Friday, 20 April 2012

Shipboard reading

Pictured above and left (to the right of centre by the water's edge, the two-stage plain white building with red roofs): the furthest north medieval church in Norway, at Trondenes near Harstad, originally of wood then stone; said to be built near the place of the first Norwegian Christian baptisms in 999, in a nearby pool.

At the time of writing the Richard With is tied up alongside the quay at Harstad. The sun has broken through some desultory clouds, and it will soon be too hot to sit here by the big glass window of the ship on Deck 4 where the wifi is. I am still reading Andrew Wheatcroft - our MBE chairman's - The Enemy at the Gate, about the 17th century Ottoman siege of Vienna and its knock-on effects; Ray Monk's new biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein - whose tortured life, combining the espousal of ascetic spirituality (including a spell living in a Norwegian fjord) with an addiction to junk culture, continues to exercise a horrid fascination - and the new biography of Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim by John Guy. This voyage has been accompanied on the TV screens dotted about the ship, by the trial of Breivik the mass murderer last July, first in Oslo and then on an island near Oslo, of 77 people. He was revealed yesterday as having hoped to kill all 500 people on the island, and to cut off the head of the former Prime Minister of Norway who one assumes was either on the island, or had planned to pay a visit to the summer camp taking place at the time.

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