Changing a tyre in the pouring rain is not a good way to start the day. Buying yourself a new book, swiftly followed by good coffee and cheescake is the only way to improve your mood. In fact I can’t think of a better way to improve your mood in any given situation than the book-coffee-cheesecake maneuver.

Spurred on by the recent completion of Swann’s Way, I swaggered through the book shop and reached, without fear, for Don Quixote. The first line to receive a pencil mark however, is from the introduction by Harold Bloom, rather than Cervantes himself.

After a lengthy explanation of the comparisons between Don Quixote and Hamlet:

I would rather be Falstaff or Sancho than a version of Hamlet or Don Quixote, because growing old and ill teaches you that being matters more than knowing.

A statement that’s difficult to dispute whilst the taste of cheescake remains on your tongue. And yet…and yet, surely the development of knowing allows a more tangible appreciation of being? Or does my formal recognition/classification of the book-coffee-cheesecake maneuver turn it’s magical healing qualities into little more than text, caffeine and mascarpone cheese?

More on Don Quixote here: Radio 4’s In Our Time.

More on cheescake here: Spoon the mix into the ring.

I spent the afternoon talking to a carpenter about religion and football and fell into what Dawkins calls the I’m an atheist but- trap. That aside, whether you have faith in perfect circles or imperfect footballs, or the belief that former is the abstraction of all the latter, or the latter is the inescapable reality of the idealistic former; what matters is the taste of the pie at half time. It’s all about knowing when to be.

Librarything’s Unsuggester service proposes The New Interpreter’s Bible to me as the alternative to Don Quixote.