China: part 1: 'Work on Stuff that matters'.
I can't quite remember what I did to win this, but win it I did from Book Depository (where I buy a lot of my books) and I love it: a moleskin notepad. I particularly like the quotation from Tim O'Reilly on the front: 'Work on stuff that matters'
A small scrap of paper fell out when I opened it, and reading it I discovered that Bruce Chatwin ordered a hundred moleskins before he left on his travels to Australia - but they were not enough. Presumably he just wrote and wrote, and thinking about that made me remember what I love to do most - and that is travel and write... And it was as if some small flame burst into life inside me. I remembered travelling around Greenland and Patagonia writing down everything that happened in something similar - not quite a moleskin, but a bigger A4 version.
Then, an hour or two later, I remembered seeing a series of film reports by the NewsNight economic editor Paul Mason on China, which fascinated me - such different lives and scenery - and it was as if I was seeing all the scenes I'd imagined in Simon Winchester's book on Joseph Needham,
'Bomb Book and Compass' - and the flame grew higher. I think it was then that I realised that what I most want to do is to go to China and write, but at first I tried to ignore it.
I let it burn for a while, but all the time it grew hotter until I rang Hodmandod Senior and told him what I wanted to do, and he said I should do it. So I made my first step. It is just a small one but I feel I am on my way: I ordered a Michel Thomas course in Mandarin Chinese and a DK travel guide.
So thanks to the reminiscences of Bruce Chatwin, Paul Mason, Simon Winchester and Joseph Needham, I am going to go to China.
But it is the moleskin that started all this and especially the quote on the front: 'Work on stuff that matters'. So thank you very much Mark Thwaite (the man behind Book Depository): I am sure that you didn't intend this when you sent it, but I think you may have provided the kick I needed to stop moping around and actually do something.