21 November 2005

Birthday Presents: Final Roundup

From B.: The Doctor Who "First Series" boxed set, finally out today.

From my little brother and sister-in-law: Battery-operated sonic screwdriver, hurrah.

From B.'s parents: The Writer's Handbook 2006 and Doctor Who: The Shooting Scripts.

From B.'s granny and my aunt-uncle combo: Money and a book token, which I cannily exchanged at Borders for Anansi Boys and V for Vendetta.

From R., M.(1), E. and L.: 300 Beers To Try Before You Die.

From H., M.(2) and C.: A splendid Earth ball.

From my beloved parents: A smart new denim jacket, ideal for my requirements in all particulars save that of having been designed to fit a moderately buxom woman. It's too small for B., so this one's going to have to be exchanged at Christmas.

Last Monday I went to Neil Gaiman's book-signing at Waterstone's, in order for him to sign a copy of Anansi Boys for me and one as a birthday present for M.(1) (which was exchanged on Friday evening for the compendium of beers mentioned above.) Anansi Boys is wonderful and great fun, and ought to be getting its promised writeup on this blog at some point really soon now.

(Gaiman also signed my copy of Good Omens at last, meaning that the Terry Pratchett signature which it acquired some thirteen years ago now finally has company and a punchline. He's a perfectly charming man, and also one who now owns a copy of Of the City of the Saved..., although if he ever gets the time to read it I'll be astonished.)

300 Beers To Try Before You Die is a thing of beauty, laid out according to beer styles, with a description (and usually a photo) of each beer, a flag to tell you which nation it comes from, and space for your own tasting notes. There are even little tick-boxes next to the entries in the index, so that you can tell which ones you've already tried. You can tell it's designed for CAMRA members: it's difficult to imagine how it could be better laid out to please beer geeks. Needless to say, I love it.

By my reckoning I've tried 43 of the beers in question already, and I'm not dead yet. Of course those are mostly the British ones: there are a surprising number from the U.S. and Australia, as well as the more obvious German, Belgian and Czech offerings. Obviously more foreign travel is indicated, if I'm going to live up to my obligations.

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