Off today for a three-day weekend after an eleven-day stretch with only Monday off. Excepting Monday, which was a "teacher workday", with the children out of school, making for an extraordinarily busy day at the library, (which everyone told me about on Tuesday), it was a remarkably quiet week, even at the public-access computers.
M. and I and Deputy Bill puzzled over it Thursday night. Thinking about it now, I have a feeling that it is because the economy is recovering, and that many of our weekday crowd of recent years have found jobs. I can't prove it, but I know that many new restaurants have opened here recently.
I am reading Dead in the Dog, by Bernard Knight. I had not heard of Knight, the author of the "Crowner John" series of medieval mysteries. I found it on a cart of new books. It is set in Malaysia in the 1950's, when the British were fighting Communist insurgents. Knight was a doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps there. Having just read George Orwell's Burmese Days, it appealed to me. The novel is a vivid evocation of that "forgotten war" with echoes of M.A.S.H.. I've blogged about the colonial plantations of Southeast Asia before.
But even before my reading of Burmese Days, my return to Southeast Asia was prompted by my discovery of a wonderful bibliography, Cruel Seas : World War 2 Merchant Marine-Related Nautical Fiction from the 1930s to Present, by Daniel C. Krummes, which led to my re-reading of Philip McCutchan's unique six-volume "Convoy" series. Mason Kemp, who captained ocean liners to Australia between the wars, serves as a convoy commodore in World War II. Frequently he casts his memory back to the days, perhaps gone forever, of cruising in peacetime through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, to India and Australia, along the sea-lanes of the Empire.
A wealth of archived videos and oral history recordings can be found at The Centre of South Asian Studies, (look in "Links""), including an interview of John Masters, author of the wonderful memoir, Bugles and a Tiger, and more.