Thursday, July 24, 2014

Are you a talented multitasker?

I consider myself to be fairly gifted in the arena of multi-tasking. I can prepare dinner and put it on the stove, sort a load of washing and get two children showered all the while listening keenly to my son describe the difference between the playing styles of soccer greats Messi and Neymar.

But I pale in comparison to Eleanor Roosevelt who raised multi-tasking to a new and sublime level. As I researched my upcoming novel The President’s Lunch I discovered the First Lady’s devotion to knitting. During meetings with heads of state, while sailing, even while listening to delegates speak at the United Nations, Mrs Roosevelt failed to drop a stitch. She was rarely without her needles and yarn, even in public. For more on Eleanor’s knitting obsession CLICK HERE.

At their home in Hyde Park, NY, Franklin holds Eleanor's knitting, and Eleanor holds Franklin's drink, for an amusing image from early in their relationship. Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum
Mrs Roosevelt’s skills impressed me. But more recently I took my hat off to a young man I spied on the mountain trail behind my home.

Rough and rocky, potholed and precarious, the fire trail traversing through Canberra Nature Park is where I go running at least three mornings a week. By the end of the run I’m totally exhausted and I credit my fatigue partly to the concentration involved in remaining upright. On three occasions I have, quite spectacularly, taken a tumble. Even walking on the track requires my complete attention.

This is why when I saw a twenty-something man walking his dog on the trail while reading a hardcover novel I was thoroughly awestruck. What’s more, I can’t be positively sure but I believe the weighty tome he was absorbed in was a first edition copy of Ayn Rand’s, The Fountainhead. I have heard Rand’s book criticised as ‘pedestrian’ before, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what the critic had in mind!

Although a talented multi-tasker, when I read a novel I require complete silence and no distractions. I cannot read in a car, on a plane, on a toilet and certainly not whilst walking on a perilous mountain trail.

What is the strangest place you’ve ever read a book?

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