There's been some good news from my brother: his ex has chucked in her job and left the country (she's freezing her butt off somewhere in the north of England - she can't do much damage there). Hopefully this whole saga will now blow over and he'll be able to get on with life.
I've almost finished How To Be Good which is a shame as it's been a jolly good read. I found Hornby's depiction of "Barmy Brian" quite thought-provoking, especially the bit where Brian (he's about fifty) tells Katie what it's like to cook for himself (badly!) following his mother's recent death. There are shades of (Barmy?) Bazza, who also lived with his mother until she died in 2008. As Hornby says, "love ... is as undemocratic as money, it accumulates around people who have plenty of it already: the sane, the healthy, the lovable. I am loved by my children, my parents, my brother, my spouse, I suppose, my friends; Brian has none of these people, and never will ..." There are a lot of Brians in this world, living, breathing human beings, existing outside of society, unloved by anybody. OK, some of them have made a choice to live like that but most haven't, and it's all very sad. For some reason I've always found those sorts of people interesting, probably because I only really exist on the fringes of society myself.
By the way I find Tom (Katie's ten-year-old son) to be extremely unlovable!
After work yesterday I dashed to the Green Man (a bar quite close to work) to watch the tail-end of Serena Williams' shock loss to her compatriot Sloane Stephens. I was wishing I hadn't bothered (there was no sound and you couldn't watch it without something going on - like a game of pool - between my eyes and the screen). The underdog Stephens looked to be playing a blinder, and I was impressed by her fighting spirit after she lost what I thought would be the crucial game at 3-3 in the third set. I've never been a huge Serena fan, and Stephens seemed amiable, so I was happy with the result. (I'm always amused by Serena's official weight. On the Aussie Open site she's listed as 68 kilos, but they don't say which parts of her anatomy are included. Her bum? Maybe that's just her bum.) Sharapova fell heavily to Li Na in her semi-final this afternoon, and Stephens' excellent Open came to an end in her semi with Azarenka just as their match was getting exciting.
I've been following the tennis much more than I thought I would. I'm sure the no-poker thing has played its part (I don't miss the poker but I do miss having an "escape" - the tennis provides that to some degree). I emailed a comment (about tie-breaks) to their radio team and was surprised to hear it read out on air by Richard Evans, my favourite commentator. I'd like to make another comment about the weight of rackets. All this talk about tennis has made me at least consider taking it up again. I basically quit the game when I came to Wellington. At various times tennis has done me an awful lot of good, but it's also caused me a lot of angst on occasions, I'm a bit apprehensive about getting back into it. They're in the middle of the current season, so it's likely I'll have to wait till September in any case. Whatever, I need proper serious exercise on a more regular basis (I've put on weight and certainly feel more lethargic); at the weekend I've got an arduous tramp planned - hopefully that will help.