It seems silly to waste the hours and hours I now spend driving halfway round Devon and bits of Cornwall with my new sprawling caseload, so in between some fiction, I've settled on biographies as the perfect stop-start listening and every so often a new guest accompanying me on my travels.
So this last week I eased Clarissa into my Ford Fiesta and off we went. One Fat Lady as in Clarissa Dickson Wright (of Two Fat Ladies fame) reading her autobiography Spilling the Beans.
Clarissa and I trolled along the lanes, she waited in the car while I hopped out and did my visits, and on and off I listened intently to an account of an early life clouded by great swathes of horror.
The youngest daughter of a top surgeon who once saved the life of a young Saddam Hussein, but a violent and sadistic man with a penchant for alcohol, who inflicted huge emotional and physical pain on those who tried to love him. The respected public figure who led a completely different life away from the spotlight.
The effects on Clarissa predictable, by adulthood her standard tipple four double gins and a dash of tonic, but less predictable her journey back from the alcoholic brink all recounted with unassuming honesty and, at the most difficult moments, the most miniscule faltering in her voice (or perhaps I'd driven over a pothole?) Clarissa must be a walking testimony to the durable qualities of the human liver, many of her friends not so fortunate and she has followed the Alcoholics Anonymous programme for years now.Regaining her love and respect for life one of the heartening outcomes of Spilling the Beans.
On the strength of all this I decided not to stop for a pub lunch with her and so we did the usual and parked up in the farm shop car park (the only place I can get a mobile signal and they have nice toilets, all community nurses know exactly where the next lot of nice toilets are) and Clarissa kept talking while I ate my lunch and checked my messages.
The listening-blogging experience very different from the reading-blogging one.
I couldn't keep screeching to a halt to write down a gem of a quote or a reminder to myself to mention something and in the end I decided this is not the best way to review audiobooks.
Much more of an overall impression will be the order of the day, but last week was a memorable one in the company of a fine and humble lady who has much to share and shares it willingly and with a self-deprecating voice that you can't help but warm to.
I was particularly perturbed to read a review of this one over the weekend suggesting Clarissa might be telling porkies.
Now perhaps I am a naive listener because this had never even occurred to me and still doesn't.Yes indeed, plenty of it beyond belief, but real life is exactly that and more and Clarissa has certainly survived some of the worst, but also some of the funniest it can throw at anyone.She does bring new meaning to "seeing the floor of the House of Commons", actually the bit behind the Speaker's Chair, but who with is a well-kept secret.
As the listening progressed road works and traffic lights became unusually welcome, the standard Launceston town centre gridlock an absolute pleasure and the several miles stuck behind a tractor and several tons of straw up around Bratton Clovelly a complete joy.
Clarissa's welcome to hitch a ride in my Ford Fiesta any day of the week.