Today I had to disappoint a publisher's assistant, who asked me to read a novel the company is about to publish. To put it politely, the book seems meant for those with a romanticised view of Paris, who seldom - if ever - travel. Probably the book will be released to reasonable success, but only to a limited audience, in my view. In good conscience, I couldn't recommend the book, but telling her that made me feel bad. It's my Southern upbringing and focus on good manners: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
Speaking of manners, for purchases made from my online shop, I always include a little gift. I've noticed that less than five percent of recipients even bother to acknowledge this little extra, much less thank me. Seems good manners are falling by the wayside in a world of increasingly short attention spans.
When clearing out books in my office, I came across a hefty volume on Middle East peace, given to me when I first started out as a reporter at the United Nations. The book is signed by most of the principal players in the conflict. Sadly, all but one are now dead, without seeing their dream realised. And it seems the peace process is dead as well. So in disgust, I threw the book in the recycle bin.
I felt upset, as today has proved to be one quiet disappointment after another. I started looking through my photo files, hoping to find something to lift my mood. And I came across these examples of exquisite craftsmanship at Reales Alcázares de Sevilla. Centuries ago, artists took the trouble to create extraordinarily beautiful works of art, often in obscure places that few people bothered to look (i.e. the ceiling in a corridor, above).
Hand-painted intricate tiles (top photo) were applied to a wood base that's today riddled with woodworm. But the room is still standing, despite the centuries that have passed and the ever-changing occupants of the palace. As a World Heritage site, it just needs a little maintenance and no doubt will last for more centuries yet.
So maybe the Middle East peace process isn't dead, but temporarily stalled. Maybe I'm wrong about that publisher's book and it will entertain many readers and bring both author and publisher success.
(And maybe, just maybe I will stop obsessing over things that I can't control. One can only hope)!
Little Treasures Made by Hand
Have you heard about my friend Pia Jane Bijkerk's latest book project Little Treasures Made by Hand? Learn how you can participate here. I own three of Pia's books; all are beautifully-photographed and packed full of information and delightful stories. If you're not familiar with Pia's lovely books or her fabulous blog, you're in for a treat!
As always, click photos to view detail.