that it's all about houses, but radiating out from that theme are many far-reaching tentacles. He explains how one thing leads to another, altering the layout and use of a house, including how long it took us to get cosy and comfortable at home. That rang a real bell with me. Proper central heating is a comparatively recent phenomenon in Britain. There was no central heating upstairs in our house as a child, or in my boarding house at school aged 7-14, or in my student lodgings in the 1960's or in the house where I boarded in Cardiff, working as a trainee journalist on the Evening Echo. I stayed cold when I moved to London to flat-share. It was only when I married, in 1969, that I was able to install central heating in every room of our house with a big enough boiler to cope. Do read this book - it is endlessly fascinating.

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