I must stop making excuses but I have been all set to settle down and finish this month's War & Peace instalment every day for the last week. Every day I'd say 'Right I'm just going to read War and Peace' and something would happen.
Being duty on-call manager for work, through what turned out to be the busiest week all year for the things I was on-call for, is mostly what happened. Clearly August the season of discontent.
But no worries, one evening left and I can do this and I have read it, but then we watched the news live from London and I don't know about you but seeing this sort of thing knocks the stuffing out of me. Riots and unpredictable civic unrest, Croydon in flames, poor old Reeves Corner that landmark for over 150 years ablaze and for what reason??
I can quite fathom it, all this twenty-first century War and not much Peace right in our own backyard and I hope anyone reading here who lives in London or has friends and family who do, well I really hope you are all safe and that this thing stops very soon.
2012 only a year away and a bit of me wants to see Twitter closed down in the interests of national safety and the army on the streets, or a battalion of Royal Marines, and of course that's about containing my own anxieties by control, a huge step, but talking of armies here we are War and Peace and Tolstoy's brilliant dissection of the aftermath of a conflict.
So now it's 10.30pm and I must write something for tomorrow (now today) so can you believe it we are nearly there??
I can't think were the year has gone so I finally settled down to this month's instalment, which would take me to the final chapter with just the epilogues for September and what do I find?
I never could see the point of algebra and for that reason alone the scales never fell from my eyes, understanding just never arrived, why not just say the numbers in the first place and avoid all that messing about guessing.
Dark Puss...are you there?? This is your chance:-)
So Tolstoyian applied mathematics, and suddenly I can feel my heart rate rising, I'm back in Miss Collins Maths Group 4 (out of a possible 5, 1 being the best so you see my worry) and I am lost, totally lost and praying for the peace of the drawing room again..
Imagine a situation in which ten men, battalions or divisions take on and defeat fifteen men, battalions or divisions, killing or capturing everybody while sustaining only four losses themselves; they have lost four to the other side's fifteen.
Are you still in?
Now concentrate hard...
The ratio, four to fifteen, may be expressed as: 4x = 15y.
Yes, of course..
In other words: x:y = 15: 4
This equation may not give us the value of an unknown factor , but it does give the ratio between two unknowns. And by expressing a whole range of historical data (battles, campaigns, periods of war) in equations like these, we can obtain sets of figures that must contain laws, and these laws should be discoverable.
Moving swiftly on I was even less impressed with the thought of people having their nostrils split as punishment and wasted half an hour wondering quite what anatomical difficulties that threw up, before concentrating on the job in hand which was Tolstoy's dismemberment, limb by limb of the supposed greatness of Napoleon.
And the numbness of acute grief as news of the death of young Petya reaches Family Rostov, and as I had read of Petya's death to the distant tones of rioting coming from the TV in the other room. I realised perhaps 'twas ever thus, the impetuous invincibility of youth spoiling for a fight, that same bravado that took so many young men off to the trenches so willingly... and who knows perhaps a variation of that same restless disaffected spirit left unharnessed that fuels the torching of London...
...of remnants of the army, the scrag end of war, destitute and demoralised and exisiting in the direst of conditions but pulling together to make the best of a bad lot. The Russian and the French soldiers sharing what they have left, man's humanity to man self-evident.
...of Natasha and Maria who comfort each other through their grief.
...of Pierre who finally bonds with ...well himself first of all, finding an inner peace out of adversity that had always eluded him
...and secondly with Natasha as Pierre realises how much he loves her
...then there is the strange bonding of a community as Moscow, burned to the ground starts to rise from the ashes and rebuild iself as its people return. And the realisation that a community is about its people not just its fabric, one can be replaced and remade the other can't.
There has always been wisdom but now there is optimism in Tolstoy's novel at last. I had the reassuring sense that all would be well and all manner of things would be well, and suddenly that realisation that the messages and the themes and the outcomes are timeless to every age.
We all think we only have to be knocked a little bit off course and we've lost everything, but it's only the start of something new and good. Where there is life there is happiness.'
Onwards and upwards dear old London, but onwards and almost at the end Team Tolstoy, over to you, anyone still on board??