Malcolm spent thirty-six hours while a hacking,wracking, rancid cough developed into the full-blown streaming head-cold. This meant much of the Saturday press passed him by.
So, this Sunday morning, sniffling over coffee and marmalade, he ignored the trivial newsy stuff and concentrated on the real meat: the supplements.
And, as a further consequence, in short order he read:
- Douglas Kennedy, in The Times [£], on Mark Binelli’s The Last Days of Detroit;
One so dystopian it underlines Malcolm’s settled intention never to go near Motown: the other … well, try this from Viney himself:
The landscape of Fermanagh, it occurred to me, would be Ireland’s best refuge for hobbits, if we had them. The heights of the county are frowning and wild, it’s true, and even quite scary at the windy clefts of Cuilcagh’s summit, or under the Cliffs of Magho. Great limestone caves and swallow holes speak of unexplored tunnels to alien lands: Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, hemming the Shire on three sides, and closing it off from the sea.
In the rain shadow of all this, however, is the intimate, drumlin landscape of grottoes, gorges, woods and hundreds of hushed, reedy lakes.
Even the great expanse of Lough Erne, an ideal playground for hobbits when young, is full of little islands for modest, measured lives.
Malcolm has always conceived Hobbiton in rural Worcestershire, around Tolkien’s own home in Evesham, now transliterated to Waikato Valley of New Zealand’s Northern Island. Yet, on one of the few balmy summer days that bless the Lakelands, Viney’s conceit would figure.