Having scared you all witless that I might be moving into the realms of political commentary a few weeks ago... no Laura, I promise I won't :-) it was neverthless impossible to predict which book might serve me well in those interminable post-op hours while you wait for everything to settle down and figure out what's going to hurt where.
Concentration improving and I picked up One Of Us by Melissa Benn along with Chris Mullin's political diaries A View From the Foothills.
Now if you'd asked me beforehand for a subject that might capture my attention, politics would have been very low on the list, in fact I wouldn't even have considered it.
Politics doesn't really cut it for me when I'm hale and hearty, let alone crocked and I blame that inertia on a lifetime in the NHS and having to be the tail that wagged to keep in time with which ever party was in power.
Cue an election, cue another NHS reorganisation.
I had definitely been sitting helplessly sapped of morale, and with a burgeoning and uncustomary cynicism towards the powers that be as I watched the wheel turn full circle and finally arrive at re-invention before I made my life-changing decision last September. I will add I haven't regretted that decision for a single second; prophetically the Baby P furore broke just two weeks after I left and I could have cried, not only with sadness at the huge tragedy and its far-reaching implications, but also with a selfish sense of relief, safe in the knowledge that I was out.
Under those circumstances it is therefore to Melissa Benn's credit that I even allowed One Of Us in the house at all, let alone that I enjoyed it, but perhaps that's because politics is only the warp and weft of this book, a scaffolding on which to explore something much deeper and of far greater interest.
Recent political events woven into the lives of two families, the high-flying family of David Adams a leading QC and his wife and four children and the younger but up and coming Andy Givings, rising star of the Labour Party and who knows, perhaps destined for the top job one day.
The two families become good friends, those of the annual traditional gathering on Christmas Eve variety; so very special in each others lives and Melissa Benn cleverly views everything through the eyes of Anna Adams, the seemingly less favoured sibling.
Anna quickly becomes the astute one at stepping back and observing and narrating events through a slightly less passionate lens than the beautiful Laura, the ambitious Matt or the troubled Jack.
For Andy Givingss read Tony Blair and for Matt Adams read Alistair Campbell (well I did, blame the anaesthetic) and that will give you a flavour of the New Labour dynamics involved.
I'm not going to give away any plot details but the book is also a well-considered account of just how the distant past can stalk a family's present and affect their future, those legacies of grief, wrongs and injustice becoming impossible to shake off, and when the whole is blended into political life the results are fascinating.
Anna seems to achieve a trusted objectivity about her family that rang true for me and from that position her voice mediated the disparate personalities of her parents and her siblings with precision and delineated just how complex relationships within a family can be, especially one with a high public profile.
I'm never sure whether writers like their own family associations to be recognised or ignored.
I suspect it's not the 'done thing' and I doubt many want to trade on it, preferring to go it alone and Melissa Benn certainly achieves that, but having heard her father Tony Benn speak at Dartington last year I don't believe that I can possibly ignore it either.
In the midst of these politically turbulent few weeks and when I've spent a great deal of time with the Tinker, my own lovely Dad too, (who was born just two days after Tony Benn) I couldn't resist looking back to see what I thought about Melissa's,
"Tony Benn has so many personal checks and balances in place...cue more rapturous applause and what would have been a standing ovation
had we not been packed in like sardines and incapable of moving.
I listened in on the book signing afterwards as he asked everyone their name and what they did and thought yes, Tony Benn is indeed a National Treasure a kind, good and honourable man."
I can't presume to know what Tony Benn is like as a father, but I needed to know and affirm that about politicians right now, that there are good apples in that barrel.